One man dies, but it is the death of a generation. That’s a pretty hefty legacy.
It’s funny, the twisty turns that affect us in the middle of a day, isn’t it? I’ve been staring at my computer screen for two weeks, waiting for the next brilliant words to tumble from my brain to the keyboard, but a circuit broke down somewhere. Half-thoughts, half-truths, half-assed. Then along comes a headline that knocks us back a little.
When I was a kid, and fortunate enough to have a rare weekend at my mom’s house, she made sure that time with my older brother and I was well spent. Shopping, dinner with the grandparents, Sunday morning omelettes that my stepdad stuffed seriously fat with anything we wanted. But Saturday mornings were hers.
After losing the battle to watch the Smurfs to my brother, I’d crawl, defeated, into bed and lay against Mom. She’d wrap her arms around me, excited as the horns started, Dick Clark smiling in the little set top box on top of the dresser. The volume went up, and there went any shot at breakfast for the next two hours. The woman loved her music.
My brother would eventually get bored with his superheroes and make his way into the bed too. Mom would talk about these bands with weird names like The Chordettes, The Coasters, The Marvellettes – and we made fun of them, but then there were songs we knew and liked. As American Bandstand came to a close, it was then time to get on board the Soul Train. Then the three of us would scurry to the kitchen to scramble for a bowl of Cheerios, with extra sugar dumped in ours when Mom turned her back on us, and we’d rush back to the bed for a half hour of Scooby Doo before the real start to the day.
Bandstand kept current with music, but sometimes a hot new act was one Mom knew about long before I did. I come from the generation that learned Twist & Shout from Ferris Bueller, not four mop-topped Brit boys. The Bee Gees were the hottest disco band that, who knew? were around singing before I was thought of. When this exotic lady with long legs and hair sprouting wildly came to the stage asking What’s Love Got To Do With It? in 1984, I was taken with her sexy moves and sultry voice. Next thing you know, Mom’s playing Ike & Tina on the turntable and dancing like a runaway train.
The thing with my mom was that she never took on that “old” mentality. All music was great, not just “back then.” It was an infectious enthusiasm that she instilled in me in our short years together. Much of my core values were little gifts she gave in between the birthdays, Easter baskets and Christmas stockings.
With a bright laugh, she pulled out Paul & Paula and sang along, telling me stories of boyfriends and square dances. Maybe because our time together was so rare, I actually listened without rolling my eyes or looking for the nearest getaway. My mother was fun, without trying to be. Somehow she managed to find the magic line of knowing when to be our friend, and when to take a door off its hinges because I slammed it in her face one time too many.
The day Marvin Gaye was shot, my mother cried. She was of the Elvis era when girls did that sort of thing. I imagine she’d have mourned the loss of Don Cornelius some months back, and I think today would have devastated her.
It seems my generation of 40somethings is the last to feel the loss of Dick Clark. When I told my 33 year old friend Josh in passing of the news, it was a faint blip on his radar. Understandably so,
Clark was just the guy on the New Years Eve show that talked funny. But even through the stroke, Dick showed up every year, his eager, tanned face smiling as young as it did more than fifty years ago.
And that was his talent, his sheer excitement at bringing music to
. Vicariously through Dick Clark, we all caught glimpses of a time when falling in love wasn’t something to be afraid of, people weren’t shot just for walking down the street, and we helped one another rather than tuned each other out. Maybe that’s an idealistic view of an endless summer, but that was the beach party Clark invited us to each week. America
I fear that with the loss of this cultural icon, the rapid free fall that our nation has seen will win.
I want this moment to remember Mr. Clark, and thank him for the time spent with Mom, my brother and me, even in the hospital rooms when she shooed the nurses away so she could be lost in two hours of a rare bliss. Saturday mornings were never the same after we lost her.. I suspect the world going forward from today won’t be either.
To everything there is a season; a time to be born, a time to die, a time to dance, a time to mourn. A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together…
© Kymberlie Ingalls,
April 18, 2012
Lyrics: Turn, Turn Turn (To Everything There Is A Season) / Pete Seeger
(adapted from The Holy Bible / Book Of Ecclesiastes