Friday, August 16, 2013

Boy Do I Remember This Day

It was 1977. I was at  cheer leading camp right before starting my senior year of high school. I'll never forget it. My good friend Olga Watts (our cute little mascot) told us Elvis Presley had just died. It rocked us all. The King was dead?

He was so sexy  when he was young. Of course when he died he was a big ole fat dude but was still "The King."

For some unknown reason, it troubled me deeply.

I remember going into a phone booth and calling my Momma. This was at a point in my life when I NEVER called my Momma. I was seventeen and the captain of my cheer leading squad. I had reached the highest level of "Coolness" with my peers and Momma was a woman who crossed her knees when she sneezed. I allowed her drive me to school every morning but made sure she let me out of the car a block away from the school. I was on top of my game...a rising senior and captain of the squad! 

When Elvis died, it suddenly struck me. If the "King" could die, anybody could.

I sat in a corner of the phone booth after dialing  home. When she answered, I asked if she had heard the news? She said she had and I simply started crying. I'm not sure why I was so upset. It wasn't like I was a huge Elvis fan but his death struck a chord with me.

 I unloaded my soul. I told her I didn't realize how quickly death could approach someone. Then I started sobbing. I told her I was sorry  for what a selfish brat I had been. I told her how sorry I was for the way I treated her. I told her I was sorry acting like she was an embarrassment to me when in fact she was the greatest thing in my life. I told her I loved her.

She simply listened to my blubbering and the one thing I remember most is that she said "I know you love me, don't ever forget it."

She picked me up  from camp two days later. She sat on a bench with my best  friend and co-captain's mom and waited for us.
This is the last picture ever taken of my Momma. She sat there on that bench, in an outfit she had sewn herself, pants and top. She held a bag in her lap she had also made. She never mentioned my tearful phone call but hugged my neck and  said "Let's go home."

The next  day she took me shopping for school clothes with my older sister who was married and I can remember laughing behind her back when she sneezed while crossing her legs.

I was in the dressing room  trying on another pair of jeans when my sister yelled out for help. I looked out to see Momma clutching for a rack of clothes. She seemed dazed, held onto  the rack but fell bringing the rack down with her.

My  older sister immediately started CPR and the store clerk called 911. Ten seconds later she opened and shut her eyes.

She was gone before the ambulance ever got there. She was gone by the time our Diddy got there from Fulton Industrial Boulevard, a twenty minute drive from his work place. They loaded her into an ambulance and took off for Grady Memorial hospital with my sister and me close behind in the car.

We got to Grady and  Diddy  was sitting in a room alone with  a phone book in his lap calling  a close friend to go pick up my brother from work at  the grocery store.

She was gone.

One of my aunt's came by  the house the next day. She told me  Momma had talked to her the day before and said how much my call from camp had meant  and  that I never needed to tell her I loved her, she knew I did even if I didn't show it.

I beat myself up for years after that, but do you know how much worse it would have been if the King hadn't died and  woken me up to the fact  that life has no guarantee?

My kudos to Elvis.

When my kids diss me, roll their eyes at me or talk smack to me, I take it all with a grain of salt.  They love me. They love me with all my faults,  they love me with all the embarrassing things I put them through  and  love me for all  the things I have helped THEM through.

" Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Although  I have to sometimes constantly remind myself...I am  the luckiest woman, wife and mother on the face of  this great big planet we all call home.

Til next  time...COTTON


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