lördagen den 27:e augusti 2011

The Day I Met Dolly -- a dream come true!

When I was a teenager and growing up in Pekin, Illinois, in the U.S.A., I had woke from a dream. It was such a nice dream!  It was bright and perhaps a little fuzzy but clear in a way, if you can imagine it that way.  It had kind of like a dreamy quality and at the same time, it seemed so real!  I was standing next to someone.  It was so nice to be standing next to this person, but I could not put a finger on who it was.  I woke up just as I had dreamed -- abruptly -- and I immediately asked upwards as if asking God (?) "Who was it? Who was this person in my dream?"  It was just that nice.


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Well, time went on and years went by.  I had went on, had different jobs, lived in different places around the world, went to college, met my husband and gotten busy with family.  I had somehow forgotten it, or at least it had gotten lost in the hustle and bustle of my daily life.


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Then the year came where I came across the fact that my life-long childhood idol Dolly Parton was coming to town again for a third time for her Better Day World Tour.  I didn't get notice of it right away and by the time that I did, I could only get quite a ways back from the stage, and I always want to be close up to her on stage.  I bought a ticket, though.  As it was drawing closer to the concert date, I was growingly unsatisfied with my first orginal ticket and wanted to be closer.  I purchased a ticket from another place.  This place promised 11th row to me.  But, I was unsure of this, and held onto my orginal awhile longer.  
The week before the concert, I had gotten my ticket.  It wasn't 11th row, but it was 3rd row!  I had never in my life gotten so close to anyone legend like that in my entire life!  And, here I was standing the parking lot, letting out a little squeal of excitement, I had a great ticket to see her .finally!  
Two days, exactly two days before the concert, I had received another wonderful surprise!  I had won a meet and greet with the one and only Dolly Parton!  
I happened to be checking the dolly parton music website that exact moment.  I first checked my meet and greet status and saw that it was ok and  it was submitted.  Then after checking some other Dolly blogs there, I decided to check again to see that I did not mess anything up and see it submitted again.  It did, but this time it read "Approved."  "Ok," I thought, "I guess they must have gotten the request and such."  I then decided to go from that site and just check my email.  (Other business too.  But, inside, I said to myself that I would definitely check tomorrow for that email, if there was any.)  
I logged in and looked down the list of messages and instantly saw a mail.  I almost thought it was a spam message.  It looked as such.  But, I could not dismiss it because in the title it read, "You have won one meet and greet pass with Dolly Parton."  
I was shocked and excited.  I was so full of emotion!  I had to open this mail for sure!  I printed it off instantly to show at the door, or who ever asked!  I was going to meet Dolly Parton!!


I was home alone then.  I let out a little scream and almost bummed my little finger up.  Almost thought I had to tell Dolly, "I'm sorry.  But I bummed up my finger really bad, when I found out I was meeting you!"


Now, what do you have to think she would have to say?  "Oh my!  I didn't mean to have you do that!"


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The day of the concert I remember like it was yesterday. It is still so clear in my head!  I woke up. The sun was shining and gleaming into the windows.  It was such a nice day! And, I knew Dolly Parton was in town!  
It was also on the day that the dedication of our new high school and cultural center was too!  Everyone was so happy and celebrating that day!  I showered and dressed.  Perhaps tried on two or three outfits before deciding on one.  I got ready as best I could.  "I was going to meet Dolly Parton!"  (Then the words hit me again!) "I was going to meet Dolly Parton!"  Never thought I would ever say that in the same sentence!  
I got my two little boys up and ready too.  I took them both out to see Karlsson on the Roof, as part of the shows in honor of the dedication of the new school.  But I was nervous. I was thinking of the meet and greet and the concert later in the evening.   I did not want to miss it.  The babysitter was coming, but I did not know when and I wanted to make sure he was there before I had to leave to meet Dolly.  (My husband was out of the country and in the U.S. working at the time.)
Well, all went well in the end and my babysitter came.  I headed out to get the meet and greet pass and eventually to the concert.
I came to the door, the main entrance, and showed them the email I had received.  They didn't really know about the meet and greet and they asked down to the Dolly Parton team directly about this.  
They told me to come back and somewhere just inside the door, the escort would come and pick thos of us up that had this meet and greet.  
So I waited there. Looked around a bit too. And when the time came, decided to get my ticket scanned and wait just inside the door there.  No one came. So, I asked this one woman, who happened to be working there that night.  She was very nice and told me to wait there near the information desk and someone would come.  Well I was over a bit and I had gotten missed the first time and she had noticed the small group go and I not being with that group.  She got a little worried.  She came around and saw that I was there.  She got me and asked directly at the desk. The security at the desk called down to Dolly's main security and all.  One guy worked it out and took me down personally.  
We ended up taking the stairs down.  And, I made it!  Right in front of the other meet and greet winners!  And I said a big hello to all of them!  
We ended up talking there for awhile.  Steve Summers came out beforehand and talked about how it was to travel around the Scandinavian countries and about Dolly's buses that she uses while over here and all.
Richard Dennison came strolling and whistling around us, looked behind both doors where the bus stood, before saying back at us "Dolly's back there!" and going on his merry way.
Jennifer O'Brien Enoch, too, walked passed.  Only the other way, back to the stage.  She was dressed already and ready to go.  I turned just then and looked at her.  I didn't know who exactly she was then.  It didn't quite dawn on me just then, plus I was a bit still in shock that I was even there. But, she is one I always like seeing on stage with Dolly too.  And, I just didn't expect seeing her there.
Then it took a few more minutes before Dolly actually arrived.  A few times right beforehand, it seemed as if I heard a little voice, but, no no one was there yet.  Then all of a suddenly, everyone crowded around in the small area.  I tried to get a look too. Where was Dolly?
Just then I caught sight of the big hair!  It seemed like it was powdery and it towered a bit over the smaller figure below!  Wow!  I blurted out, "Oh my God! This is so unreal!" and turned around.  It was overwhelming!  She was there!  She was there in front of me, of us, of me!!
It was here that I got to meet and greet Dolly before her show in Stockholm, Sweden. 
She seemed to shine like a star! It was bright and she was beautiful! She was flawless and gorgeous! And, yet so very professional! And kind and loving!!
When it came my turn to come up to her, I looked over at Steve Summers, and he just gave me a motion of "There you are! Go on up!" 
I must have stood there a bit longer.  I heard Dolly´s lovely voice call to me to come on over. It was the same lovely voice on T.V. and in the movies and all! It was such a warm and kind voice! I stumbled up as best I could.  All I could do was give her a hug.  I came up to her and held out my arms a bit.  She put her arm against me and gave me a comforting rub.  I felt the two little sequins pressing against the two fingers I had on her back.  I could not speak so much.  I looked out at the bright lights and the camera.  I smiled.  Then I remember I looked at her just then too.  Her face was so beautiful and flawless.  I still could not speak.  I saw her lean towards me for the photo before turning to me.  Before letting go, she warmly and kindly asked me, "What's your name?" and when I told her, I got the warmest and loveliest greeting, "Hi Stephanie!" I almost cried after that.


