Tag Archives: Rindy Sumners

Dear Rindy


Dear Rindy,

There are some days when the pain is more than one can bear, so one hides from it as far as one can.  If one looks at it from any closer than a thousand miles away, it may destroy that person, so one keeps moving to prevent his brain and heart… my brain and heart… from overloading, and completely shut down.   Today, what would have been your 24th birthday, is such a day.  I miss you, Rindella.  I love you.  I always will.  God bless your soul, precious child.

Love,

James

Rindy’s CD Release Event


Although this may not be the most opportune time, I must mark this moment with a personal observation at the culmination of two years worth of work as it approaches.  This coming Saturday, August 20, 2011, at 7:00 PM, at the stage in Fairytale Town, the curtain will rise, if only metaphorically, on the release of a CD that was created with love, hard work, and many tears.  Rindy Sumners was a beautiful, talented young woman; a talented singer-songwriter so full of music that in a five year period, she composed more than 150 full and partial pieces of music.  On Saturday, 36 tracks of her music will be available for sale to the public in the self-titled CD, “Rindy.”

It is unfathomable that she has been gone for nearly two years following the car accident that claimed her life.  I admit, preparing for this day has helped to distract me from my grief in a small way.  My husband, David, and I have been essentially glued to the hip of her parents, Rick and Sandy Sumners, to make sure this event is everything they want it to be.  Their focus solely has been on what Rindy would have wanted.  Being who she was, she was very clear about that.

The music in the CD is glorious.  Her soaring voice, her intricate harmonies, her dynamics lyrics, and her moving melodies are compelling, even beyond my imagination.  I watched her grow up from a bubbly eighth grader with blue hair to a world-conscious young woman, commenting through her music on every facet of her life.  One thing that people who knew her can attest is that Rindy never lied.  She didn’t know how. Her music is a testament to that fact.  The truth she tells in her storylines is intense and direct.  I love that about her.

Life will never be the same without Rindy’s vibrant presence on this planet, but my one comfort is that I will now be able to slip her CD in my car stereo or computer and hear her voice, her laughter, and her spirit.  This event is a powerful moment for everyone.  For me, as her teacher for five years, her mentor-teacher for one year, her friend, and someone as whom she dressed up on switch day at school, this is an intimate, difficult, wonderful day that approaches.  Words allude me as I try to explain the dichotomy of the heights of joy I feel that her dream is coming true as I experience the deep sadness that still exists at her physical absence.

I love Rindy.  As it is for everyone who worked so hard on these events, every little bit of effort I’ve expended on her memorial service, RindyFest 2009!, and this CD project, has been offered with that truth cemented in my heart and spirit.  After months as production assistant, press officer, support person, and friend, it becomes necessary to be just James for only a moment, to have the human experience of working on a project that, once upon a time, seemed as though would be very different, indeed; but, that’s not what is and today, I must rise to the occasion, and what an thrilling occasion it is!  I hope we will see a huge number of people attend to celebrate the release of Rindy’s music into the world!  I know with all my heart that everyone who hears this music will be enthralled.  I know it!

Her Daughter’s Pink Trees


Some color PosterThere are a few moments in each person’s life that will change who they are.  RindyFest 2009! was one of those nights, I suspect, for many of us. 

Saturday night, October 10, 2009, was a convergence of many volunteer people and events… a synergy of art and action, electronic technology and spiritual electricity, deep longing and ebullient love.  People came together, all volunteers, to create a most magical night.  There were gospel and progressive metal musical groups, there were solo performers and a jazz ensemble.  There were photos and laughter and family and work all rolled into one evening.  There was even a recorded performance of the wonderful song, “Rindy,” that Rick, Rindy’s dad wrote and sang.  It was a delicious stew of focused purpose.  That purpose was to love Rindy Sumners and her family through arguably the most difficult time in their lives, Rindy’s death.

I remembered the biblical teaching in John 15:16-17, when Jesus said, “…whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give you.  This I command you, love one another.”   Although there were people of many traditions who participated in and attended the concert and were thinking of Rindy and her family during this time, the call went out into the Universe to love our lost lamb from hundreds of voices.  They asked, each in their own way, that this memorial concert be the best it could be.  Our prayers and wishes were answered in abundance.

To think that only a month and a half ago, Rindy was with us, laughing and singing her own songs for us.  Now, we were assembled to sing our songs, and hers, for her.  We raised our voices in awe of the life that this twenty-one-year-old daughter of God lived.  We wept at the power with which her life and faith touched others. 

