She started out as a regular baby: exceedingly beautiful, talented and intelligent – you know the drill. As her grandmother, I was so smitten that one day I recorded her on video doing nothing but jumping up and down for forty minutes in a jumping jack. I don’t know why. Even the baby got bored.
Next came her dancing career. From a little tyke through high school she tapped, balleted, and Irish danced her way across dozens of stages. She was terrific. I was sure that dancing would become her career. But it was not to be. (At least, not so far.)
The girls were raised and home-schooled at their family’s farm outside Auburn, Washington. In spite of what should have been a somewhat cloistered life, both became experienced world travelers and sophisticated patrons of the arts. Their parents – my daughter and son-in-law – Judy and Gary Taylor saw to that!
During middle school and high school, Arden began learning cello and the bass viol. She was honored with a seat in the Tacoma Youth Symphony which she held until she graduated from high school. By then, I was pretty sure a wonderful career in music lay ahead of her. But what does a doting grandmother know? Zilch. (At least, not so far.)
By the time she was sixteen, she discovered her voice in writing and was so prolific that by the time she was sixteen years old, she had written a trilogy of three full-length novels. I was – you guessed it – positive that this budding author would make her career in the literary field writing the long-awaited Great American Novel. Wrong, again. (At least, not so far.)
Arden had always had a beautiful singing voice, but it wasn’t until high school and college that anybody found out about it. Even birds are jealous when they hear her lovely voice. This is a song she sang from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”. I started imagining how she’d be received at Carnegie Hall. But alas, that doesn’t seem to be her aim in life. (At least, not so far.)
During college and working her master’s degree, Arden majored in Japanese and linguistics. I’m hoping that she’ll stumble into a career as a Japanese translator. There may not be many hundreds of those positions available, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Whatever career this talented young woman decides on, I’m sure she’ll make her mark, and I’ll be egging her on from the wings.
So will her dog, Lenore. Lenore is a giant Great Dane who thinks she’s a chihuahua and whom everybody (except stubborn landlords) would like to adopt. Arden is moving into an apartment at the end of the month, and so far, due to “discriminatory” renting practices, Lenore has been exiled to stay on the family farm with Judy and Gary.
Arden did a lot a acting in her short young life, and she comes from a theater family, but she’s never had any interest on going “on the boards” full time. Her very first role as an actress was at six months old when she appeared as Baby Collette in Roosevelt High School’s production of “Les Miserables”. (She easily won the audition because her mama Judy Taylor was the show’s director, and her dad Gary Taylor designed the sets and staging.)
Thinking about her role in that show reminded me of one of the most thrilling scenes I’ve ever seen on TV. For a birthday gift for Arden, and for all of us, I’m going to embed it here. It was the extraordinary finale of the 10th Anniversary Concert version of the musical Les Miserables in 1995. Colm Wilkinson, the Irish tenor, played the role of Jean Valjean.
At the end of that breathtaking concert, just when we thought we had experienced the best show ever to be on television, came this awesome and unforgettable finale. Seventeen tenors who had played the role of Valjean in their respective countries marched in and, in their own language, each sang a few measures from “Do You Hear the People Sing”.
Even if you’ve heard it before, I hope you’ll sit back as a proud citizen of the world and be inspired by this passionate anthem.
So there you go, Arden – Dancer, Singer, Writer, Actor, Painter, Translator. So much talent and so many choices! Happy birthday to all of your personas!