When I first met Randy’s grandmother – Mimi to her grandchildren, Wanda Beth to everyone else – I was struck by how beautiful and young-looking she was. But pretty wasn’t all she was about. She was quick – both on her feet and with a joke – and she had a laugh that always made me smile.
I knew she loved Elvis – she was always singing along to him – but I didn’t hear her best Elvis story of all until I had known her for a few years.
It was a random afternoon, we were back home in Texas and she and I were looking through a closet of hers and chatting. I saw her pull out a piece of yellowed polyester material set with red, blue and turquoise stones. The cloth had not been cut very carefully but the beading was all intact. When I asked Mimi about the piece and where it came from, I never expected what came out of her mouth.
She was about 30 years old and in Las Vegas. She and friends were attending a dinner show with Elvis performing and of course, he had his Memphis Mafia surrounding the stage watching the crowd. While he was singing, Elvis picked her out of the crowd. He left the stage, singing a song, and walked up to Mimi and kissed her.
Did she fall a little more in love with Elvis? Of course. And I fell more in love with her as I pictured that young, pretty girl sitting in the audience.
She said she was wearing an all-white pantsuit with beading on the chest and around the collar like a necklace (yes, glitz & glam after my own heart) and she kept that outfit for as long as she could. It started aging and the white turned yellow so eventually she cut out the beaded section and threw away the rest of the outfit.
I was so excited by the story and wanted to help Mimi keep her memory of Elvis’ kiss intact. After looking at the piece, I realized we could turn it into a necklace for her. I had a seamstress cut it out carefully and add a tie in the back. The next time I visited, I presented it to her and knew she would be so excited. She loved it but she turned around and gave it right back to me. She wanted me to wear it and enjoy it.
I’m not sure if she realized how much I treasured that necklace. I don’t remember if I ever told her how many people stop me and comment when I wear it. And to every one of those people, I tell the Elvis-kiss story.
Mimi passed away almost a year ago and a couple of days after, I wore her necklace out while in San Francisco. As normal, someone stopped me and asked me about it. This time I couldn’t tell the story properly – I was too choked up. But I knew Mimi, and probably even Elvis too, were smiling down.