The images on the screen behind every performer reflected the many moments Rindy was thoughtfully alone and joyfully with others.  Her words rang out the clarion call for unity and forgiveness. 

Rindy, Rick, and Sandy Sumners

Rindy, Rick, and Sandy Sumners

At the end of the performance, that lasted three-and-a-half hours, and seemed to go by in twenty minutes, there was a story told that I would like to now share with you that demonstrates the very essence of who Rindy is.

After Rindy died as a result of injuries sustained during an automobile accident in which she was a passenger, on August 26, 2009, we held a memorial service for her at her church, the Mars Hill Church.  To our utter amazement, over 500 people attended that beautiful service. 

As we were making decisions about what to include in the memorial, we knew, of course, that Rindy’s music had to be a part of it.  One of the songs that Sandy, Rindy’s mom, decided to include was a piece entitled, “Pink Trees.”  It’s a gorgeous song with hopeful, lyrical imagery and melody.  In this piece, Rindy stood in genuine wonder of her own life.  Sandy felt compelled to decorate the hall with pink trees and flowers.  Sandy said over and over again that she didn’t know why it was so important to her, but she knew it was the right thing to do.

The truth is, the pink tree theme had become almost an obsession with Sandy.  She was grieving and we all decided to simply support her in this process to accomplish every goal she had for this day to honor Rindy, so pink trees were flourishing all over the building.  It was spectacular.

Rindy's gravesite, with the young tree in the center of the photo

Rindy's gravesite, with the young tree in the center of the photo

When it came time to select a plot for Rindy’s ashes, Rick and Sandy finally decided on a cemetery, Sunrise Lawn’s Chapel of the Chimes.  By the time that the arrangements were completed, Rindy had a blossoming cherry tree at her gravesite that would bloom in the spring with pink flowers.  This was yet another homage to the theme of pink trees that Sandy gently insisted upon.

When Netty Carey, a fellow student of Rindy’s from Natomas Charter School Performing and Fine Arts Academy, where I taught them both vocal music, came to me suggesting we put on a concert to honor Rindy’s memory, I thought it was a great idea.  Netty and I knew that Sandy and Rick had to be included in the planning so that it met their needs, as well.

A Forest of Pink Trees

A Forest of Pink Trees

From the beginning of the planning, Sandy returned to the pink tree theme that had been so incredibly vital to the memorial itself.   The lobby would be decorated in pink and the stage would have two trees with gorgeous pink leaves all over it. 

On Saturday, October 3, 2009, we were only four weeks beyond Rindy’s passing and the planning for this impromptu concert on October 10 was nearing completion.   At about 6:00 PM, I got a call from Sandy who was in tears. 

“James, do you want to go to dinner?”

“Sure, Sandy.  What’s wrong?”

“I have something important you need to see right now.”

“O.K.  I’ll be ready in ten minutes.”

With that, I hung up the phone, quickly got showered and dressed and Sandy was by to pick me up since my husband, David, was out at the time.

As we were driving, Sandy reached into her purse and pulled out a black book.  Before she opened the book she told me this story.

“This morning, I got up and all of a sudden, I felt this strong need to find Rindy’s black diary.  Now, you know, James, I have never read Rindy’s diaries before, and I haven’t even read them since she died. 

“As soon as Rick had gone this evening, I started immediately looking for this black diary.  She has diaries stored all over the house, so I really wasn’t sure where to start looking.  But, you know how Rindy and I are, so connected.

“I went up into the spare room, not her room, and opened a drawer and started rummaging around in it.  No diary.  The next drawer, only the second place I looked, I found the exact diary I was looking for. Isn’t that weird?”

At this point, I was simply listening.  The story was compelling, at least; overwhelming, at best.  The anticipation about what was in this diary was electric.

“I opened the diary and started reading,” she continued.  “Now read this.”

She showed me this page of the diary in Rindy’s own handwriting.  The previous pages were written on August 21, 2008, nearly a year to the day before she died.  The next entry was October 16, 2008, so this entry was inscribed sometime between those dates.

Rindy's Journal Entry in 2008

Rindy's Journal Entry in 2008

Sandy exclaimed, “That’s why I knew we had to use pink trees!  That’s what Rindy wanted.”

We were both in tears, realizing that her connection with her daughter had, indeed, not ended.  I reminded her of a conversation we had immediately after Rindy died.

