Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Day My Mom Cried

I think when you're a kid, you rarely see your mom or dad cry. Sure you'd see them laugh at your silly jokes. You'd see them all excited Christmas morning watching you open gifts from Santa. You'd see them angry after you dropped an ice cream cone on the rug. But crying? That hits you really hard. It's then that you realize something is very wrong. It scares you and makes you feel helpless and the image may stay with you for quite a while.

When I was eight, all of my relatives were alive and well. At that point, I had never been to a funeral and thankfully everyone was fairly healthy and stable. There were no horrible accidents and not much sadness to speak of from what I remember. My folks rarely fought in front of us. They only yelled at us kids, not each other. Everyone was upbeat most of the time. I had never seen my parents cry. I guess we were lucky.

It was almost three weeks before Christmas when it happened and for some reason I'll always remember it.

John Lennon was shot on the evening of December 8, 1980. I don't think we found out until the morning of the 9th. If that was the case, it was a Tuesday. I remember hearing it on the old clock radio near my parents' bed while we were getting ready for school. I think at this point in my life, it was one of the worst news stories I had ever heard. It was a year before Ronald Reagan was shot and six years before the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded killing teacher Christa McAuliffe.

Eerie photo of Yoko & John in front of the Dakota in 1980 taken by Allan Tannenbaum.

I was never a serious John Lennon or Beatles fan, but my mom was. She had tickets to see them but her folks wouldn't let her go. They were really strict, old-school parents. She had all of their albums. Other than The Beatles, my mom wasn't a big music fan from what I remember. Sure, she liked music, but she wasn't fanatical about any particular group or celeb the way I was.

To this day, she'll say something like, "I really like that song they keep playing, by that guy... he sings about being 15 and having 100 years to live." She loves the iPod I gave her filled with hits from the '60s through the early '90s. She just wasn't someone who had an extensive record collection or talked about how hot Robert Plant was - the way my mother-in-law does. But Mom just really loved the Beatles. I remember when I was small and looking through all of her Beatles albums -- the sleeves and covers were literally falling apart from being handled and played so often.

The news of John Lennon's murder was such a shock to me at that age. Of course I realize today kids deal with a lot more devastation than the murder of a legendary musical icon. From 9/11 to Katrina to the war in Iraq we'll be fighting forever it seems like.

There's just something about witnessing or hearing about an assassination that knocks the wind out of you. I can't explain it and maybe I'm alone in feeling that way. I mean, bad news is bad news, I know. Our parents had the shock of Martin Luther King and two Kennedy assassinations. With an assassination, the person didn't have a chance. It wasn't like some gun-toting loon knocked on their door and they chose to answer it. These are people who were just trying to get home or waving to fans or getting into their limo. They were totally unaware.

Mom cried that morning. I think she even stayed home from her teaching job that day. Something she never did. She cried over "the senseless death of the most peaceful man" I believe she called it. I cried because Mom cried. I cried because someone hurt someone so badly that it made my mom cry. I couldn't believe a man was shot with a gun for no real reason. Little did I know, people are shot down every day for no real reason. But whatever, I just remember that morning as the very first time I saw my mother cry. As we near the 29th anniversary of John Lennon's death, I wonder if my mom will remember that day the same way I remember it.

Thanks for listening.

Yoko & John leaving the Dakota, so depressing if you think about it now.


RainyDaySaver said...

I wasn't old enough to remember my parents' reaction to the news (although neither one of them were really big Beatles fans). But I have to share my birthday with John Lennon's death day. Bummer.

plainolebob said...

Ally, hi there girl, my what a lovely post. we all react to those situations differently and your mom was right. I remember when Kennedy was shot, yeah I know I am an old man, old hippie too.
So, any way I saw you post on the thread in the coffee shop.
Always remember, we ALL want to be read, and we All want to know we are read. You write much better than I do.
I have been blogging since august, i have three sites now, why, I don't know. Come by, get my email, and I'll give you some proven tips.
See you soon.

B.J. Thompson said...

I guess we all see the world through our own eyes, don't we?

I don't mean to belittle your childhood experience as seeing uncertainty in our parents' eyes for the first time IS a devastating experience...

But Lennon's death was not a really important event in the grand scheme of things, and using the word assassination for a musician seems to lower the rarefied position that word holds.

John, I'm afraid, almost asked to be done in years and years earlier as he never knew when to shut up and just sing, a common ego fallacy to which many celebrities fall prey. That just because they can sing a song, we, then all of a sudden, should listen to their political approach on Life as well.

Do not put John on a pedestal he does not deserve Ally, and take a page from Elvis Presley's book.

When asked of his opinion on anything NOT related to music, he would always be the wise gentleman and say, "I'm just a musician, so I'll keep my opinions to myself."

Now there was a smart man, Ally!

What was mourned that cold night in New York was NOT the man himself but the lifestyle he represented to millions of Hippie's and Hippie wannabes from a long passed generation. They were mourning the fantasy of the Peace & Love Generation which, by the way, John was far too rich to ever be apart.

John started out fighting, it seemed, for the working class, when he and Paul started up their band in Liverpool and ended up being a huge, rich hypocrite to that class.

Ally, I am NOT dissing your great post nor your very valid childhood experience but I am questioning the experience your Mother had that surpassed that of just a music fan.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated; John Lennon was just killed, an ending we, who saw him evolve, all knew would be his fate sooner or later, thanks to his big mouth and his bigger ego.

Sorry to be the downer in the group, Ally. My apologies,

High Chief Mucky Muck of

Burb's Buck & Buntline Inn (B3)

2nd Official Tate-LaBianca Murders Blog (TLB2)


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