I wanted to teach Spense about the legend we’ve lost. I wanted my 4 year old to understand that sometimes, people touch the world in ways that change it for everyone.
I turned on Pandora and punched in “David Bowie.” Major Tom began to play.
“When I was in school, this song was very popular,” I said. Spense came over to the computer and sat on my lap. “This is a song about an astronaut.”
Spense seemed interested. I pointed to the small square on the screen, “and this is the singer. His name is David Bowie.” Should I have said was? His name was David Bowie? “I listened to his music a lot – mostly in high school and college. But his music is still all around. All the time.”
“Oh,” he said, starting to slide off my lap.
“He died today,” I said.
“WHAT?!?!” he said, reignited. “Today?!?”
“Yeah.” I had his attention again. “He wrote beautiful, poetic songs. He changed his looks a lot and wore dramatic costumes and wigs and make up. And here he is with an eye patch!” I scrolled through some photos on Google Images.
“WHAT?!?” he cried again. “And he died?”
“Yup. Here he is as an older man.”
“But when you were little he was alive?” he asked.
“Yup. Actually he’s been alive all this time, but he died today.”
“WHAT?!?” he screamed. “TODAY?”
That wasn’t supposed to be the amazing part.
The Pandora song changed. Queen.
“This is another great band I liked in college called Queen. It was my college boyfriend’s favorite band.” I told him. “And that’s a picture of Freddy Mercury.” I pointed to the new picture in the box.
“Is he dead too?” he asked.
“Uh, well yes, actually.”
We danced a little to Bohemian Rhapsody. The song changed. The Beatles.
“This is The Beatles. You know The Beatles. They sing Yellow-”
“Are they dead?” he asked.
“Uhhh, two of them are. But two aren’t.”
Next up on Pandora – Pink Floyd.
“Is he dead?”
Then Jimi Hendrix.
“Is he dead?”
After my informative (and slightly depressing) music history lesson and the 4 year old was sleeping, I felt strangely nostalgic for the late 1970’s. I wept a little for my tinted, frame-less glasses, my Pierrot collection, my dolphin shorts collection, my comforter with big yellow and orange poppies, my teal velour lined jewelry box that smelled like Easter candy, my eraser collection, my silver dollar collection… the simple days of no computers, cell phones or texting. Using a calendar. I ached for being a young girl in OP shirts just beginning to notice boys and waiting all week for the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys shows on Sunday nights. I could smell the chlorine and mildew in the YMCA women’s locker room. I felt the chalk and mats and beam from my gymnastics classes. I remember spending a good hour in a hot shower with my precious three step Vidal Shampoo set- shampoo, conditioner AND finishing rinse. I remember how I treasured my lemon Love’s Baby Soft body spray, with it’s chemically lemon sting. I remember stashing my Halloween pumpkin in my bedroom closet. I’d stick my nose in that big plastic pumpkin – the smell of the candy growing more and more plasticy through the weeks and how I savored each bite, trying to make it all last. I especially remember the snickers bars. And how sometimes I’d lick the bitter wrapper, by mistake.
I read a lot. I had a dollhouse. I had records. I made fake radio shows on a tape recorder, playing the DJ. I wasn’t allowed to drink soda, which I thought was unfair.
My dreams were big. My hopes were huge. My world was small. I was safe and secure. I was feeling and learning and scared, but also excited. It was good.
I want Spense to have this. I want him to have music that sends him back to good feelings. I want him to have a strong grasp on his childhood; to feel it to smell it, taste it, remember it. I want him to have some simplicity too. The world seems so big and so complicated. We are connected all the time. I remember staring out my window at the green leafy hedges, wondering what kind of plant it was, as spring brought apricot like bulbs and purple flowers with yellow corkscrew twisty stamens. What were they? No way to Google it back then. Do I give Spense enough time to stare out windows, uninterrupted?
I am missing my childhood so much right now. I miss my mom. I miss her so much.
Spense has been asking to go to my mom’s grave.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I want to dig her up and see her,” he said.
I tried to explain that it wouldn’t be like that. We’d just be looking at a marker with her name.
Before he fell asleep Spense said, “When we go visit Grandma’s grave can we also go see Davey Bowie?”
“Sure,” I said.
I wondered what he thought it was going to be like at the graves of these two legends…. I imagined that he was picturing the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland – with Major Tom playing loudly as translucent holograms dance around.
His world is magical. His own journey unfolding…