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On This Day in 1977 …

Elvis Aaron Presley passed away at the age of 42. He’s now been gone for as long as he lived.

Visiting Elvis’ homes in Tupelo and Memphis was an enlightening experience for me. I came to understand the man a great deal better than I had from just reading about him. I can’t really articulate it any better than this:

Imagine that you were so poor that your family recipes include ways to cook opossum (I have the cookbook …). Imagine that you only ever had oversized denim pants to wear and resented it. Then, imagine that you had more money than you’d imagined possible because of the gift of your voice … and that you could buy anything you wanted. That you’d never have to wear blue jeans again unless it was for a movie role (he didn’t). Imagine that all you wanted was to buy your mother a beautiful house so that she didn’t have to live in a shotgun shack with no running water or electricity (he did). Imagine that you could afford anything you wanted, without question.

Now, imagine that you wanted to help others who weren’t as financially privileged.

That high-level look at who Elvis was explained so much to me … including his quiet philanthropy. He gave a great deal of money to organizations that helped others, and didn’t want acknowledgment for it. He saw it as paying back the many people who helped his family when they had nothing.

Elvis was a great believer in the message of this song. I can think of no better tribute than to share it today.

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