Friday, August 17, 2012

Elvis Has Left...

Elvis Presley passed away on August 16, 1977. While that wasn’t one of his best days, I happen to hold that date in particular fondness.

When my brother and sister were young, they often would visit for a week or so with my husband and I during the summer while they were out of school. It was a novelty for them to spend time in New York, where we lived at the time, and they were good company for us and our new baby boy. We loved having them around, they were fun kids.

The summer of 1977 was a memorable one. The Son of Sam was still at large. There was a blackout that July that lasted for days and resulted in horrific rioting and looting in the city. It seemed as though it was HOT all the time. The Yankees were in their 75th season and they were on their way to another World Series. So when my brother Tom came to stay with us that August, it was only natural to head up to the Bronx to catch a game.

Even though he was just 14, Tom was one of the funniest people I knew. On the train he kept up a running monologue that was hilarious, relating a complicated saga that involved my father, a pile of laundry and an alarm clock that had a short in it. I cannot for the life of me remember how these things were connected, but he had us laughing so hard we were crying. There was an older black lady sitting on the seat behind us, trying to pretend she wasn’t listening to him. She was actually shaking silently with laughter as he pricelessly mimicked my father.

The game itself was a nail biter. The Yankees were leading by 5 until the ninth inning when the Chicago White Sox pulled ahead and the score was 9 to 10. It looked like the game was over. But Chris Chambliss hit a two run homer in the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees ended up winning 11 to 10.

So we were in great spirits as we headed home. On the train, a man was reading the late edition of the Post. It was flopped over so you could only see part of the headline, “ELVIS AT”, but not the other two words. So Tom starts leaning over to try to read the rest. He kept sinking down and down until finally he was practically lying on the subway floor. At that point the man slowly lowered the paper and stared down at him. Without moving Tom looked up at us and said “DIES 42”. And the three of us got hysterical laughing. Poor Elvis.

Of course thirty five years on and Tom is a grown man now, with a family of his own. He is still hilariously funny and witty and I love him. But we had a disagreement ten years ago over my mother’s seventieth birthday party and he hasn’t spoken to me since. I’ve made overtures, without any luck. I miss him terribly.

I note the anniversary of Elvis’s death every year for a different reason than everyone else. I think of a fine, long ago summer evening and three people who no longer exist as they were. I gratefully remember my little brother, my handsome young husband and my sweet naïve self as we shared a few happy hours filled with fun and affection and innocent laughter.


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10 comments:

annie said...

I have no memory whatsoever of what I did the day Elvis died. In my defense, I was only six years old. Loved this post. So sad that you're estranged from your brother, I hope that eventually time will mend the hurt and he will come back.

Anji said...

I was on holiday when Elvis died. We'd found a bar where we could have lunch and everyone was talking about it. It was like the world as I knew it had missed a cog. Elvis had always been there!

I hope that your brother comes back to you. Hope he's remembering that day too.

Muffie said...

We were at the Jersey shore, driving home, when the news came over the radio. My aunt was with us, and she hated Elvis -- so there was little mourning in that car.
Your brother sounds like my son -- witty and full of mischief! So sorry you, too, have an estranged brother -- I haven't seen mine in sixteen years.

Peace,
Muff

Patty Woodland said...

I had graduated high school that May so I was getting ready for college that August.

Such a long estrangement over when written in this post seems to be such a minor issue. But such is the way of family.

Marie said...


Annie - Hi! Welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind comment.

Anji - It is so funny that Elvis' death is a cultural phenomenon. The power of fame is incredible.

Muffie - You were at the Jersey shore and that is where I am now! I wonder why your aunt didn't like Elvis?

Patty - And you were here at the Jersey shore then too, weren't you? Was it Georgian Court you were going to?

To all of you: Thank you so much for your good thoughts about reconciling with my brother someday. I hope that will happen. The worst thing is my baby boy in the post also no longer speaks to me, but I don't know why and he won't discuss it with me. To say my heart is broken does not even begin to cover it. We were close and then two years ago, out of nowhere, he said he needed distance.

I miss him so much it is physically painful.

I belong to a website for parents who are estranged from their children. It is heartbreaking to see how prevalent it is.

Jane Turley said...

I was twelve when Elvis died. I remember it well as I was a big Elvis fan - most school holidays they would show Elvis movies on the TV - one a day every morning - and I was addicted to them!

Pope Jean Paul I dying the following year after only a month in office had a similar effect on me.

I guess it nice that people remember Elvis' death as like Lennon/Jackson/Diana he did have a big impact. It's just some people take it all too far and I suppose that's when it becomes a little unhealthy.

Try ringing Tom again. It's ridiculous to fall out over a birthday party. Ten years should have been long enough for him to calm down. Tell him to stop being a prat and haul his ass down to see you. Life is to short.

Marie said...

Jane, that cracks me up that you were an Elvis fan!! He never did anything for me.

Some people do carry things too far. I guess I go in the other direction, as it really doesn't impact me at all, except to feel some sadness at death at such a young age. I did feel particularly bad when the Princess of Wales died because of the children. They just broke my heart.

I have tried and tried with Tom. My sister does too. So maybe one of these days he will come around.

Love ya, Jane! xoxo Thanks for your encouraging comment.

Jane Turley said...

Okay - this will crack you up even further: I used to impersonate Elvis. And Cliff Richard. And Alvin Stardust.

Oh blimey, I can't believe some of the things I used to do...(bangs head on wall with embarrassment.)

I will keep my fingers crossed about Tom. At the end of the day he's a man - most of them have a time in their lives when they act like complete jerks. He'll get over it eventually! (Says me Ex-Elvis impersonator)

Ps I was school kid - it was excusable. I hope.

Linda said...

I was 17 and heard it from some neighbors. It was in the afternoon/evening and apparently I'd not seen the paper.

I hope at some point your brother ends your estrangement. Life is too short.

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