Memories are funny things. Ask any American who was alive at the time and they can probably tell you just where they were when they heard that President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas or exactly what they were doing when they learned about the 9/11 Tragedy.
But how many of you can remember the exact circumstances of where you were and what you were doing when you learned Jerry Garcia died?
That particular memory was jogged for me this morning as I was reading in the newspaper about the Grateful Dead’s Final Farewell Tour. You know, I’ve always liked the Grateful Dead’s music, but I am by no means a Deadhead. During the years when they were at the height of their popularity and Jerry Garcia was still around, I was busy with the everyday stuff of life: getting married, working, having and raising kids and trying, often unsuccessfully, to act like an adult. In other words, I was moving along in my life as many people do and I just didn’t have the time.
But I remember the day Jerry Garcia died better than many days that have far more personal significance in my life. And that’s because the night of the day that he died, Greg, Carrie, Evan and I slept in a caboose. Yes, the four of us spent a night in a caboose at the Caboose Motel in Avoca, New York on our way home to Massachusetts from our annual trip to Ohio AND, I must say, it was darn cool.
We enjoyed it thoroughly.
The next morning while eating breakfast at a nearby diner, I spied the newspaper with the headlines announcing that Garcia was dead and the Dead’s song Casey Jones popped into my head – “Driving that train, high on cocaine…” The night I had just spent in the train and Garcia’s death managed to stick together in my memory and to this day, nearly 20 years later, the association lives on in my mind. Mention Jerry Garcia and if I close my eyes, I can see the insides of that train car, the way it felt to sleep somewhere so unusual and the way the kid looked and acted. Carrie had just turned 11 and Evan was soon to turn 9. They were so cute. Those are the little mundane things that are really important to me when all is said and done – those ghosts of happy memories.
On an everyday basis, I don’t have and never have had a good capacity to retain memories. These days, like a lot of people my age, I walk into a room and wonder what the heck I am doing there. If I don’t always put my phone in the same place, there’s a pretty good chance I will spend a lot of time searching and searching and searching. I don’t always remember people’s names after I’ve met them – sadly, even after I’ve met them a number of times and truly like them.
But I bet that till the day I die, I will remember where I was on the day that Jerry Garcia died.
Here are a few pics I just remembered: