Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Elvis, Hurricanes, and Loss

When I was 8 years old, my mother took me to my first concert. It was an all-star country music show. We saw The Carter Family, Faron Young, Web Pierce, Kitty Wells, and The Hillbilly Cat, a young man who wiggled around on stage while the girls screamed, and he broke his guitar strings as he sang “Heartbreak Hotel” . Yes, he was also known as Elvis Presley. After the show we followed the crowd to the back stage door for autographs. I had a program printed on bright yellow cardstock with Elvis’ photograph. He took my program, looked at me, and curled up his lip in a smile and scribbled his name across the photograph. I was in heaven! We moved several times after that concert, but I always carefully packed my Elvis autograph with my most prized possessions.

When I was about 10 years old, I came home from school one day to a clean bedroom. My mother had cleaned it thoroughly. I reached under my bed for my box of movie star clippings and photographs. They were gone. They were there when I left for school. Now they were gone. My Elvis autograph was in that box. My mother denied throwing the box away, but it was gone nevertheless. I cried myself to sleep that night. Now I look back and realize that I had many losses up to that point, but none of them affected me the way the loss of my Elvis autograph. I was devastated.

I don’t think my mother meant to be cruel. Her intention was to teach me a lesson about keeping my room clean. My mother’s parenting style was impulsive retribution. And she never looked back or reconsidered her actions. Perhaps this incident was the source of my emotional tendency to “hold on” to certain special items. Do not misunderstand. I have seen The Hoarders on television. I am NOT a hoarder. I do have some sense of when my little house is beginning to get cluttered, and then I take care of business. However, until just a few years ago, I had a home away from home--- my classroom. That’s where many of my favorite things were stored. Now I don’t have that extended space, and the time has come to take care of business.

I gave away tons of things when I retired. Most of it was easy to part with, since I knew I would not need it any more….books for the students, bulletin board displays, posters, supplies, bookcases, and even a nice stool. However, there were many things I could not bear to lose. Now that I have had some time to consider what I will be doing with my days, I realize that I saved many things I won’t need anymore. It’s time to find them a new home.

I have to admit, the loss of some of my favorite things is really hard for me. However, I have to put it into perspective. Right now there are people who are suffering catastrophic loss up and down the East Coast from hurricane damage. We lost our power. We lost our Internet connection and our cable television service. We even lost a couple of trees in our yard, but we are all safe. And our loss is not even worth mentioning when I consider all the blessings we have. I am so grateful. Our prayers are with all of those who were not so fortunate. And if anyone happens to see my Elvis autograph floating around on a program made of yellow cardstock, let me know.

No comments:

Post a Comment