Tag Archives: Elvis

Michelle from the Rockies

Close your eyes

And relax

Think of nothing tonight

It’s June. As I breath in the cool Cascade Range air, I hold the lead and watch my filly eat ‘other side’ grass. I continue to think about Michelle. She couldn’t like horses even if she wanted to and she really sold it that she didn’t want to. When I wasn’t getting Rusty’s allergy-laden dander under my nails, I was ‘helping’ her clean our house, fold clothes, and prep food for the hay crew. Cleaning to the Jesus Christ Superstar LP always felt fun. It was energizing and made it a bit wild, like we were breaking the rules. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to listen. I don’t recall. Mom was in town and I already knew all the words to ‘Light of a Clear Blue Morning’ and my new cassette likely needed a break. Seems we all liked music. Country, rock, gospel, bluegrass, and folk were on the polished shelf. Serious rules were associated with the new combo record/8track/radio system. It was housed on the nicest piece of furniture in our living room. Michelle could select songs on an LP just exactly the ones she wanted to play. I could just let it play. This player didn’t ‘eat’ the tapes at first. We played and played and played those tapes. Certainly beyond what any engineer planned. ‘Put your hand in the hand’ was played so we could sing and re-sing.

Standing in the washroom looking North at the ‘big hill’, I vividly recall with mirroring courage and conviction of voice, that had I been able to go, I certainly would not have had to deal with the thunderstorm mess. It is safe to assume that Michelle wished for this more than my wish and not because of the storm. Begging and pleading fails, I was not able to join my parents to see Elvis. Even though they had already seen him so many times. Our days in Vegas only created more connection for them to this iconic being. Now he was coming to Rapid. So close to me. Our shopping town even.

June always delivered record-breaking storms. Mom feared the gully-washers. I never wondered about the meaning but Clint and I used to play in those washed out sand gullies for hours. Inches of rain would deliver sand that would completely cover our yard, seep into our storage cellar and sometimes the old crappy washroom. This was one of those times. The big hill, at least 6x taller than our house, seemed to embrace us. To protect us from winds. Then it would quickly undo weeks of manicured work, with it’s finer-than-beach sand.

Michelle’s Mom, her Sister and her Brother would come to visit all of us. They were our family from Denver. Dad is her Mom’s brother. They loved to climb that big hill. Well, they didn’t love climbing it but loved the view from the top. We would always ‘wow’ the view as if it were the first time we had seen it. In the evening we would race until our hearts hurt, trying to beat the sunset. Her siblings also liked the horses, not pretending. They went on trail rides with Dad. I didn’t go so they could ride Rusty, my most trusty steed. Even though their eyes would puff up and sneezing would ensue they were supremely happy with their moments of being a cowboy and cowgirl. It was nice to share in all of this. The horses, the hill, the music.

Michelle was one of many girls my Mom would hire during the Summer to help out on the ranch. They would be there to learn and to earn money. To focus. To cook three meals per day for a large crew of working men (most were boys, Mom always called them ‘men’) including desserts from scratch, garden vegetables and fried chicken. It is surreal to recall freshly killed chickens would be just-in-time for dinner. I am confident that while she would help pluck feathers, Michelle refused to eat chicken on those days.

After the Summer of ‘77, miles would then separate us from her. She would return to the city life. Our lives would continue on with memory making like what today’s cool crisp air would help me revisit. Michelle likely knew that while she was ‘sent to Billie’s’, she was also an influence of courage, joy and conviction.

We would learn that from an accident, she would face death’s door at least one other time before now. It would not be her time. Her time is soon. Aunt Arlene is with her. ‘Helping’ her. Tom is there. Uncle Clyde and Uncle Jerry would hold her hand today and receive a hello. And they would silently say good-bye. Hospice shares that the hallucinations are normal. They connect to memories and hopes previously expressed. This gives a relative sense of peace. Michelle said last night that she is really sad. This breaks the present care-giver’s healthy heart.

Certainly those that have gone before her are going to be. Grandma. Grandad. Mom. Elvis. It’s another June. In the North, the Cascades and your Rockies connect. The music will be playing Michelle and you can be free. Not sad.

Sleep and I shall soothe you

Calm you and anoint you

Myrrh for your hot forehead

oh Then you’ll feel

Everything’s all right

Yes everything’s fine

And it’s cool and the ointment’s sweet

For the fire in your head and feet

Close your eyes

Close your eyes

And relax

Think of nothing tonight

[Everything’s All Right, Jesus Christ Superstar]

Put your hand in the hand of the man

Who stilled the water

Put your hand in the hand of the man

Who calmed the sea

Take a look at yourself

And you can look at others differently

Put your hand in the hand of the man

From Galilee  [Man from Galilee, Elvis]