Memorial service closes ‘circle’ for mourners
“Moms dropping kids — there aren’t any phrases for it.”
The one that expressed that sentiment throughout the memorial service Sunday morning for Lisa Marie Presley, the one baby of Elvis and Priscilla, was Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.
Ferguson, 63, is aware of one thing about tragedy and fame and royalty (literal and in any other case) and members of the family whose deaths are mourned around the globe.
Ferguson is the previous spouse of Prince Andrew, who’s the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, the monarch who died Sept. 8 on the age of 96.
She was the sister-in-law of Diana Spencer, Princess Diana, who was killed at age 36 in a automotive accident in Paris whereas fleeing the paparazzi.
Sunday, she was in Memphis to mourn her buddy Lisa Marie (“We referred to as one another Sissy”). When she talked about “my mother-in-law,” she was talking of one of many uncommon folks of the twentieth century whose fame maybe rivaled that of Elvis.
“My late mother-in-law used to say… ‘Grief is the value of affection,'” Ferguson mentioned. “And the way proper she was.”
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Name it a public funeral or a memorial service or “A Celebration of the Lifetime of Lisa Marie Presley” (that is how the occasion was recognized on the duvet of the four-page program that was handed out by the hundreds to the mourning followers who crowded the rain-soaked north garden of Graceland). Underneath no matter title, the theme that was repeated many times on Sunday was that the passing of Lisa Marie at 54 on Jan. 12 of an obvious cardiac arrest in California represented, to a sure extent, the closing of a “full circle,” just like the circle of graves across the fountain within the Meditation Backyard at Graceland — a circle that now consists of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll on its south facet and his “little princess,” Lisa Marie Presley, on its north.
Earlier than Priscilla, Lisa Marie was a mom who misplaced a toddler: Her tomb within the backyard is situated subsequent to an identical monument for her son, Benjamin Storm Presley Keough, 27, who died by suicide in 2020. Lisa Marie was interred there earlier within the weekend; on Sunday, the gravesite turned a public area, visited first by the estimated 5,000 who attended the memorial service after which by others, when Graceland excursions resumed at midday, about 90 minutes after the top of the 9 a.m. service.
The service was book-ended by gospel numbers, together with “How Nice Thou Artwork” and “Candy, Candy Spirit,” carried out by the Blackwood Brothers. The combo’s chief, Billy Blackwood, is the son of the late James Blackwood, a founding member of the group, which Elvis referred to as his favourite gospel quartet. (Between the gospel performances, Billy Corgan, taking part in an acoustic guitar, sang the Smashing Pumpkins’ “To Sheila,” with its refrain “You make me actual”; Axl Rose sat at a piano and carried out the Weapons N’ Roses hit “November Rain”; and Alanis Morissette, accompanied by a pianist, sang her tune “Relaxation,” which asks: “Can we reduce this girl some slack? Let her lie down.”)
Blackwood mentioned his late father sang at Elvis’ funeral (Elvis died at 42 in 1977) and Elvis’ mom’s funeral (Gladys Presley — one other mom who misplaced a toddler, Elvis’ stillborn twin, Jesse — died at 46 in 1958). “So that is form of full circle,” he mentioned, combating tears.
Jerry Schilling, 80, a longtime buddy of Elvis and, later, of Priscilla, and a lifetime buddy of Lisa Marie, expressed the same thought. “I used to be within the hospital together with her father when Priscilla was giving delivery,” he mentioned. “I used to be on the hospital together with her mom when she left us.”
He mentioned he by no means had held a child earlier than Elvis invited him to carry the toddler Lisa Marie, whereas they have been within the kitchen at Graceland. If he wasn’t precisely a guardian who had misplaced a toddler, he was shut. “I at all times referred to as Lisa ‘Memphis,'” he mentioned. “She had that perspective.”
Schilling and about 100 different members of the family and pals — Priscilla Presley; Lisa Marie’s kids, actress Riley Keough, and the 14-year-old twins, Harper and Finley; former husband Danny Keough; Baz Luhrmann and Austin Butler, the director and star of the film, “Elvis”; Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Congressman Steve Cohen, amongst others — have been seated underneath a tent that confronted the mansion, in entrance of a dais that held a clear lectern embossed with the Graceland emblem, a grand piano, some flowers, and a pair of enormous coloration portraits of Lisa Marie.
Risers internet hosting dozens of media members — from England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, The New York Occasions, NBC, CBS, Fox and so forth — stood behind the mourners. The damp air saved everyone shivering, as if the temperature was within the 30s, not the low 40s. Twice throughout the service a thin, stray canine scurried forwards and backwards in entrance of the mansion, as if to remind the Hollywood and royal guests of the Presley household’s rural roots.
The general public, in the meantime, was massed collectively to the left of the mourners, standing in deep rows underneath naked timber and grey skies, alongside one of many winding driveways used most frequently by the Graceland tour buses. After the service, the followers, just like the dignitaries, have been in a position to go to the Meditation Backyard. They positioned flowers in entrance of Lisa Marie’s tomb (alongside a big bouquet of white roses that had seen despatched by Oprah Winfrey), and admired elaborate floral tributes from Sweden, Finland, Japan and elsewhere, a few of which had been mailed merely to “Lisa Marie Presley, Graceland, Memphis.” (In the beginning of the service, Joel Weinshanker, majority proprietor of Elvis Presley Enterprises, described Graceland as “the ceaselessly residence of Lisa Marie Presley.”)
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Though the followers didn’t know Lisa Marie personally, their ideas echoed these of the dignitaries. Many mentioned they felt as if a member of the family had died.
“Lisa Marie was his flesh and blood,” mentioned Julie Anderson Roy, 50, of Bradley, Illinois. “To lose her, we’ve lastly misplaced Elvis.”
She mentioned she felt that loss from a number of views. “It simply breaks my coronary heart for Priscilla to must bury her baby. It breaks my coronary heart for the twins, as a result of I’m the mom of twins.”
Eula Webb, 88, of Marianna, Arkansas, met Elvis briefly in 1955. She noticed him in live performance in Hawaii and Las Vegas, and he or she got here to Memphis the day after Elvis’ Aug. 16, 1977, demise, to affix the chaotic grief-stricken throng on Elvis Presley Boulevard.
“It was very unhappy, it was loopy, it was pitiful,” she mentioned. “You needed to maintain your thoughts occurring why you have been there, to recollect Elvis, and never get caught within the craziness.”
Sunday’s occasion was hardly loopy but it surely was inevitably, unhappy, regardless of what Weinshanker mentioned was Lisa Marie’s No. 1 want for her funeral: “Do not make it unhappy.”
When Webb heard Lisa Marie had died, “I cried and I cried and I cried.” However attending the service offered some solace, she mentioned.
Others agreed. Mentioned Roy: “For me, it is a means of honoring her father, and honoring her.”
This text initially appeared on Memphis Business Attraction: Lisa Marie Presley: Memorial service closes ‘circle’ for mourners