Tonight Mark and I were treated to Stross' rendition of "Beth," my favorite KISS song. His impromptu performance came after he emerged from our accessible bathroom with this announcement: "Hey, Mom and Dad. I am really good at this song. I'm going to sing it to you."
Wow! That has never happened before.
Don't be fooled by the photo - that was one of his high school speech performances. You see, he has spoken a solo before, but never sung one. Many times in 19 years, Stross has talked big about singing a solo, but we had yet to witness him taking the stage independently to perform a song. Tonight the stage was our living room, and the accompaniment came courtesy of his iPod.
Stross nerves (even alone with us) didn't allow for anything more than scant eye contact. And his wheelchair, and therefore his body, was positioned to face the wall more than us. However, for a reason known only to Stross, we had the privilege of hearing him sing in unison with Peter Criss to a rock 'n' roll classic. And, yes. He was really good at that song.
Please don't misunderstand. We have heard Stross sing aloud many, many times before. In fact, some of my earliest Stross memories are of him humming and singing along to songs shortly before his first birthday. Indeed, Stross still sings his way through each day.
He has simply never asked to command a solo performance - until tonight.
I have always loved how Stross' life has a soundtrack that aligns with the highlights of his life at the time. For instance, when we directed youth musicals at church, he constantly sang through the songs from the show. When his middle school or high school choir was getting ready for a concert, we knew the songs that would be performed, because Stross sang or hummed his favorites while going about the tasks of his day. And the years that he was in the high school musicals? Let's just say that our entire family had every melody of every song memorized in advance of opening night. To this day, when we see a movie, Stross spends the next weeks - even months - singing the biggest hits from what we saw on the big screen.
Evidently his optimal singing time occurs in our accessible bathroom when it is time for his cares (i.e., intermittent catherization and ostomy care at least every four hours, every day). It doesn't matter if Stross is alone or being assisted by one of us or a respite nurse, the first act of settling into his routine involves popping in a carefully chosen CD or nesting his carefully loaded iPod. Then he lets his Stross-version of the lyrics fly.
Through the years we've been the meaning in his life and his inspiration; carried on with wayward sons; bopped to the best of the Beach Boys; Mama Mia'd with Meryl and ABBA; hey-heyed with the Monkees; let it be with the Beatles; walked down streets with Dreamstreet; dreamed a dream with Les Miz; awakened to Spring Awakening; changed for good with Wicked; glissandoed with GLEE; whispered in the dark with Skillet; and so much more.
Truly, to be Stross is to be music.
So I wonder why tonight it also meant to perform it.
Perhaps we'll be serenaded more in the coming weeks and months. I hope so. His confidence is as charming as his life is heart-warming.
I guess, in many ways, his life is our soundtrack - Mark's and mine.
And tonight he got us ready for bed with his KISS.
Thank you, Stross. You are right. You are really good at that song.