Mandy Feder-Sawyer: 'Miranda fell in love with Tom Petty's music when she was just 2.'

TIMES PHOTO: MANDY FEDER-SAWYER - Miranda McLemore at her college graduation.It may seem like a drop in the bucket following the mass shooting the night before, but Monday got even worse for my 25-year-old daughter Miranda.

A mainstay in her life was gone — Tom Petty.

"My kids are never going to get to see Tom Petty," she said in a tearful voice. "My heart is broken."

Throughout her life, he was there.

"Thank you," I said to my daughter's idol after a show.

"No, thank you," Tom Petty said with a sly, slow tone and a crooked smile.

It was just before her 13th birthday. I splurged and bought second-row center seats, which included a blanket, a T-shirt, a book and a coffee cup.

He brought Stevie Nicks and Jackson Browne, too. It was a birthday party for him. "It's Good to be King," he sang as he donned his crown, that he would soon place on my little girl's head while he sang "American Girl."

"Take it easy, baby," he sang as she jumped up and down uncontrollably on the folding metal chair at Raley Field in Sacramento.

"I bet he thinks I'm his daughter," she said. I laughed and shook my head.

Miranda fell in love with Tom Petty's music when she was just 2. I bought a cassette tape at a yard sale for 10 cents and she played it until it broke.

I knew his music and liked it, but I never purchased any until then. It was part of my musical landscape in life — kind of a historic background, but she was a part of it.

We had seen him before — just before she was 5.

"Hey, little girl, you want a T-shirt?" the vendor said.

"Can I, mom?" Miranda asked at the sold-out Arco Arena show.

"Of course," I said.

"I'll take an extra-large," she told the man.

"You're going to swim in that thing," he said and laughed.

As if she was Linda Blair, circa The Exorcist, she said, "I don't care. I'm going to wear this the rest of my life." And she has.

At that show, Tom Petty dropped the spotlight on my child, pointed at her and blew her a kiss.

"This is the best day of my life," Miranda squealed.

I recall sitting with my toddler in front of the stereo listening to the "Pack Up the Plantation" album. There was a line that made her laugh. She made me do it because her little friends didn't understand her obsession.

She literally asked Santa to bring her Tom Petty for Christmas and was disappointed when he didn't deliver.

At a show when she was 7 or 8 years old, she brought a sign that read in crayon, "I'm your biggest littlest fan." She also made an attempt to sneak backstage.

She would spend the next 20-some-odd years listening, following and wishing she could be his friend, daughter, or anything.

At her college graduation, she painted her mortar board with the words, "There's something good waitin' down this road."

She saw his last show. He played "Walls," which she said she would play when I die. She never saw him play "Walls" before. He played it for himself — a special request, for himself. He said it was his favorite song.

Miranda attended two shows during his 40th anniversary tour. She called me at 6 a.m. one day and said, "Guess what I want for my birthday?" I knew it was tickets to see Tom Petty in Sacramento.

My husband Larry's band was playing in California the same day.

"Aren't you coming to our show?" he asked. "Who's more important, me or Tom Petty?"

Miranda laughed and said, "Don't make me answer that question."

I don't typically get too worked up about celebrity lives or deaths. I have friends and family I like to focus on. But this one was really different. It stung. His music was a genuine part of Miranda's being. It took her through good times and bad.

Texts, calls, social media posts started to flood my devices with messages such as, "Is Miranda OK?" "Have you talked to Miranda?" Everybody who knows her knows it was a dark and sad day.

I knew the day would come. I didn't think it would be this day, a day she was already horror-struck by the killings. I am confident his music will continue to comfort her and I'm grateful for his huge presence in her life.

"Some things are over. Some things go on. Part of me you carry. Part of me is gone. You got a heart so big, it could crush this town. I can't hold on forever, even walls fall down." — Tom Petty

Mandy Feder-Sawyer is a reporter for the Beaverton Valley Times.

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