New Year’s Eve Dance at Vermilionville
I don’t have to remind you that 2017 has been a year of tumult. If ever the world were in need of an act of kindness, this was the night and this is precisely what we got. A little miracle.
What’s happening on the stage? The band is rearranging its configuration. A moment later a caregiver is wheeling a man onstage and setting him up between Geno and his rub board player.
Wow. This is the same young man who has been sitting against the back wall of the dance hall in his wheelchair, two fingers covered with the metal thimbles that have been making his rub board sing since the dance began at 9:30 PM. Cerebral palsy hasn't dented one bit of his love of the percussive throb of zydeco music.
Geno’s manager noticed him, asked if he’d like to join the band on stage. A dream is about to come true.
Geno, leader of Geno Delafose and French Rockin'Boogie, one of the most popular bands in southwest Louisiana, welcomes him warmly and off they go with a lively zydeco song.
“Philip Meaux!” Geno shouts as they finish. We cheer.
What happens next is even better.
"Let's slow it down a bit," Geno says, pulls up a chair next to Philip so he’s at eye level with him. VIDEO
Watch Geno nod and make eye contact as they play and watch Philip glance at Geno.
This is as warm a connection as you're ever going to see on a stage. Look at the smile on Philip's face as they finish the song and watch Geno tell everyone, "Philip Meaux! Give him some love, everyone!"
A moment after Geno has helped him off the stage, he turns to us, his face beaming.
" 'This is a dream come true', Philip just said to me."
For anyone with a beating heart, this was a wave that lapped the shore of our own sea of dreams. The act of kindness was a mini sermon reminding us that small gestures can make a big impact on the lives of others. New Year's Eve was a good place to start.
Once he’s settled back in his chair at the back of the dance hall, he tells me music is in family, his father plays bass and his uncle plays guitar. Philip’s caregiver Rachel, who’s been amazed and happy at the turn of events, says Philip is self-sufficient, lives in a condo, and has daily caregiver visits. Men and women like Philip often seem invisible or isolated.
There’s a message here. I may have had to ask Philip to repeat his answers to my questions so I can understand them but he’s sharp, observant, and personable. He has dreams of success and acknowledgement and fulfillment as we all do. One of his came true tonight.
Photos and videos by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr.