Tammy Labude: I Think I’ll BE


Facebook isn’t always politics and kitty cats. And it wasn’t for me today. It was the mournful media that informed me of a personal loss so heartfelt it is difficult to describe.

How do you describe having known an honest-t0-goodness living, breathing, celestial yet terrestrial…angel…and now she is gone? How do you describe someone who was never supposed to be here on this earth, yet was…how do you describe someone who dropped into your life at the exact moment of necessity, who brightened your days of sorrow and darkness, and touched not just you, but virtually everyone fortunate enough to be found in her presence?

With only two words: Tammy Labude

I met Tammy in 2002 when she was directing a production of Heidi in Garland, Texas. My eight-year-old daughter Abigail was up for the part. She got called back, did a good job and to our utter joy was cast as the lead. Seeing my daughter ecstatic with the joy of a dream come true was the first gift Tammy gave to me.

But soon this joy began to flow to me. I was living in a city away from home, and was profoundly homesick. While waiting for something or someone before rehearsals began, I was blessed to visit with Tammy for more than an hour, just the two of us. An instant friendship was born. We talked, we shared, we laughed, and I went home lighter than I had been for more than a year.

And her blessings to me and my family just multiplied. She always seemed to be there and available the exact moments and days I needed her. Always. Eventually, I moved back home, and so did she. We stayed in touch with occasional phone calls and messages. Every time we talked it was like we had just spoken yesterday.

And now I realize that my daughter and I were but two tiny woven threads on the loving, giving, living tapestry that made up Tammy’s life. Because the gifts she gave to us she gave to everyone who was lucky enough to cross her path. And I believe wholeheartedly that her paths, her every steps were God directed.

How else but Angel might she be called? She was born with frailties that would have taken most away. She bore human challenges most of us have never seen. She was never interested in the grand earthly things. People were her business. Small ones. Tall ones. Old ones. Young ones. All ones. She gave and she gave and she forgave and I will never know why I was so blessed as to have been among those who had the privilege to know her.

I noticed some time back someone on Facebook quoted to her “To be, or not to be?” and Tammy answered, “I think I’ll BE.” And boy, did she.

That I could BE a fraction of her goodness…

God speed, Tammy, and God willing, until we meet again.



Old Gal Rap

Wedding Singer

Another day to see and be, a day of opportunity, a day for me to make my plea, a day to prove this comes E Z to me.

Rappin’ and clappin’ , creating a song, keep the words coming, doesn’t take too long, waxin’ and wanin’ is where I belong.

How can I make it more complicated? That’s what I’m sittin’ here contemplatin’…am told I’m too old to really solicit, lines and words that are really explicit…not in a Hurt way or Dirt way at all, just no “yo’s” or “yolos” allowed to fall.

See, I’m middle-aged, just a white old lady, hardly in the league with the great Slim Shady, but that don’t mean that my words ain’t weighty.

Whoa now!

Okay, the English teacher in me, won’t allow me to be, up with the “ain’t” that gets dropped for free.

Contractions are actions that need to connect, in proper use and be correct, “ain’t” ain’t a word that you can dissect. What is an “ain” I ask anyway? Language like that should be put away.

So how do you know when a rap’s all done? When the words are laid out, and the sentiments won? When the piece has then reached it’s right conclusion?

Guess it’s a trait, I must learn to relate, before I can take, the slate, and partake in the make, of the right formulate, of a Slim Shady resolution.

Cuz I need to be in it, for at least four minutes, to be in it to win it, concoct it and spin it.

To speak of a cause, a story, a lesson, tell of a pause in confession, profession, to make some point within this session. My reason to be, my purpose and plea, causes me to believe, I must do this, you see.

So it is with sincere respect, I attempt to connect, with the art and the rhythm, that are found here within, my mind and my home, my heart and my soul.

So it’s YOLO, yo, don’t be hatin’ on me. I’m just an old lady tryin’ to set myself free, learnin’ what I can from the boyz on TV.


The Secret of Life (And I’m Going to Tell It)

To say I learned a lot during my first year of public school teaching (at the tender age of 53), would be a striking understatement. Lessons learned were critical, intense and full-bodied. Some days I felt like I had done everything just short of cartwheels out the door to get my students to listen to me… about what things are important and lasting, and those that are useless (and often dangerous) diversions.

I learned a lot of lessons. But the one that is by far the most important, the most far-reaching, the unquestionably most effective, truth beyond truth, is this: Never quit caring. EVER. Never quit caring about your kids, never quit caring about your teachers, never quit caring about your relationships, never quit caring about your subjects…NEVER QUIT CARING.  Ceasing to care, ceasing to, as I say to my kids “give a rat’s pair of whiskers” is the one and only real way to fail.

Some days my students and I fought tooth and nail. We loved and hated each other, often feeling stuck, like families, in a forced symbiosis. But what we found was life-altering. If we hung in there, both myself and my students, if we hung in there and kept caring…about what it was we wanted and needed…that skin in the game led to success every time. Maybe not a 4.0 or a Teacher of the Year (or even Of the Minute), but success was ours as long as we cared to keep searching for it.

Kids know when you care. And teachers know when you care. And friends and family know when you care. Never quit caring about who and what is important to you. And that is, most assuredly, the Secret of Life.