Elvis Presley, my mom and mortality

Elvis Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, 33 years ago this week. That date also was my mother’s 40th birthday.

What’s the connection? This:

Patsy is the one on the left.

This photo of my mother with Elvis was snapped after a concert in Sheffield, Ala., in 1955 — a few months before the young singer from humble beginnings in Tupelo, Miss., would generate the kind of hysteria that would make a semi-intimate fan photo like this almost impossible.  Then, he was just a handsome up-and-comer who was part of a multi-act touring show. After the release of Heartbreak Hotel in early 1956, his world — and ours — changed forever.

As for Patsy,  the young student from humble beginnings in Haleyville, Ala., obviously didn’t achieve international fame, but she did become an award-winning educator and a wonderful mother. She was only a slight fan of Elvis’ music (I think we owned maybe two of his albums), but his death, falling on the day she crossed over to middle age, clearly affected her. She seemed more stunned than mournful, perhaps because the demise at 42 of the larger-than-life personality who once briefly clasped her hand was an intimate reminder that youth is fleeting, and death can arrive when we least expect it.

Sadly, my mother’s own death came far too early as well — 14 years later, at the age of 54. And unlike Elvis’, it wasn’t sudden; cancer, not an overdose, was the culprit.

These two disparate lives crossed paths just once. Fortunately for me and my family, that moment is memorialized in this photo.

It’s impossible for me to look at it without feeling wonder and sadness at the trajectory of both their lives, especially the woman who helped me become the man I am today.

Happy birthday, Mom. I still miss you.


7 responses to “Elvis Presley, my mom and mortality

  1. Dear friend,

    My name is Fabris G.Luca,44 years old.

    I’m an Elvis researcher expecially on the early days.
    Mainly all these researches are in relation to a book/CD project for the Elvis fan club network I’ve been asked to help.The book will focus on 1954,1955 and early months of 1956 (before Elvis was really famous) and will consist of more than 400 early photos – half of them previously unpublished. It’s not an attempt of once again write the story of Elvis Presley, but more a collection of information, photos, memorabilia and stories shared by fans who where there
    at the time. The book will not deal in gossip or other unpleasant material,it’s all about the innocence of the time and the impact of Elvis’ music.
    We are trying to document every single show Elvis did, and we have come fairly
    close. So I’m looking for photos,recordings from Louisiana Hayride or Opry,or any live radio gig or interview …. ANYTHING IS WELCOME FROM THE50s!!

    I know the pic was taken in Sheffield and I heard the story from other people in the pic (not Elvis of course….) Do you have more pics from that night?

    Hope to hear from you soon and that this is not too much of an intrusion.

    Sincerely yours

    Fabris G.Luca
    Elvis Researcher

  2. Fabris: Sorry, that’s the only one I got. But best of luck with your research.

  3. Would love to be kept informed of your book on early days – photos etc. I’m from New Zealand so its really good to keep abreast of what happens in the States.

    Thank you

  4. Most personal article about elvis I’ve read in a long while …
    Thank you … and nice photo 🙂

  5. Fabris,

    I am currently the Mayor of Sheffield, Alabama. On our site “I love Sheffield” I am soliciting any memorabilia to do with Elvis’ appearances here. I was only 5 years old or so. If you are not on Facebook, you can google ” I love Sheffield Facebook” and read all that has been posted & look at photo’s. I think it is on this site that a young lady writes about her “date” with Elvis here.

    Back in the day …… an entertainer could quickly advance his career by performing at the Sheffield Community Center.

    I am most interested in your book also ….. perhaps kick it off with a book signing here.


  6. Hi Ian

    Write me at plcpf@tin.it


  7. Pingback: Johnny Otis, an all-American original | A Few Things Considered …

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