Sandy was weeping as she said, “I’m not a mommy anymore.”

I told her that she was indeed still a mommy.  I said, “Sandy, now more than ever, you are given the responsibility to carry on your daughter’s legacy and to hear her voice when none of the rest of us can.”  Between Rindy and Sandy, the veil had always been so very thin.

She remembered that conversation, too.  She knew that she was doing exactly the right thing.

She said she wanted Rindy’s dreams to be fulfilled.

As the Consulting Producer, with this request, I went to Netty and Cathi Romero-Molay, the Technical Director and On-Site Producer for the show, to ask how to create the images we so deeply needed to see that day.  We figured out the process and finally, we were able to manifest Rindy’s dream.

This video is the result.

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The pink leaves that were falling created such a powerful moment for everyone in the theatre that there was a gasp.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. 

With that, the event was over and everyone felt as though they had been present at an important moment in Rindy’s and our lives. 

Rindy was never satisfied with,”some.”  She lived dynamically and fruitfully.  She sang from the deepest recesses of her heart.  She smiled with the inspiration of the sun.  She loved with the radiance of her faith in God.   Hopefully, this concert reflected those qualities that Rindy carried in such abundance.  At least, that was our intent.

We love you, Rindy, and pray that you have heard our songs of honor and joy for your rich and vital life!

The last photo of Rindy Sumners taken on the day of her accident.

The last photo of Rindy Sumners taken on the day of her accident.

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For great websites presented directly to you, go to:  http://alphainventions.com/

RindyFest 2009! – Today!


RindyFest 2009

RindyFest 2009

Today is the free concert honoring Sacramento musician and friend, Rindy Sumners.  Rindy died on August 26, 2009 as a result of injuries she sustained in an automobile accident on Interstate I-80.

This free concert, seated on a first come, first serve basis, promises to be filled with an eclectic array of performers and an abundance of love for our talented and precious Rindy.

RindyFest 2009!

October 10, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Benvenuti Performing Arts Center

Natomas Charter School

4600 Blackrock Road

Sacramento, CA 95835

For more information, contact: Netty at (916) 595-9342, or James at (916) 201-1168

Performers include:

Man, Oh Man!!                                 

Adrian Bourgeios                               

Darnisha Taylor and the Mars Hill Church and Technical Team

Edward Nelson  

American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble   

CoverBand  

Too Much Fiction

Memento Mori  

The venue, an amazing new facility on the campus of Natomas Charter School, is being donated free of charge for this event, for which we are extremely grateful!  The Benvenuti seats 360 patrons and there will be an additional overflow space for those who also wish to see the event! 

We are fortunate to have this particular ensemble of professional musicians, from a variety of musical styles, who are willing donate their time and creativity to this important venture and everyone involved is so deeply grateful.  The professional companies and individuals who are donating their expertise, resources and manhours for this free concert are growing in number by the day.

Please feel free to print out this poster, graciously created and donated by Kathryn Young, as a remembrance of the day. 

There will be a table manned by Rindy’s close friends who will accept individual monetary gifts for the family toward the completion of the CD on which she was so ardently working before her death.  Although they are not affiliated with this concert, we thoroughly support their efforts.   We’ve been made aware that these gifts are not tax-deductible donations to any tax-exempt cause or organization.  They are simply individuals’ generous offer of assistance toward the realization of Rindy’s greatest dream.

We all look forward to seeing you at the concert.  Updates will again be forthcoming.

Some color Poster

Almost Done, and Then…


P1050839Intimate moments come along that are forced upon us, like memorials, burials,and endings of all sorts, in which we have absolutely no desire in participating because of their tragic significance.   Of course, we have no choice.  They are necessary parts of our lives that we either face or ignore.  Ignoring them, of course, leads to its own festering consequences.  Facing them can feel so much worse, though.

This weekend is just that sort of weekend.  The closer it gets, the sadder I become.  It’s a different sadness, though, than when Rindy died.  It’s an approaching finality that I can never change, no matter how hard I pray, how loudly I yell, or how many tears I shed.

I will, as always, use the strength within me to get through it with as much grace and compassion as I possibly can; however, I doubt that many will know the true depth of the grief I am experiencing in that moment.  It is the grief of a teacher, friend, and near-family member. 

Rindy on the day she died.

Rindy on the day she died.

