Sunday, April 12, 2015

Precious Moments

In 1974 The Three Degrees hit the top spot on the adult contemporary chart with the song “When Will I See You Again.”

The song, which poses a series of questions about the early stages of a relationship, was a big hit in England, too, and the Philadelphia soul group performed it at Prince Charles’ 30th birthday party in Buckingham Palace.

I always liked the opening of the song where the trio comes in behind the strings to sing the line “Precious moments…”

Lead singer Shelia Ferguson said she hated the tune when she first heard it and angrily declared she would never sing it, believing that “it was ridiculously insulting to be given such a simple song.” She would later admit she had called that one wrong.

And from now on, whenever I hear this song I’ll think of a girl named Janet.

I met Janet—or Jeannette as she liked to be called—at a friend’s party in the Bronx some 40 years ago. She was a lovely young girl who was so funny and so outgoing and we just hit it off.

“When Will I See You Again” was climbing the charts at the time and every so often Janet would sing out the single line “is this my beginning or is this the end?”

It would be nice if I could tell you that this evening was the beginning of a beautiful relationship, but that’s not how things worked out.

Will I Have to Wait Forever?

Janet and I spoke over the phone a few times after that evening and there was even some discussion of me being her prom date, but that fell through, we drifted out of each other’s lives, and I never saw her again.

I hadn’t thought about her in decades and then I learned that Janet died last weekend after a long illness. The hostess of that party in the Bronx posted the terrible news on her Facebook page and I still can’t believe it.

The funny teenaged girl that I knew so briefly went on to be the mother of four children, the owner of her own real estate business, and treasurer for the Board of Realtors in Westchester.

I barely knew the girl she was, never knew the woman she became and now she’s gone.

When I think back on the party it is with a strange kind of double vision, where the memory is both hazy and quite sharp at the same time. It was a very precious moment indeed.

It’s frightening that someone who was so full of life can be snuffed out like that. “When Will I See You Again” poses a series of questions, but I have just one: why? Why did this happen?

Of course there’s no answer to that question. Life is not fair and rarely makes sense.

If there are any lessons to be learned here I guess it would be the basic ones that so many of us never seem to get: be thankful for what you have and enjoy every moment of your life because tomorrow is promised to absolutely no one.

I keep telling myself to follow these simple rules, but then I turn around and find myself getting all twisted over some bit of nonsense that will be forgotten in no time.

Share those precious moments and don’t wait forever because right now is all you have and there are some people you may never see again.


Ron said...

Rob, I'm so sorry to hear about your high school friend Janet. Hearing that and your mention of this song, which I so clearly remember when I was a senior in high school, touched my heart because it brought me back to a very special time in my life, when this song first came out. Isn't it something how certain songs will do that to you?

I always loved this song, but had no idea that The Three Degrees were from Philadelphia!?

Beautiful tribute to Janet. And I'm sure she's looking down; smiling, knowing how much she touched your life.

You take care, buddy. And have a super week!

Rob K said...

Hey, buddy, how's it going?

It's amazing how music can define our lives and how certain songs can transport us to another time.

This memory of Janet singing that song is so clear in my mind it's incredible.

And yes, the Three Degrees are Philly girls!

Take care of yourself, Ron, and thanks for stopping by.

Bijoux said...

It's amazing how we associate certain songs with certain people, esp when they are long gone from our lives. And it is shocking and sad to hear of the passing of someone from our youth. Without Facebook, we often would never know. I'm not sure which is better.

Rob K said...

Hi, Bijoux!

You make some excellent points here, particularly about Facebook.

You get involved with people from your distant past in some way and, as you noted, it's hard to say if that's good or bad. But that genie ain't going back in the bottle, I'm afraid.

Take care!

Stephanie Faris said...

I read a post once about how the death of someone we once loved (or even just admired romantically) can really affect us. Even if they haven't been in our lives for years, it still hits us. I think that's just proof that when someone touches your heart, they leave a permanent imprint there.

Rob K said...

Thank you, Stephanie. You put it so beautifully!