Saturday, February 28, 2015

100 Things I Want to Tell My Children and Grandchildren: #11

Roy Orbison worked for your grandfather.

On some indistinct night around 2003, while my 95-year old mother and my husband sat patiently waiting in our living room as I channel surfed for something that could entertain two people whose tastes in TV rarely intersected, I came across a movie featuring live performances by Roy Orbison and a host of other musical giants. That movie, originally filmed in 1988, was Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night, and featured Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and others.

Hearing Orbison croon “Dream Baby,” “Only The Lonely,” and other iconic tunes brought back a flood of memories for me, one of which was a very vague memory of Orbison playing at a dance in my little hometown (Iraan, TX), which is geographically situated very close to the little town in which Orbison grew up (Wink, TX).

In between songs I mentioned this memory, and mother, who at the time could hear little and had recently lost her ability to speak due to a stroke, said, out of the blue, clearly and distinctly “He used to work for your daddy. He was a pretty good hand.”

“Roy Orbison worked for daddy?” I blurted, as shocked to hear my mother speak as I was by what she said! But her eyes had already returned to the thousand-yard stare sometimes common to stroke victims, and the tiny window of connection was gone. And although mom eventually regained some of her ability to speak, I was never able to get her to remember or say anything more about Orbison and his stint working for my dad.

Since Orbison’s history confirms that he worked in the oilfields of West Texas, and played lots of local dances, I believe that mom’s memory and mine are probably true.

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