I miss Rindy so much.  I don’t like that life moves forward without her voice, smile,  intelligence, and drive.  The beautiful place Rindy has carved into the realm of Heaven is only there because there now is a terrible void here on Earth.

We’re done with the memorial and the paperwork.  We’ll be done with the concert and burial by Sunday… and, then, we will be forced to continue on our path here without her, with little else to do for Rindy but grieve.  That’s the worst part.

RindyFest 2009! Update


RindyFest 2009 jpgWe are proud to present the details for the upcoming free concert honoring Sacramento musician and friend, Rindy Sumners.  Rindy died on August 26, 2009 as a result of injuries she sustained in an automobile accident on Interstate I-80.

This concert promises to be filled with an eclectic array of performers and an abundance of love for our talented and precious Rindy.

RindyFest 2009!

October 10, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Natomas Charter School North Field

4600 Blackrock Road

Sacramento, CA 95835

For more information, contact: Netty at (916) 595-9342, or James at (916) 201-1168

Performers include:

Man, Oh Man!!                                 

Adrian Bourgeios                               

American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble   

Edward Nelson  

CoverBand  

Too Much Fiction

Memento Mori  

We are fortunate to have this particular ensemble of professional musicians who are willing donate their time and creativity to this important venture and everyone involved is so deeply grateful.  The professional companies and individual who are donating their expertise, resources and manhours for this free concert are growing in number by the day.

There will be a table manned by Rindy’s close friends who will accept individual monetary gifts for the family toward the completion of the CD on which she was so ardently working before her death.  Although they are not affiliated with this concert, we thoroughly support their efforts.   We’ve been made aware that these gifts are not tax-deductible donations to any tax-exempt cause or organization.  They are simply individuals’ generous offer of assistance toward the realization of Rindy’s greatest dream.

We all look forward to seeing you at the concert.  Updates will be forthcoming.

RindyFest 2009!


RindyFest 2009 jpgIt’s official!  RindyFest 2009! is up and running.   Through the generosity of people like Charlie Leo, Executive Director of Natomas Charter School, Ron Dumonchelle of MonkeyGlue Productions, and many others, we are certain that Rindy Sumners, our precious songbird who died so tragically on August 26, 2009 in a horrible car accident, will still find her voice through the production of her CD, on which she was so ardently working.

RindyFest 2009!

Where:  Natomas Charter School North Field, 4600 Blackrock Road, Sacramento, CA 95835

When:  October 10, 2009  5:00 PM

Check in periodically for updates as we progress in our confirmed list of performers! 

James’ Facebook Page

James’ MySpace Page

Always Producing


RindyFest 2009 jpg

There appears to be no possible way for me to escape producing something musical.   Since Rindy’s death at the end of last month, I have been contacted by another of my former students who wishes to produce a concert on Rindy’s behalf.  The decision has been made to call it, “RindyFest 2009!”  It will help defray to costs of producing Rindy’s CD. 

It probably shouldn’t surprise me that they contacted me to help.  I’m old.  People like old people around when there’s work to be done. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to participate, but it does make me smile that the good Lord, in his infinite wisdom, is insisting I continue to do what I’ve been doing for so very many years.   This is a good thing.

So, I’m off again to pursue more information, assistance, and guidance for this project.  It’s going to be a dilly, I can assure you.

Maybe you can help, too?

Rindy’s Connectivity Explosion


BlueThere was once a shampoo commercial that said, “…she tells two people, and they tell two people and so on, and so on…”  By the end of the commercial, the screen was filled with seemingly hundreds of tiny faces, each connected to one another from that first person with clean hair. 

This last week has been just that kind of week.  Our best friends’ daughter, and my former student dating back to 2001, Rindy Sumners, died as a result of injuries received in an horrific traffic accident on Wednesday, August 26, 2009.  This death has left me numb, incredibly busy helping the family, and struggling to find peace in the midst of the undercurrent of my chaotic emotions. 

Rindy was an amazing young woman, whose intense vitality was matched only by her inability to know just how much she was admired, loved and respected.  At twenty-one years old, Rindy had continued working toward a successful songwriting and singing career that had begun as a small child, banging out notes on her little electric organ her father bought her and dancing around the house singing all the time. 

KeyboardHer freckled nose and startlingly blue eyes gave the impression, even in adulthood, of a young girl; however, this was a motivated, dynamic woman who knew her goals, grew her faith, and struggled with her most intimate relationships.  Rindy’s foundation was her parents.  Rick and Sandy each offered their unique gifts to their daughter in significantly different ways. 

