I remember the night vividly in August of 1977 when Elvis Presley passed away!!
I was a girl of the mere age of 9. We were at a place known as an old Southern Campground. For those of you not familiar, this is a place where a bunch of crazy southern people live in what is basically a shack with wood shaving floors for 10 days in the sweltering hot part of summer with no air conditioning, but- full kitchens, bedrooms and showers and church 3 times a day (yes I did say 3 times a day-it’s the bible buckle) If you have never been to one of these events you might believe that only one crazy family would venture to do this insanity every year and you might be right in the beginning- because it does have a family name, but to your surprise after 150 years of the event there are now over 100 different families who live in crazy proximity to each other in shacks in the misery of the southern summer heat with no air conditioning. I would continue, but this insanity really deserves it’s on time at a later date…………..
Back to the day Elvis died…. I had just turned the tender age of 9. I was at the crazy campground surrounded by many different people of all ages as we returned from evening service (Church for those not familiar with southern slang) and the radios announced Elvis Presley’s passing. Many of the women in their 40’s and 50’s began to cry. I remember becoming completely confused. These were women I had known for all my young life. I had seen them become the complete Rock of Gibraltars when family members passed and handle everything like a prize fighter (for those of you that don’t know many southern women – we handle what needs to be done and typically cry in private- Scarlett O’Hara wasn’t far off)
These strong women, who I had always seen as rocks, suddenly sat on the porches of their shacks together crying. These women who I had witness handle spouses and parents deaths, look at single motherhood in the 70’s without a second thought and conquer became weeping children because a celebrity whom they didn’t even know had passed away.
This was very confusing to a 9 year. I knew Elvis, my dad had a friend who loved Elvis- he even had the sideburns and looked like him and only played his music when we were at their house. I was aware he sang music, which to me, was tame and kinda dated. I knew he made movies- I had even seen a few and thought they were cheesy. Nothing I knew of Elvis helped me comprehend these women and their grief. I remember being a child baffled.
Well today was MY turn and I am no longer baffled!! Prince passed away today! Prince was the music of my formative youth. Prince was the music that had racy lyrics and themes we hid from our parents. He and Madonna (she’s still here) were our generations rebellion. I can’t be the only person that still remembers singing “Party Like It’s 1999” and thinking how far away that was and now it’s 17 years in the rear view….. He might of been the first to say masturbate on an album, but I doubt it- just the first one we heard. (Thank goodness for Darling Nikki) The Purple Rain album was the one we hid and took to camps and played after the chaperons went to bed. Prince was the soundtrack of my generation. When my brain still wants to be 15 regardless of my body and it’s aches the Prince and Madonna soundtracks still play.
What I realized today was those women, who were my age now, I saw crying in the 70’s were children of the 50’s when Elvis was racy. He was the music they hid from their parents when they were teenagers. He was the music they danced too when no one was watching and sang loudly when no one was listening and everything was ahead of you and anything was possible. Elvis was a person they did not know. They were not crying for the death of Elvis the man. They were grieving for the realization of their youth being gone. They grieved for the innocence and immaturity of youth. They grieved for the brutal realization of adulthood which had always been there, but as long as that ICON was there could somehow be recaptured. The death somehow made it permanent.
Getting old has it’s advantages (age and treachery over youth and enthusiasm an all), but damn some days the knees hurt!
Every generation has a “Day the Music Died” which actually should be translated to “The Day My Youth Died” because that is how we actually react and grieve. One generation had the day Buddy Holly and others passed in a plane crash, the next generation had Elvis passing and based on my 40 and 50 year old friends reactions today ours is Prince’s death.
To all of my friends floating with me in the same boat of middle age grieving our youth and all of those possibilities that we feel passed with Prince today just remember- “We are gathered here today to get through this thing called Life” so the next time you see a Purple Rain just dance and embarrass the kids- it’s all we got so might as well enjoy after you had your cry!!!
Oh- and don’t forget to keep on partying like it’s 1999- it’ll confuse the young folk until they’re at least 45 when it’ll be there turn too!!!! 🙂
This morning started off as usual. The alarm went off at 5:30. I grudgingly got out of bed and made my way through the house in the dark saying only a few choice words as I bumped into random things that hurt. I stumbled down the stairs and accomplished not breaking a bone. I attempt to get the oldest parasite out of the bed and into the shower. Now that he is a teenager this feat takes more energy than most things I do all day. There is crying, yelling, arguing, throwing blankets and pillows, and jumping around like a monkey- and those are just me. These are all just while he lays there saying the age old “Please-just 5 more minutes Mom” Now at this point I have two choices- I can stumble back through my dark house and hurt myself or just crawl in the bed with him. Guess which one I pick at 5:30? Well it certainly isn’t the injure myself option. Something amazing happened suddenly- my mission was accomplished- parasite got up! I smirk and say to myself “Note to Self”
I’m finding as I go through my life now as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, employee, and in general jack of all duties I am smirking and saying “Note to self” much more often. “Note to Self” is a powerful thing. It means you’re learning. I never really thought I would still be learning quite this much in my late 40’s, but I think I am actually learning much more.
You learn lots of “Notes to Self” in your teens and twenties. These are painful lessons:
1) Lying to your mother when she asks you a question is probably a mute point because she’s asking because she already knows
2) When you stick your head above a crowd they throw rocks at it- the hard part is those darn things can really be the size of boulders
3) Everyone you love isn’t going to love you back (unless they are family and then you’re just stuck with them)
4) Too much alcohol and no food is a dangerous combo and you’ll still probably do it again anyway
5) Smarting off to a policeman is never a good idea unless orange jumpsuits is your favorite outfit (I personally never learned this, but I live vicariously some days through the hubby)
Now as I age the “Notes to Self” are not as life changing and are much simpler, but happen much more frequently. They are also usually much more amusing to me.
These are just a few I had today:
1) Teenage boys don’t like mommy to crawl in bed with them and will jump up with no arguing.
2) Teenage girls say approximately one million words a second and as long as you listen to at least every ten you will still get the jist of the conversation and as long as you make eye contact and say yes every 100 words you are a GREAT mom.
3) When the toothpaste tube is cut in two on the bathroom counter so a parasite could brush their teeth it might be time to go the drug store and buy toothpaste
4) 11 year old boys should not be allowed to put on cologne unless you want them to smell like a cheap hooker.
5) When there are four prepubescent boys and yelling starts coming from downstairs – there is probably a fight going on and you should probably get up and go down. If you don’t- they all run upstairs and start yelling at you at once.
6) Changing my fonts and background on here was difficult for me and I just wanna write funny stuff and not conquer the internet. I can’t conquer my children so the internet is definitely beyond my capabilities. Hey – it’s also important to know your limitations.
In my twenties most of the lessons were painful and can only be amusing now that time has passed. In my 40’s the lessons are getting simple and funny. I can’t imagine the “Notes to Self” I will have in my 50’s and 60’s, but man am I looking forward to them. We talk a lot about wisdom as we age, but maybe wisdom is just a string of what I call “Notes to Self”
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