Nothing suppressed my mom’s fun-loving personality, not her circumstances and certainly not me. I am sorry to say, as a teenager, I often tried. I was embarrassed that Mom would be laughing and joking around with my friends. Over time, I have learned to appreciate Mom’s joyful spirit and see it as a blessing to myself and others. At the age of 84, Mom lived in a skilled nursing facility. Despite a series of strokes affecting her cognitive and speaking abilities, she was still anticipating the Elvis impersonator’s return visit. Since I wasn’t there for his first performance, the nurses and residents described how Mom danced with Elvis. So I was looking forward to witnessing Mom getting reacquainted with her dance partner.
When I arrived the next day, I met Mom in her room. I noticed a van pull up in the parking lot, facing Mom’s large window. The gray-haired gentleman, sitting in the driver’s seat, looked like he was singing. Mom saw the driver, too. She pointed and smiled. Could this be Elvis? Mom fluffed her hair and dabbed perfume behind her ears. Elvis was oblivious that his magnetic attraction was working even through a closed window.
For the King’s performance in the dining room, we managed to find two seats toward the front. Elvis had slicked back his gray hair and donned a tight white glittery jumpsuit with an attached cape. He strutted around warming up the audience, but not getting too close and personal with his public. When he approached us, he said, “You two look like you could be sisters.” That’s when Elvis made a wrong move. He leaned one inch too close to Mom. And that’s when she made her move. Her arms circled his neck, and at the same time, she pulled him towards her and off his feet. Mom gave him a big kiss on his cheek and hugged him tight.
Elvis looked at me and squeaked, “Help!”
I said, “That’s your fault, Elvis. You are on your own.”
Mom must have accomplished her goal because she let go. Elvis straightened up, smoothed back his hair, and adjusted his jumpsuit. I hoped he would still be able to hit all the proper low notes during his performance. Even though Elvis was all shook up, the show had to go on. Mom did not take her eyes from him as he sang along with his boom box. Several instances in between his songs, he would search in his bag on the floor and act a little mixed up. Every time Elvis stood back up, he smoothed his hair and adjusted his jumpsuit all over again.
His final song was about to begin. But before Elvis sang Love Me Tender, he said, “I usually have a pink scarf when I dance with someone special in the crowd. But I must have misplaced it the last time I performed here.” The lady residents groaned that the previous show’s magical moment would not take place. Mom just kept on smiling while he sang.
As Elvis left, we waved goodbye. Mom pushed her walker a bit quicker back to the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of him from the window. But he was already gone. While Mom went to the bathroom, I sat down beside her bed, ready to get a snack out of her nightstand. I slid open the drawer and reached in the back for one of her candy bars. Just then Mom came out of the bathroom. I said, “Where did you get this?” Mom just smiled at the pink silk scarf in my hand. Elvis may have left the building, but Mom “borrowed” his prop as a keepsake. For that, I thank him, I thank him very much.