Most kids go through parts of their lives, usually the teen years, where they struggle to find who they are and what their ultimate paths will be. My son Tristan had a particularly difficult time, the details of which don't really matter, but know that it did take him about a decade to get his footing again. But, when he did, he's since soared!
Tristan was long-time friends with a very talented rodeo cowboy-singer named Ryan Bingham, who, at the time, was barely invited to play at honky-tonk dives. As their popularity grew, the band (Dead Horses) knew they needed to go on the road and make a name for themselves. Tristan drove a beat-up station wagon and then a van, all the guys crammed inside, going from town to town, asking to sing in the local clubs. It didn't take long before they were on David Letterman and Jay Leno and Ryan eventually signed a contract in Hollywood. Tristan stood by the side of the road and waved bye-bye to Ryan and the band as they made names for themselves. Last year, Ryan won an Academy Award for co-writing and singing "The Weary Kind" for the movie Crazy Heart (with Jeff Bridges).
Now in Nashville, Tristan found himself assisting Shana Feste, the writer-director of a movie that just came out Friday, Country Strong, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw. He worked his ass off on that movie! But, between you and I, it was delicious hearing the behind-the-scenes of working with Ms. Paltrow (as Tristan called her) and even spending an evening at "Tim and Faith's" ginormous spread outside of Nashville. I wouldn't betray his confidences, but know that Ms. Paltrow is one of the sweetest and kindest women one could ever want to know... and the McGraw-Hills are wonderful and generous with their gifts. One thing about Ms. Paltrow I can share is, apparently, her skin (at 38 years old) is porcelain-white and newborn bottom soft. Tris said she's never gone out in the sun -and her skin, wrinkle-less, demonstrates that fact.
After his work on Country Strong, Tristan hooked up with the new country band Stealing Angels and is their manager as they've been touring this last year. Stealing Angels consists of Caroline Cutbirth, Jennifer Wayne and Tayla Lynn... each of whom comes from legendary royalty. Jennifer is John Wayne's granddaughter; Tayla's grandmother is Loretta Lynn and Caroline hails from the Daniel Boone line. The girls are on break at the moment; they finished the music video for their next single and are readying themselves to go back on the road in a couple of months. Tristan will, once again, have a schedule with a hundred things to do each day. For now, he's working on different projects in Nashville. We got to see Stealing Angels perform a couple of months ago for the first time. They were great!!
Jennifer Wayne, Tayla Lynn, me, my baby Tristan and Caroline Cutbirth at the October 2010 concert at Viejas (in San Diego).
Looking this over, it sounds like a name-dropping piece, that Tristan has "made it" because he rubs up against big names in Hollywood and Nashville, but that isn't the purpose of this post at all. My pride wells up inside and spills over simply because my boy made it out of those dark days... alive and much, much more than well. He isn't rich. He isn't on the front of the tabloids. He still washes his own clothes. He answers his own calls. He tells his mama he loves her every single day.
I was telling someone about Tristan this weekend, saying how I wished I could tell all moms who're struggling with their sons that it will be okay. Of course, it isn't always okay, but most of the time, our sons do find their ways to adulthood. Mine, with the grace of God/dess, did.
So, imagine my immense pride as I walked into the theater on Friday morning, 10:30am... the first showing in San Diego of Country Strong, knowing my son had a hand in making that movie possible. The movie was unbelievably good. I really hope Ms. Paltrow gets herself some awards for the amazing work she did in her role. Her singing was great, but her character was heart-wrenching.
Tristan'd told me he was in the credits as assistant to the director, but I hadn't seen a picture of it yet. I was giddy excited looking forward to seeing my son's name on the "big screen." Sarah and her sister were getting popcorn and soda, so I went in to get us seats. Interestingly, the theater was already pretty full. We're early arrivers always, so I was surprised to see how many people were there.
As I walked in, I stood in the walkway part in the front of the banks of seats and (very) loudly said:
"I know this won't mean anything to you all, but my son worked on this movie and his name is in the credits at the end. He's never been in the credits before, so I'm really excited to see it. And, in case you couldn't tell, I'm very, very proud and just had to tell you that."
Someone yelled out, "What did he do?" and I told them... then, "What's his name?" and I nearly hollered, "Tristan Lora!" Hilariously, the crowd applauded.
So, we watch the movie, I loved it... and even while wiping tears from my eyes, I bored holes into the screen watching for Tristan's name in the credits. When it came up... I snapped a picture (blurry as it is) and then squealed with delight!
There... there... there on the screen, a huge movie screen, was the visual acknowledgement of my precious baby's long road to happiness. Success is ancillary; happiness is paramount.
I am so very proud of you son. I love you so very much tonight.
My baby boy and his proud mama.