A couple weeks ago I took the kids to see Bon Jovi in concert. At Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots.
I have a long history with Jon Bon Jovi. Whether he realizes it or not. Sure, he's my age, and yes, it's partly the New Jersey thing, but it's bigger than that.
I was a young RN, maybe 24, working on pediatrics. We got a kid in, a 13 year old with beautiful dark eyes and a horrific brain tumor. Melaina was an only child, and for weeks after her tumor was surgically removed both parents sat by her bed as she slowly returned to consciousness.
The walls in her hospital room were plastered with posters of some new rock band, Bon Jovi. I had never heard of them and, to be honest, from the posters I couldn't easily tell if the beautiful lead singer was a man or a woman, with his long curly hair and smooth baby face.
With all the wisdom of my years I laughed off Malaina's infatuation with this clearly fly-by-night band, whose music I was sure I didn't know, and whose members sported what, even at the time, could only be called really bad 80's perms.
Then one night I showed up for my shift and the unit was all abuzz. It seemed that only hours earlier, completely out of the blue, Jon Bon Jovi and his band mate Richie Sambora had walked onto the peds floor to visit Melaina.
They sat and talked to her and her parents, brought her gifts, and posed for her parents to snap photos. Apparently someone had informed them that their biggest fan was very ill and they'd decided to make her dreams come true.
They came alone and stayed long enough to enchant not only Melaina and her parents, but all the nurses on pediatrics. There were no publicists, no reporters along for the ride. This was long before the internet, but nothing ever appeared in the news. It was clear their visit was no publicity stunt.
I was impressed. However young or androgynous the guy appeared in his poster, apparently he was a genuinely caring person.
After that I started noticing their music. Everywhere. And I liked it. As the years rolled by I bought one album after another. My kids have been singing his lyrics since they knew how to speak.
They laughed at how excited I got seeing him in concert. But they stood there singing with me the whole time. The band was really on that night; Jon Bon Jovi didn't seem to want to leave the stage. Even First-Born Son had to admit the guy, "puts on a great show."
It's fun to imagine what the celebrities we admire might really be like, but we rarely get an actual glimpse of who they are. Jon Bon Jovi probably doesn't even remember that he visited a sick little girl in a New Jersey hospital almost 25 years ago.
But me? I'll never forget it.