Elvis And Family.

It was the 17th August 1977. I was fifteen years old and standing in my older sister’s kitchen in Diss, Norfolk, England. That morning I had crawled out of my bed, like any other non-school day, and made my way to the bathroom. After trying not to splash the toilet seat, being too lazy to lift it, I took a long searching look into the mirror situated just above the sink. This was in the futile hope of a better reflection coming back at me than the day before; as always I was destined to be disappointed. My skin could quite easily have been the moon’s surface a few million years before it had finally settled down! I then plunged head first into a bowl of cold water after coming up with the theory that if my whole face was less red my spots would not be so obvious. Instead my face just took on the appearance of a dried out prune, not the look I was hoping for. Then I heard it on the radio ELVIS WAS DEAD! He had died on the 16th August at 3.30 pm CST. This is where you need to understand something, I was a big Elvis fan, a very big Elvis fan, I mean fanatical. I lived and breathed him, my bedroom walls were like a shrine so needless to say I did not take this news at all well! In fact I was shell-shocked, I did not know what to do or even say. Under normal circumstances my lack of speech may well have gone completely unnoticed; me being a boy of fifteen who had a whole range of grunts at his disposal. However here I was, finding myself at my heavily pregnant sister’s house. Not an unusual situation for we were and still are very close, so as a teenager I was round there more often than not. Unable to suffer in silence any longer the words came spilling out of my mouth and flying from my lips, “ELVIS IS DEAD!” Her reply was not one of comfort or even concern for my loss. It was pure and simply a declaration, “I think my waters have broken!” Coming to the conclusion that maybe she had not heard me the first time I repeated my earth breaking news once more “BUT ELVIS IS DEAD!” The BUT was bound to make all the difference. Once more her response was disappointing, “Huwy, my waters have broken!” Was she trying to turn this into some kind of competition or was she just trying to wind me up? Then it hit me, my excuse is I was still growing and it took those few extra seconds for one more brain cell to completely form to allow me to get it. My grief very quickly turned into an inner panic. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister but watching her give birth on the kitchen floor would surely have damaged me for life! Fortunately I was given a reprieve, in time I would see a birth and all it entailed but that’s another blog! On the morning of the 18th August my first niece was born. This was to be a life changing moment, not just because I had become an uncle for the first time but it was the start of a new generation; leading to four nieces and five nephews from my two sisters and my own children, two girls and two boys. Many are now grown up and some have gone on to have their own families. Still from time to time we all get together and encourage, joke or comfort each other; whatever is needed at the time but always there and never judging. Elvis inspired me as a young boy and made me want to be just like him. We all need heroes in our lives, someone to look up to or just believe in. It could be your father, mother or a person far removed from your day to day life, like Elvis. It may even be a fictional character like those in my novel ‘The Mark of the Gate’. It does not matter who because it inspires and gives you faith in others. I now look at my ever growing family and feel a pride in belonging, for they are now MY heroes. With time I have learned that the people who love us, and we love back, let us define ourselves. What greater gift is there than belief?

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