Raise a glass to Our Readers and Followers, My Dad, and My Faith

Dear Speakeysie Readers,

I’m thoroughly surprised and overjoyed at the response Speakeysie has received since its inception on April 28 of this year, just 20 days ago.  

The intent of Speakeysie was to begin a blog To serve the theater community in North Georgia. In 20 short days I have written 16 articles (counting this one), given away tickets to the Holly Theater LIVE on air, seen 9 live entertainment events, attended Relay for Life of Hall County as Team Captain for West Hall Middle School’s TEAM MONICA, and worked to save Children of a Lesser God on Broadway. Our blog has gotten international attention, our Facebook reach and engagement is at staggeringly high levels, and we’ve been given some incredible opportunities. I don’t say all this to brag, but to thank you, our readers for making Speakeysie part of your lives, and to thank my God for planting this seed in my mind way back in high school (I’m sure God in your life is just as awesome as mine, whoever he or she is or isn’t). So cheers to you, my dad, and my faith.

Living in Chickasha, Oklahoma from 1982-1995 my sophomore-senior year of high school, my dad and I loved to watch television while mom worked in the kitchen. My four older sisters were out of the house and it was just my mom, my dad and me.

Dad grew up in Compton, California (it was a primarily immigrant neighborhood in the 1930s. Dad’s family was Italian and his mom’s was Norwegian. He live on a block with all of his Italian cousins). He attended college at Don Bosco Seminary to become a priest, but with much prayer and reflection, decided the priesthood wasn’t for him. He joined the Air Force because he loved the camaraderie and structure of the priesthood and felt the Air Force would offer him that atmosphere as well as give him an opportunity to become an English Teacher.  

Dad loved all things show business, Disneyland, His family, his wife, and his children. He was taken from this earth way too soon of Melanoma at 68 years old. He cared for others with unparalleled compassion and showed my four sisters and me how to live and die with dignity. I credit him for my ability to write. He was a published author (his works are a topic for another Key musing).  

I also thank him for encouraging my sisters and me in all our endeavors and teaching us to live fearlessly. Finally, I’m blessed to have had him as an instrument of my faith formation.

Dad’s Catholic identity was very evident. While I love my own Catholic Identity,  and can thump a Bible with the best of them, that’s not how I was raised. St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel, and sometimes use words.” I try my best to live my faith through my actions. To love everyone and be forgiving.

Having taught in Catholic school, I took Religious Educator classes to obtain my Catechesis Certificate from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in New Mexico. This is where my beliefs as an adult Catholic Christian have led me–I believe that God (a higher being, the spirit from within, whichever entity you draw life from) calls us to each phase of our life to serve in his name and learn from our mistakes and shortcomings.

I felt called by the Spirit to serve the theater community of North Georgia about 8 years ago. This vocation began with a yearning to be part of a place where I felt like I fit in. Coming from the informal West, this was a hard thing to do in the South. While I did live here for 3 years during my childhood, I had forgotten many of the norms of politeness that are essential to southern living. With my theater friends, I can put my hair down and be myself — loud and obnoxious at times; invading personal space with touches, hugs, and close talking; and screaming in excitement when I see a friend in the theater lobby, or a cast member friend after the show, even if I saw them earlier in the day.  

Theatre is life. Theatre is faith, hope, and love. Theatre is God–whichever one you choose to believe or not believe in. I’m not going to try to evangelize you, push my beliefs on you, or indoctrinate you in my faith, because as a Catholic, we respect and pray for all people. What I will do is tell you I’ll pray for you, then back that up with action. I’m also open to lively and amicable debate and discussion on our celebrated differences and why we love each other in spite of our differences.

I’ve been blessed in so many ways and the blessings keep flowing. I’m so glad the spirit whispered in my ear to start Speakeysie, and then provided me with a muse named Kaitlyn Gentry who helped me come up with the company’s name.

Coming full circle, thanks to everyone who has supported us in our efforts. We are small but mighty, and Speakeysie is here to serve and to stay!! We can’t wait to see what the future holds. Peace be with you!

Yours Always,

Jody Key — Managing Editor —speakesie@gmail.com

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