At least as far back as the tour in 2010 Leonard has worn a Saints Bracelet. When on a regular shopping trip I saw heart-shaped Saints Bracelets I got the last 3 in the shop, one for me, one for Mandy and one for Leonard. I loved the fact they were heart-shaped as it instantly reminded me of Leonard and the unified hearts. When I was giving one to Leonard his one he at first thought I was showing it to him but on realising it was a gift for him he thanked me and immediately put it on as can be seen in the bottom photo here. It was only on checking through photos today that I realised I had some with Leonard wearing it which I could crop to show it better. The top photo was taken by Eva Martonyi of me giving Leonard the bracelet.
Many of my friends have asked me the story behind me giving Leonard the roses, and my reaction to his kindness after, when I was in floods of tears. It has taken me a while to process this in my own head and I only feel ready to share this with you all now. I hope I can explain this in a way that it makes sense and that I can convey just how much this all means to me.
Many of you will know that a very close friend of mine passed away last year and that it was the worst time of my life. I made a vow after she passed away that if I could, I was going to make 2012 a year to remember. When I made this vow it wasn’t even announced that Leonard would be going back on tour. I knew as soon as the tour was announced that my vow, regardless of whatever else happens this year, that Leonard’s concerts were going to make it one amazing year.
This tour came at a time I was in a position to attend multiple concerts. When I met Leonard in Ghent after previously meeting him in Las Vegas in December 2010 I was ecstatic! Leonard and his work means more to me than I could ever possibly put into words but I have to say for me to meet him here in Ireland, in my own country it was extra special, and of course I treasure every second I’ve spent in his company both here and abroad.
After meeting Leonard on the Wednesday I felt compelled to thank him with something special. I had given him gifts on the Wednesday but I wanted something which would mean something to him and hopefully convey how grateful I really am for his generosity towards me. I then had the idea to give him a single long stem red rose as I know he loves them. After a bit of thinking I decided to include my friend Mandy in my gift as Mandy was by my side every time I met Leonard before but would be gone home when I was giving Leonard the roses.
On the Friday before sound check while I was of course there, I didn’t approach Leonard as I wanted to not take the time he could spend talking to someone else, and for someone else to have the same treasured memories that I have. This was important to me. I instead approached Ed Saunders and asked him was it ok for me to give Leonard the roses on the Saturday. I asked permission as the last thing I’d ever want to do is come across as a nuisance. Ed told me of course I could and that I am never a nuisance. I know Leonard is so kind and would never refuse to speak with me but is important to me that those around him are comfortable with it too. I asked Ed would he mind taking photos for me as Mandy was gone home. I explained I wasn’t going to ask Leonard to pose or even take much time but that just a couple of photos would be appreciated. I also told Ed I’d wait until Leonard was finished speaking with anyone else there as I didn’t want to take any precious moments away from anyone else.
First thing Saturday morning I went to O’Moore Street in Dublin to buy the roses to be told that they don’t sell single red roses so I asked to see bunches of flowers with red roses and was shown one priced €10. I told the lady on the stall I’d pay the €10 for 2 roses from the bunch and when she replied she’d separate them and then give me the full bunch of flowers I told her I had no use for the rest that day and could she just give them to an old lady or someone who was going to a funeral. I hope that the rest of the flowers did go to someone who really needed them
On arriving at Kilmainham for the sound check I noticed a lot more people than there had been on the previous days. On meeting with some friends I was very surprised when given the large amount of people who were gathered that Leonard still choose to walk between the green room and sound check. While he was signing for other people I approached Ed and gave him my camera. I then waited for Leonard to speak with everyone else first. A couple of times he did turn to me but I told him I was ok to wait until he was finished with everyone else.
Then the moment when I felt I had died and gone to heaven, Leonard turned to me and said “Now, Gwen”. While I knew from Ghent Leonard does remember me I never realised he actually remembered my name. Recognition from Leonard is a feeling I can’t describe but suffice to say nothing else in my life has ever matched the moments I’ve spent in his company. I handed the roses to Leonard saying these are from me and Mandy who had to go home to Scotland but that we would see him in Montreal. Leonard replied to me “Thank you darling”. At this moment my friend who had passed away came to mind and how I had made the vow to make 2012 a year to remember. I was overcome with emotion and while I tried to stop the flow of tears I put my arm around Leonard and thanked him for everything and apologised for getting emotional. He told me I was ok and that he really liked the roses.
When Leonard went into the venue I just couldn’t stop crying. It was a bitter-sweet moment while I remembered my friend, and how thanks to Leonard my vow had become reality. After a cup of coffee from a kind friend I went to listen to the sound check and was taking photos of the stage over the fence. When checking one of them I spotted the roses on the stage. I didn’t dare hope to think they would remain there for the concert. On discovering they were there for the concert, I was in a daze. It made for a very special day and night for me. I can never repay Leonard for his kindness to me. Even before I’d met Leonard in Las Vegas he had changed my life forever but that is a story for another day.
I hope friends that you enjoy reading this and that I have gone someway to describing my reasons and emotions on that magical day, September 15th 2012. Thank you to everyone who was there for all the support and the amazing photos took by various friends. Some of these are posted in other posts here and I don’t want to post the same images over and over again so I attach one here of the roses on the stage I took during the concert.
I will never forget Leonard’s kindness to me when I gave him the roses and for him to have put them on the stage for the concert is something I will treasure forever.
I decided it was time to get me a camera worthy of taking photos of Leonard and Co so was much happier with the results for night 3.
I was further back for the concert on Wednesday but it meant I could witness a magical sunset to match the magic from the stage. Also having our President in attendance was special for me.
Not many good photos from the first concert due to a freezing cold Gwen and a constant stream of people walking by my seat near the aisle. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the concert though!
Ok friends I am home and am beginning to sort through the many photos. In the meantime here is a photo of giving Leonard roses at the sound check yesterday and then Leonard singing Hallelujah during the concert with my roses in the background. I will make a further post on this during the week explaining why I gave them to him.
Photo of Leonard and I taken by James Nolan
Photo of Leonard singing Hallelujah
© Gwen Langford