Friday, August 17, 2007

The King

Today is the day the Elvis died. Just like I remember where I was when Ronald Regan was shot...the challenger exploded...Oklahoma City bombing...9/11...I remember distinctively where I was and what I was doing. That's the way it is with everyone, I think when something tragic happens that shocks our culture, stuns our sense of safety, or just simply murders innocence.

This summer day of 1977 I was 7 years old and spending the day with Tiger, Julie and my Auntie Ilene. She was a tremendous fan of Elvis, everyone was a fan of Elvis in my world. Even my bluegrass loving Dad, liked Elvis. He really crossed all genre's and appealed to everyone. Tiger and I had been playing outside under the huge Spruce tree which was our own little Narnia. We were dying of thirst and craving some of my Aunt's sweet tea. We went into the house to get some tea, there is no sweet tea better than Auntie Ilene's. As the aluminum screened door slammed shut we hear a wailing from my Aunt's bedroom. That's when time stood still and everything kind of moved in corn syrup. Tiger and slowly looked at each other and decided to make our way to the back of the house to check out the noise.

It was kind of a struggle for us to decide who was going first since we were both chickens. It was ultimately decided that Tiger would lead the way since it was his Mom and his house. Of course we were walking like Siamese twins down the dark hallway. As we made it to the bedroom I couldn't see my Aunt, but I could certainly hear her crying like I've never heard her before. On the chenille bedspread were all of her Elvis albums spread out and she was sitting on the floor with her arms spread over the albums saying, "he's gone...he's gone." there was an instant when tiger and I thought that one of the albums was missing, but then, "he's dead...Elvis is dead."

That was the first time that I ever witnessed someone mourning the loss of a celebrity to the level and degree that they didn't even show toward their loved ones. By seven I had been to my fair share of funerals and never seen anything like this. I think she's over it now...maybe.

One of my friends Jamie, whom I work with, is a complete fan of Elvis and has brought Fran and I along the journey of the 30th anniversary of his death. She has helped me see just how significant he was in the shaping of the rock culture in which I grew up. I'm looking forward to chatting with Mildred about this, we love spending hours and hours talking about duke like this. My other friend, Darrel and I would have spent many, many lunch conversations on this topic and I would have loved it.

To all of the Elvis loving fan' heart goes out to you as you celebrate and yet even mourn his loss.


Donna Layton said...

I was 15. Watching a rerun of Emergency. They ran it across the screen. Mom and Aunt Mattie were in the kitchen. Aunt Mattie used to spend a couple of months a year with us. I was totally shocked and deeply saddened. I grew up on Elvis. My parents took me to see him in concert 4 times and I went with a friend and her parents one time. My dad, of course, WOULD NOT let me run up to the stage, but Vicki's parents let us go up there. I touched Elvis' hand and made eye contact with him. I'll never forget it; my mouth ran completely dry. It's a frozen moment in time. My dad also loved Elvis. I think everyone in our region is an Elvis fan. He was so unique in every way and so genuine. He was way too young to die. I really think if he could have stood up to the colonel and taken the role of John Norman Howard in A Star Is Born, it may have changed the course of his life and saved it. Elvis never really got to do what HE wanted to do because of his loyalty to Colonel Parker.
God rest his soul. He truly was and will forever be "the king."

Lisa Renéa said...

Loved your story & I also love Mildred's. I'm amazed that over 75,000 folks waited in 105 + degree heat to visit the gravesight, Wed/Thurs. As much as I love Elvis, I don't think I have that sort of dedication. On a whole other point, I often wonder why chenille bedspreads went out of style :)? It's been a bit since, I visited your blog--forgot how neat your stories are!

Jamie S said...

Oh, man, I wish you and Fran could have been along for THIS ride! Memphis was crazy with that many people all there for the same reason and in the same places. The 30th Anniversary Concert was unbelievable. Who else could sell out the FedEx Forum 30 years after his death? It was neat to be with that many people who loved him. I'm sure that meant alot to his family (including all his grandchildren) who were in attendance. Graceland was beautiful with the hundreds of floral tributes from all over the world. We heard at least a dozen different languages at every event. What an impact he made on the world.
Everytime I go, I wonder...
How do you miss someone you never met?

Jamie S said...

Great picture by the way!