It was an overwhelming and unbelievable experience!
As I was leaving, she called to me, "Hope you enjoy the show!" And, I replied back, "Oh, I will!" I always do. And I did too!
 Then it was quick, quick on with the show. They started to push us out as to allow Dolly to get ready behind the stage.
They showed us all out to the concert scene then. I found my seat down front in the third row. Wow! Cool! Mighty close!


It wasn't long in waiting for her.  Just as I found my seat, the lights went down and the music began.  
When she came out, I waved up at her, just to let her know that I was there! She seemed to wave back too! She seemed to be looking down at along those rows more than above us, most of the time, really.
Another was also down front, I believe. So, through the show, she seemed to be working both sides of the stage. Me on one end and the guys in the front row on the other end. And, it WAS another great show!
Even better perhaps! Now, she knows my name! My face too! Her prescence just lit up the room, I remember, as well as the show! It was so friendly and inviting!
I had met Dolly Parton!! And, it was so very nice!


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Now, I just keep looking at the picture of us together. Her warmth and kindness and beauty is contagious. I keep trying to remember over and over again every detail. I wish that I can meet her again sometime. Perhaps then I can give her a gift of my own artwork and also just be able to talk to her more! And, even just to hear that voice again, talking to me.
That lovely voice of hers! And, the kindness that comes from it!
The best experience I ever had!


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Thinking about it later now, I started to recall that same dream I talked about in the beginning.  It was bright and hard to see.  It was a dreamlike state even, even though it was in real life.  I was standing next to someone.  I could barely see.  But I dared, just a little.  I saw the face and the beauty.  
I remember!  The dream and the memories of that wonderful dream from long ago are coming back more and more vivid as the days go by now.  And, now I know who that was!  
It was Dolly!  I had a dream about this very meet and greet with Dolly Parton!  Although I did not know it at the time.
And, why, I do not know.  God was leading me all the way, and I still cannot see the real reason why.  But, I am glad, though.  And, I thank God he did lead me and keep me all the way!  
The day I met Dolly Parton!! A dream come true -- literally!

The Concert

All through the first half of the concert, I still had the feeling of the two sequins pressing into my fingers on the back of her dress.  I just could not believe it.  I had been that close to Dolly Parton herself.  I was also still in a bit of a shock.


I had gotten to my seat just in time before the lights went down and the prelude began.  Behind the curtain, Dolly's voice rang out.


"I can see the light of the clear blue morning...I can see the light of a brand new day...." Slowly and surely, her voice was ever-present.



A hush fell over the crowd and everyone stared at the darkness and where they knew the stage and the curtains stood closed.






Photo taken by Viktor Wallström/Rockfoto
Suddenly, the curtains slowly opened to reveal a certain and familiar figure on stage.  Lights quickly rose up and ended out blasting the crowd and indulging everyone in light!  Playing the fiddle, Dolly bursts out! And before putting the fiddle down and breaking into "I'm walking on sunshine!"  She gave a warm, "Helllloooo, Stockholm!!"  I stood up just then and waved up at her when she came near.  I heard her say, "Why, hello there!"






Did she see me down there?  Kind of hard to tell.  She is so professional!  And amazing!


I was just overjoyed at seeing her there myself.  She seemed to look straight at me sometimes all during the concert.  And, when in the beginning, she talked about how there weren't a whole lot of people here in Sweden but there were a few who said thank you for coming last time, she was looking straight at me then.  I gave her a slight gesture of  "yes, Dolly, I was one of them who said a thank you."  I don't know if she saw.  But who knows.  May be.  I was close enough for her to see!


The connection she has with her audience!  And that night she seemed to have something special with me too!