While the title Tell It Sister, Tell It would lead one to believe that this is a tell-all book from Stella Parton, it is much more than that. Stella chronicles “memories, music and miracles” from her life in what she bills as an “inspirational memoir.”
Written as a series of “short stories,” each chapter is a stand-alone snippet of Stella’s life. In the first chapter, “He’s God’s Baby Now,” Stella sets the scene at her father’s funeral, describing in detail her deepest emotions, “There he lay in that beautiful mahogany casket, his head on a fluffy white pillow. Somehow, he seemed so small. My handsome Daddy with the long curly eyelashes, now closed were those beautiful blue eyes.” Yet during one of the saddest moments of her life, Stella finds the strength, compassion and love to invite her half-brother and half-sister into the receiving line. This chapter sets the theme for the entire book – that even in the darkest of times, there is hope.
The first section, labeled “Memories,” is primarily about her family and growing up in East Tennessee. From her mother’s illnesses to losing her baby brother, Stella pulls no punches. Yet from the good times to the bad, Stella finds hope in it all. She ends “Memories” with the passing of her mother and completes the chapter with these sweet, loving words, “My parents were both very unique individuals. Anything special my siblings or I possess comes from them. I hope the love will always remain with us. I love you Mama. Goodbye little girl. And when I see a cardinal or a field of daisies, I will think of you and my heart will sing.”
Moving on to “Music,” Stella takes us through the ups and downs of her musical career. While there has been much speculation over the years by media and fans about the relationship between Stella and her sister, Dolly, one can surmise through these pages that while there may have been tense moments at times (as happens in all families), their love for each other and their family remains strong. Stella’s musical journey has been her own and although she has made her living as an entertainer, she actually sees herself more as a missionary, using her gifts and talents to improve the lives of others and to be a messenger of hope.
From the funny road tales to the terrifying story of almost being raped, one can see that Stella’s journey has not been easy, yet she has maintained a successful career for more than 30 years. How has she done that? As noted in her book, “All of us have a bit of the phoenix in us and we need to use it to our advantage as we improve and enjoy our lives. If we can’t get over something or under it and there’s no way to get through it, for goodness sake, just go around it.”
The final section, “Miracles,” is perhaps the most philosophic of all, it is amazing to read Stella’s take on things. Despite all she’s been through, she refuses to be a “victim” and maintains a positive attitude. Expressing that belief, she writes, “I live for the next miracle with every breath I breathe, every blue sky, every dramatic cloud formation, every refreshing storm that cleanses the earth, every sunset, every sunrise, every wind chime, the sprinkle of laughter from a children’s playground or the voice of my son saying, ‘Mom, I love you.’”
Tell It Sister, Tell It is an interesting read first simply as alook into the life of Stella Parton, but more importantly it is also inspirational for everyone facing some sort of trial or tribulation – and isn’t that all of us!