I was visiting some kids at the oncology ward at a children’s hospital recently. The elevator was full so I took the stairs on the way out.

As I opened the exit door and started heading down I heard the most wonderful sound. It was a woman singing. Her hauntingly beautiful voice resonated warmly throughout the stark concrete stairwell and grew richer as it swirled up the stairs and reached me.

She was singing “Don’t Know Why” by Nora Jones. It gave me goose bumps.

As I got to the bottom I discovered the voice was coming from a middle-aged cleaning lady who was on her knees with a brush and a pail washing the stairs.

She looked up and blushed. “Oh sorry.”

“Oh my goodness,” I said. “You have the most beautiful voice. Do you sing professionally?”

“Oh no,” she chuckled. “Not me. I’m not a good singer. I wanted to go to school for music when I was a kid but my stepfather told me that my singing was terrible. So I stopped.”

“Well, I think you have an amazing voice.” I said, “Look. Goose bumps.”

She smiled shyly and went back to scrubbing.

I was about to tell her that she was crazy for believing her stepfather but then I remembered doing exactly the same thing myself.

When I was a kid, with Art College in mind, I applied to take art as an elective at high school. Sadly, my arrogant art teacher told me that I was not talented enough to be an artist. For some reason I believed him and I stopped drawing.

I did not draw for almost twenty years. Thank goodness I had a persistent muse who bugged me and finally inspired me to start drawing again when I was in my thirties. I have now illustrated over fifty books that I have written. I have also had numerous art shows and am proud to have created a PBS animated TV series based on my work.

I drew this picture and added the quote by Amy Sangster because I need to continually remind myself to NEVER AGAIN let someone dim my light simply because it’s shining in their eyes.

One thought on “

  1. Thank goodness your Muse persisted. But your writing is also beautiful. You have two amazing talents. I have no doubt that your father is surrounded by a glow of bright light looking down on you. Where were you from in SA. There was a Romain family in Springs where I grew up.


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