By GUY D’ASTOLFO
One year ago, Phyllis McAuley was laid up in a hospital bed, her life in the balance. She suffered an open-book pelvic fracture in a motorcycle accident on U.S. Route 422 in Warren on St. Patrick’s Day 2012.
Fast forward to a little more than a year later, and McAuley is moving around with a walker and a cane and totally psyched for tonight’s Kid Rock concert at Covelli Centre in Youngstown.
The Niles woman — who possesses an energetic spirit that cannot be kept down — might be Kid Rock’s biggest fan. She has seen him perform about a dozen times and has all of his CDs. A room in her house is devoted to Kid Rock T-shirts, hoodies, posters, ticket stubs and other memorabilia. She also has a Kid Rock tattoo on her back.
The accident changed everything for McAuley, who was a secretary at Trumbull Memorial Hospital for 20 years. She is now on full disability.
She woke up in the hospital four days after the crash and had to lay flat on her back for six months. Doctors were unsure if she was going to make it. She eventually began to use a wheelchair, and two months ago began to move on her power, with a cane or walker.
Still, nothing could keep her from seeing Kid Rock. She was listening to Kid Rock’s “Roll On” while driving her motorcycle at the time of the accident. In a way, tonight’s show will bring her full circle.
“After the accident, every moment is important to me,” said McAuley. “It’s important to live life to the fullest.”
What is it about Kid Rock that has had her hooked since his first album? “I just like him,” said McAuley. “Maybe it’s because he is a bad boy.”
Kid Rock’s music has evolved from his early rap-tinged beginnings to the countrified sound of “Rebel Soul,” and McAuley said she loves it all the same.
At one concert, she was in the front row and got a hand-slap from her idol. “I was so excited. I said, ‘I don’t do drugs, but I’m higher than anybody here,’” she recalled.
She’ll attend tonight’s concert with her children, Sandi and Doug, and a friend. Her husband, Jim, who can’t match Phyllis for Kid Rock fervor, was originally going to go but gave up his ticket.
“He told me on my deathbed, ‘Honey, please get well and we’ll go to the next Kid Rock concert,’” said McAuley. “But when I go to Kid Rock, I go early and stay late. He can’t abide by the rules, so my friend Tammy took his ticket,” she said with a laugh.