Yes, My Darling, Elvis Has Left The Building


“When I grow up, I’m going to marry Elvis,” my seven-year old daughter, Maggie stared dreamy-eyed at the tv.  Elvis in all his glory was singing “Love Me Tender.”  Oh, my. Who could blame her. My heart was melting with hers. How can I possibly break this to her?  I started with the safest answer, “Baby, Elvis would be like grandma and grandpa’s age when you grow up.” There, that should be the end of it. Good job, me!  “But I’ll grow up really fast, Mama,” she nearly pleaded with me.  Oh boy. There is no  easy way out of this.  I was timid and quietly said, “Honey, Elvis is dead.  He died a long time ago when I was a little girl.”  No point breaking it to her gently. I may have just as well shouted it at her through a bull horn into her sweet little face.  She erupted into angry heart wrenching tears, “You’re lying!  He’s alive and I’m going to marry him!”  I tried to soothe her, “Sweetie, he was a wonderful singer and lots of women felt the same way that you do. It was SO sad when he died.”  She was having none of it, “You take that back RIGHT NOW.  Mama, Elvis can’t be dead.  He just can’t.”  I recognized the softening in her tone.  She came to me and let me hold her, “But, Mama, how could he have died. What happened?” Oh, man! WHY? Whydo I have to tell this story. How can I delicately tell the tale of Elvis’s death?  “FML” was not a term back then, but THIS was truly an “FML” moment.

I paused, took a deep breath and said, “Well, he was sick and some people found him dead in his bathroom.” That ought to do it. Enough said…..   Nope!  “What was he doing in the bathroom?” Her grief had dissipated and pure curiosity was front and center. Crap! Literally, crap! Well, out with it, I guess.  I stammered, “Well, um, he was on the,  uh, toilet, and no one is really sure what, um,  happened. Probably he had a heart attack.”  Her response was something between surprise, disbelief, and is that amusement?  “Elvis died on the toilet?!”  Maggie has always had a voice that carries.  Soon I had four other children giggling and repeating “Elvis died on the toilet!”  Oh, something has gone terribly wrong. This is a derailed train, leaking toxic chemicals all over my life!  How was I to contain this frenzy, to give this legend, this lovely man back his dignity. I’m SO sorry, Elvis!  

“OK, all of you, settle down. We are going to talk about this. STOP giggling! This is not funny!  Elvis was a wonderful man. He sang beautiful songs and rock and roll songs. They called him the king of rock and roll.  He made movies.  He loved his mother.  He loved Jesus. He was in the army. Did you know that he loved grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches? That’s kinda fun, right?  Alright now, I want you all to think of all the good things  about Elvis.” I racked my brain for any other things I could say to save the legacy of this rock icon to my small rambunctious bunch.  “Elvis was the king of rock and roll.  I want you all to think about that,” I said with the most heartfelt look I could muster up. Do I dare open a discussion?  It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. What could go wrong?

“Is there anything any of you want to say?”  After all of the wonderful and interesting things I could think of had been said, Serrah opened the dialogue with, “So, was he ON the toilet? Was he pooping?” Lord please, make it stop. This is SO bad!  More giggles from everyone, and I gave up. I did my best to block them all out as I did the dishes and went about my life.  Later that night, I heard two-year-old Ben say to his twin, Max as they were supposed to be going to sleep, “Elvis died on the toilet.”  Max giggled back, “Yeah, on the TOILET”  Saying prayers with the girls included Maggie’s addition of, “And, God, bless Elvis….. I really wanted to marry him.”

Love me tender
Love me sweet
Never let me go
You have made my life complete
And I love you so

Love me tender
Love me true
All my dreams fulfilled
For my darling I love you
And I always will

Love me tender
Love me long
Take me to your heart
For it’s there that I belong
And we’ll never part

Love me tender
Love me dear
Tell me you are mine
I’ll be yours through all the years
Till the end of time

(When at last my dreams come true
Darling this I know
Happiness will follow you
Everywhere you go)

3 thoughts on “Yes, My Darling, Elvis Has Left The Building

Add yours

  1. Such a sweet story for Valentine’s Day. Was just listening to his songs on the way home. You pulled out a lot of good memories quickly…good for you!

  2. Your humorous retelling of this story and your kids’ giggles remind me of your “Love My Messy Life” blog title: all of our lives are filled with both beauty and embarrassingly humorous moments (even when those moments are concurrently tragic – as was Elvis’ untimely and undignified death). Thank you.

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