Monday, September 22, 2008

Walking in Memphis

Put on my blue suede shoes
And I boarded the plane
Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain
W.C. Handy -- won't you look down over me
Cause I got a first class ticket

But I'm as blue as a boy can be
Walking in Memphis
Walking with my feet ten feet off of the Beale
Walking in Memphis
Do I really feel the way I feel

Mark Cohn recorded Walking in Memphis. This song has always made me teary-eyed.

My mom grew up in Memphis and left when she went to college. She then married my father and they kept moving West. My mom had and still has a huge extended family in Memphis; I've been to Memphis more times than I can count.

Not long after Dave and I were married we went to visit my grandma there and my Uncle Irvin took us out on the town. My mom's older brother is a colorful character, a criminal attorney and the only of my mom's siblings who stayed in Memphis. That night was memorable. My uncle seemed to know everyone and we enjoyed Rendezvous' special dry rubbed ribs then went to BB King's place on Beale. Although the club was packed, we were shown into BB's private lounge above the stage, where we watched the blues quite comfortably.

My grandmother passed away in Eldest Daughter's second year and at the funeral someone asked me if I came to Memphis often. This question forced me to acknowledge that I'd visited five times in the previous eighteen months.

Memphis has a lot going for it. Mud Island has a half-mile riverwalk that's a tribute to and model of the Mississippi River. The Peabody Hotel has its famed Walk of the Ducks. Every day at 11a, five mallards are led by the Duckmaster down the elevator to the Italian travertine marble fountain in the Peabody Grand Lobby. A red carpet is unrolled and the ducks march through crowds of admiring spectators to the tune of John Philip Sousa's King Cotton March. The Memphis in May Festival features the Beale Street Musical Festival one week and the World Championship Barbecue Competition another week. The Elvis Presley Birthday Celebration is an annual four-day event. Oh yes, and we've done it all. I'm not sure why my mom ever left, actually. Memphis is one happening place.

I've been thinking about Memphis a lot this week.

My uncle Irvin was just diagnosed with lung cancer. I know a fair amount about lung cancer, thanks to the unfortunate situation of a close friend, whose brother-in-law, father and cousin are all fighting it. Wendy's brother-in-law spent part of last summer as the physician-in-residence at the summer camp Eldest Daughter attended.

Every three minutes another person is diagnosed with lung cancer. It kills more people every year than breast, prostate, colon, liver, melanoma and kidney cancers combined. For every dollar spent on lung cancer in the U.S., nine dollars is spent on breast cancer.

The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, the country’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to eradicating lung cancer. More information about the Foundation can be found on their web site:

And so another day ends and I watch the pinks sleep, counting my blessings.

1 comment:

Polka Dot Moon said...

I briefly got to visit Nashville a couple of years ago and would love to go back and see Memphis. As we flew in I remember looking out my window and seeing "green" for miles. Looked lovely!

I'm sorry to hear about your uncle. I will keep him in my prayers.