So yes, my first night back at Turtles was an extraordinary evening. The place was jammed for the 5:30 seating, and almost as busy for the 7:30 seating. Even amid the noise and confusion and servers bustling by in front of me with giant trays of food, I sang my songs and got the most enthusiastic applause any performer could ask for.
Buddy and I began performing there exactly 21 years ago. And we were there pretty steadily for the next 15 years. People always told me that we created a lot of happy memories for them during our time there, but it really came to light last night. Many people who were 'regulars' back then
showed up, and everyone shared their memories with me; celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, New Year's Eves, bringing visiting family members and friends to see us, bringing their kids, bringing their parents. And on and on. Turtles is located on Siesta Key, which is a very popular beach resort area, so lots of seasonal people and yearly vacationers would come to see us on their first night back in Florida, year after year. Wow.
Two stories that were told to me last night really stick in my mind: one is the story of a granddaughter who began coming to see us with her grandparents when she was about four years old. She was always enthralled with the live performance, and kind of regarded me as something of a star (well, she was only four). She would dance and talk about being a performer. She is now a senior in high school and is writing music, singing, and performing on piano. She is now planning a career in music. The grandparents were there last night and they insist it's all because she was inspired by us way back then.
Another story that really touched my heart was a woman who brought her parents to see us for their anniversary many years ago. I had forgotten that I used to keep a Polaroid camera on hand and some custom-made frame cards. I would take a Polaroid picture of the anniversary couple (or birthday person) and put it in the frame card as a little memento gift from us. The woman told me that I did that for her parents that night. It turned out to be their last anniversary before her mother died. To this day that photo card is still on the dresser in her father's bedroom.
What it all teaches me is that we never really know the impact we have on other people. Last night I was reminded of simple acts from long ago that continue to be a positive influence. Mother Teresa once said, "In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love."
I pray that I will always be aware of opportunities to do the next small thing, with great love.