Public Speaking

The first time I spoke publicly was at my Mother’s funeral. She died suddenly at the age of 89, not that it was unexpected. She lived at home and had companions, was sharp as ever and continued to be mobile. She was sitting in her chair, took a deep breath and died. My three brothers and I were devastated. I visited her as often as possible, driving the seven hours to spend a few days with her. We played bridge. She was a master bridge player and played well. Years earlier I had written an essay about my mother and printed it out in dreadful anticipation that I would be speaking at the funeral. I was correct. My brothers appointed me to deliver a eulogy. My essay was quite frank and lengthy and I had not read it in several years. I was afraid to read it before the funeral because I was afraid I would become too emotional. Instead I gave it to my daughter to read as we drove across Texas. She read it silently and I asked, “Is it okay?” She assured me that it was fine. The next day was a blur. The church was full. The preacher offered to read it, commenting that I probably couldn’t speak without emotionally breaking down. I looked him in the eye and said, “I have to do this.”
When the time came I walked up to the podium above my Mother’s coffin and spoke. I admit it was a defining moment in my life.
When my first book was published, I was invited to speak at the 35th anniversary of the Bush Library in Houston. The second time was easy. The adrenaline rush of speaking to a crowd seduced me and I now realize what makes performers love their work. Since then I have spoken at library clubs, a Chamber of Commerce Banquet, businessmen’s luncheons, and have been invited back to speak at the Bush Library. I have been on Fox News twice, once in McAllen and once in Houston. While I don’t wish to do it often, it does make my heart go pitty pat.
Life is about dreams, learning and challenges. Never be afraid to try something new. Life has no remote, get up and change it and remember even a turtle has to stick out his head to go either forward or backward.