I Was Here

On Julie's birthday...

...a suitable tribute song caught my attention, the song whose title I borrowed for this post.

Some background...

Somewhere along the line, my fairly eclectic taste in music turned to Beyoncé Knowles. I mean...Beyoncé has been around for quite some time..."long in the tooth" by current standards, reaching initial fame as a member of the girl group Destiny's Child. I had heard many Destiny's Child recordings, but never invested in any albums, tapes, CDs, whatever.

And, as I typed the above, I remembered "the song" that first caught my attention. It was an unlikely song considering my normal music fare. It kept playing on my pre-set "soft rock" radio station...and it definitely had a "hook", even though, in my opinion, "soft rock" it ain't. The song in question was "Single Ladies".

Then, along came a movie...

"Obsessed", starring Beyoncé and the lust of my sister-in-law Rachel's life...Idris Elba. (When I read of Rachel's passion in the pages of her blog, I had not a clue who Idris Elba was. Hey, she never introduced us!)


The combination caused me to buy the DVD...and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it highly. It's basically a remake of "Fatal Attraction", with Idris Elba playing the role of Michael Douglas and Beyoncé playing the wife. (Ali Larter plays the role of Glenn Close.) There are enough differences to make it, well, different. (Hint: Black women don't wait for the husband to take care of business!)

Beyoncé's "kick-ass" performance (another hint) in combination with "Single Ladies" prompted me to buy the CD that contains that single: "I Am...Sasha Fierce".

And that was it...

Me...Big Beyoncé Fan!

Went out and bought all of her CDs (some good, some not so good). Even bought a greatest hits CD of "Destiny's Child". For sure...Beyoncé has one helluva voice.


When I wandered through Target a month or so ago and saw the newest Beyoncé CD "Beyoncé 4", I snatched it up. Took that sucker home, popped it into the CD player...prepared to enjoy.



A discordant mess!!!

Made myself finish it, but told myself "That is one CD that I'll never play again."

A couple of weeks later, I stumbled over a review of the CD that indicated that the producers felt the same...were expressing concern that there wasn't one song that would catch the attention of the public, that would sell the CD.

Amen to that!

So, during the past month, my musical tastes have led me to listen to Simon & Garfunkel, Rascal Flatts, Paul McCartney & Wings, Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, and Creedance...over and over and over again.

Finally, today...

Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m. (actually a song by Simon & Garfunkel), I sat down to the computer to do some CAT Tracks.

I turned to iTunes for some accompaniment...but the usual suspects did not appeal. Hmmm...The Beatles? Nah. Instead I turned to Beyoncé...the "I am...Sasha Fierce" Beyoncé, not that latest trash.

And, I was not disappointed. Damn...the lady can really sing when she wants to!

When the CDs finished (Sasha was a double CD), I started to hit the replay button, but stopped.

Call it fate, call it a coincidence, call it a sign...call it dumb luck.


When I chose to give "Beyoncé 4" one more chance, I found the perfect tribute song for today...what would have been Julie's 29th birthday! (Hey! I still have a healthy respect for lightning bolts...and the TV said that today's weather would be "unsettled".)

The song that reached out and grabbed me was an appropriate mixture of love and caring, drive and determination, and yes...pride.

Throughout her life, Julie gave freely of herself to help others...often to her own detriment. It's just the way she was. Julie expected and wanted nothing in return.


Julie was human...especially in her professional life. Although there were occasions when an appreciative administrator would publicly acknowledge Julie's efforts, she was routinely snubbed...left out when others who did far less were praised. It didn't stop Julie from giving her all and, in fact, usually motivated her to do even more...

...but it hurt.

That's why after years of faithful but unappreciated (even resented) service...that included exile from her beloved Cairo High School, suspension, and firing on trumped up charges, Julie redirected her energies...literallly climbing out of her sick bed to serve on a National Education Association IDEA Task Force. (IDEA = Individuals with Disabilities in Educaton Act). Sparking reserves of energy she didn't know she had, Julie went on to serve on the Illinois Education Association's Board of Directors and in 2000 was elected a Trustee to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, the first (and still only) minority to be so honored in the organization's long history.

These accomplishments after so many years of working in unappreciated obscurity brought Julie the personal satisfaction she really never knew she wanted...needed.


...in accordance with the lyrics to the song below, Julie A. Newell has a permanent place in history. (Among the mementos that I ran across after Julie's passing...a letter from Joseph D. Tullbane, III, Director of the Center of International Education, expressing the "heartfelt thanks" of a group of Bulgarian pension planners for Julie's attendance at their session.)

So, yes, Julie. You left your mark...on the world!

But for myself, for Rachel, for all of her family and friends...and, yes, the many, many casual acquaintances whom Julie met at conferences, in airports, on BART vans, at chemotherapy sessions, or wherever paths crossed...

...Julie left an indelible mark on our hearts, made our lives better than they would have been.

Julie brought much happiness...and made a difference.

So, Julie...

Definitely no need for regrets on your part.

It is left for those of us whose hearts you have touched to gladly bear witness...

Julie A. Newell was here!

"I Was Here"
Lyrics by Diane Warren
Performed by Beyoncé

I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time
Know there was something that, and something that I left behind
When I leave this world, I'll leave no regrets
Leave something to remember, so they won't forget

I was here...
I lived, I loved
I was here...
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here...

I want to say I lived each day, until I died
I know that I had something in, somebody's life
The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave
That I made a difference, and this world will see

I was here...
I lived, I loved
I was here...
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know

I was here... I lived, I loved
I was here...
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here...

I just want them to know
That I gave my all, did my best
Brought someone to happiness
Left this world a little better just because...

I was here...

YouTube Video Lyrics

YouTube Official Recording Video Clip