Page receives gift of a lifetime from Garth

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By Tim Hendrick

When Jessica Page purchased tickets to the Jan. 27, Garth Brooks concert as Christmas presents for her husband, Jake, and her brother, Johnny Leep and his fiancé, Brooklyn Hesterberg, never in her wildest dreams did she know the concert would become a personal fairy tale.

Jessica said she grew up listening to Garth with her dad and can remember jumping around her basement when she was five years old with her brothers as they belted out the words to “Standing Outside the Fire.” Her husband grew up listening to Garth with his mother. Their favorite song is “Much Too Young.”

When Jake and Jessica began dating in 2004, they bonded over their love for country music, especially Garth Brooks. She said that Jake would tease her that “Unanswered Prayers” reminded him of them. She said it would make her mad until she heard the end of the song with the lyrics, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are all too often unanswered… Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

In 2010 the happy couple cut their wedding cake to one of their favorite Brooks songs, “She’s Every Woman.”

Jake and Jessica have seen Brooks five times in concert, including twice in one night in Nashville. Jessica had become aware of the “housekeeping” that Garth does at the end of each of his shows, and she knew that she wanted to make a poster to take with her to the concert in Cincinnati, Jan. 27.  

Brooks returns, often unaccompanied, as part of the encores for what he dubs the “housekeeping segment,” in which he scans the crowd for fans with signs requesting songs, performing them acoustically.

Jessica is an elementary art, music and dance teacher at Campbellsburg Elementary School in Campbellsburg, Ky. Ironically she spent the day of the concert teaching her students about string instruments using two guitars that had a total of eight strings between them. During her down time at school, she made not one, not two, but three posters that said “She’s Every Woman.” She said the poster had to be perfect.

At the concert, when Brooks came out to do his “housekeeping” Jessica said she prayed he would see her sign, as she and Jake had never heard their song performed live before.

Jessica said their seat was on the side, but not too far from the stage. She stood on the steps and held her poster as high as she could. Even though she wanted it to be perfect, the poster had endured a lot on the floor during the concert and was a bit mangled. She said Jake and her future sister-in-law Brooklyn shined their cell phone lights onto her poster to give it an extra boost.

Jessica walked down the steps from their seats holding her poster. She froze when she realized Garth was looking in her direction when she recognized the familiar introduction to hers and Jake’s favorite song. Garth began to play, “She’s Every Woman!” “This is happening.” Jessica thought to herself.

She kept moving closer to the arena floor. Once Jessica reached the floor she started toward the stage, still holding up her poster.

“I couldn’t help myself,” Jessica said. “I was drawn to Garth, as though I were in a dream. It didn’t seem real. It still doesn’t.”

Brooks continued to sing their song and Jessica found herself standing in front of him, singing right along with him.

“I was euphoric,” she said. “I never once thought to grab my phone and document the moment.”

Little did Jessica know, the moment was not over. After Brooks finished singing, he started talking to her.

“I mean Garth was talking to me, an art and music teacher from Carrollton, Ky.,” Jessica said. “He asked me about my husband and about how I knew the song. I was having a conversation with him.”

She described it as simply incredible. Then it got even more incredible for her. To sweeten the night, Garth reached out and handed her his guitar pick, and then told her to take his guitar capo to her husband and to tell him that he [Garth] said hello.

“It was unreal,” Jessica said. “I was overwhelmed with emotion. He was so generous and sweet. I thought this moment is perfect. It cannot possibly get any better than this.” Much to her surprise it got much better.

Garth unstrapped his guitar and said, “As a couple why don’t you just take this” as he handed it to Jessica.

“He handed me his guitar,” she said. “I was so amazed and I thought I was dreaming. I was shaking so hard I could barely reach out and take it.”

She described it as being like an out-of-body experience.

“I kept thinking how special this all was—not only for me but for Jake,” Jessica said. “I could not wait to get back to Jake with the guitar. He would be over the moon.”

Jessica still gets emotional when she tries to describe that Friday night and how special it was to her, her family and friends, her students and even to strangers.

She said she would like to thank fellow concertgoer Jim Seward for capturing the moment and posting the video on Facebook, hoping it would reach her. The video found her and it has been shared more than 7,500 times.

“Thank you to everyone who shared the moment with me, in person or through the Internet,” Jessica said. “It was a once in a lifetime moment and I promise to pay it forward.”

She continued to thank her father for introducing her to Garth Brooks and to her husband, who shares her love of Garth’s music. Her biggest thanks was for Garth Brooks, first for writing and recording the soundtrack to her life, and for giving to her and to Jake a moment they would treasure together forever.

In a Facebook post documenting her evening she concluded saying, “Jake, my husband, my best friend, here’s to a life that’s ‘so unpredictable.’ Even at its worst it ain’t that bad.”

Jessica said two Cincinnati television stations and the Henry County Local contacted her about the events of the night.

The plans for the guitar are split. Jessica was going to keep it out and play it, but Jake wants to put it in a clear case on the wall with their tickets and a flash drive with the video of the evening.

An article at wideopencountry.com by Jeremy Burchard said “according to Guitar Center, the instrument — a Garth Brooks signature model Takamine GB76 — costs around $1,500. But one played by the man himself? While he played the song you danced to at your wedding? Well, that’s beyond priceless.”

Jessica said the back of the guitar was scratched by Garth’s belt buckle so she figures it was one of the guitars he plays regularly. There is also wear under the strings from where the pick has hit the guitar.

Jessica has taken the guitar to her school where she teaches art, music and dance. She said all the students have gotten to see it and hear her play it. A few select students were able to strum the guitar and all her teaching co-workers got to handle it.

She said they stayed in Cincinnati after the concert and she is not sure her feet touched the ground after they left the arena. Plus, she is pretty sure she floated home the next day in the car.