Rick, an ambitious man, whose passion for music imbued Rindy with that same historical desire for performance and creativity.  Rindy was the third generation professional musician in her father’s family.  Bob Sumners was a founding member of the chart-topping Axidentals in the 1950’s and 1960’s.   Rick, known professionally as Rick Dean, has performed as part of a rock band and as a solo artist since the 1970’s.  Rick’s brother, Randy, was a professional musician and composer in his own right before his death in the 1990’s.  Rindy came by her talent honestly and she truly made the most of it.  Her prolific composition, as well as performance has been a compelling musical force in every creative community in which she engaged.

RSR 4Sandy, on the other hand, was Rindy’s touchstone at every point.   The relationship between these two was beyond understanding.  They spoke without words.  They relished their shared spiritual gifts and love of friends and family.  Sandy made sure Rindy had everything she needed on a day-to-day basis while Rick provided the overarching motivation to focus on her goals and get the job done.  It was a magical symphony of love, discipline, laughter, and abundance.

When Rindy died, we completed the obligatory tasks required of every family when someone they love passes into the next leg of their journey.  One of those tasks was creating an obituary.  As one can imagine,  Rick and Sandy were simply too distraught to write this obituary.  That job fell to me and I was honored to write the sad message to our greater Sacramento community.

It was published in the Sacramento Bee, reprinted on Facebook and MySpace, and shared on the telephone from one friend to another.  Her family always knew that Rindy had an immense impact on those around her, but they were to find out just how far reaching her touch had been.

From the day Rindy died, we had only four days to prepare a memorial service for our lost songbird.  In those four days, programs were printed, the venue was selected, the pastors were conferred, and the video presentation was completed.  It was a rigorous series of responsibilities that many of us shared to get to Sunday. 

When we were discussing the number of chairs that we should set up and the number of programs to print, we figured between 250 and 300 would be more than adequate to accommodate everyone who wished to attend.  It wasn’t too long before Facebook entries and MySpace comments gave us a good indication that Rindy’s memorial was going to be more than we expected.  Finally we determined that the number of chairs to be set was 350.  That number would last only until Sunday morning when we added another fifty chairs. 

RindyAs the memorial began at 2:00 PM, Sunday, August 30, 2009, the same day that Rindy was supposed to give a concert, Pastor Scott Hagan gave his opening remarks to an assemblage of over 500 people.  The number, for us, was staggering.  Family had come from all over the country.  Fellow students from as early as first grade were present.  Friends of friends who had heard Rindy perform or knew of her by her reputation chose to be involved in bidding this angel good-bye.

Four days was all it took for the greater Sacramento and Woodland communities to come together to love Rindy all the way to heaven.  It was a profoundly powerful day.

She touched two people, and then two more, and then two more after that; then, they touched two people, and so on, and so on, and so on. 

After the incredible memorial service, and the small family reception afterward, we sat on the Sumners’ back patio, and we wondered what would have happened had we waited one week more before we had the memorial service.  It was beyond our imagination to think how many people would have been in attendance.  Rindy had moved people with her voice, changed their moods with her smile, and elevated their lives with her love and faith.  She was just that powerful; and she was only twenty-one years old.

The post script to this story is that because Rindy was such a prolific songwriter, although never having finished a CD of her music, she had a wealth of material from which to cull her audio production.  Upon her death, there was a concern that the CD would never get finished.  We thought that perhaps if people were willing to provide a gift toward that end, the CD could finally be completed posthumously.  Gifts we did get, one after another.

The final shock was when one of Rindy’s friends wrote to me to say that she had been in discussion with other Sacramento musicians who wanted to put on a free concert to honor Rindy and if the concert-goers wanted to give a gift to the Sumners family to help defray the cost of the CD, all the better.  This would be a RindyFest, so to speak.

James and Rindy 2How is it that a perky, loving, smart little girl who had grown into a dynamic, creative woman could have such a stellar impact in such a short time?   I don’t know.  I just know that I’m very lucky to have been a part of Rindy’s life and that I will miss her very much.  Her music will certainly live on and the love that reached across the country will continue to impact others’ lives for many years to come.    

God bless you, Rindella.  I miss you.  I’m so very proud of you.  Watch over us as we continue our journey here on Earth.  Apparently, you got it right and so your job is now done.  Our is just beginning.