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Do You Remember …

POSTED July 14, 2009 4:42 p.m.
It is a day I will not soon forget.
Thursday, June 25 started out for me just like every other Thursday. Shuttling my kids to their grandmother, grabbing lunch and settling myself in, to finish as much of the Living Section as possible. Checking e-mail and voicemail are always first on my list of things to do, before diving in to my actual writing work.
Turning to the Internet I quickly learned of the death of Farrah Fawcett. While it was expected, the shock was still overwhelming. I had recently watched her documentary, which shared the struggles she encountered while battling cancer. Turning on cameras to document her battle with cancer will be just one of the many positive things this celebrity did with her life.
Recovering from the shock, I returned to my desktop and started plugging away. Life and work, for that matter go on and so must we.
Just shortly past 2:00 p.m. I heard the words float from an obscure corner of our office, “Michael Jackson died.”
Shock and disbelief, not to mention confusion quickly took me from my keyboard and looking to the faces of my co-workers. As we speculated and searched the web random thoughts of what might have happened filled our office.
Once confirmation was finally made, slowly the majority of us returned to work, while others continued to linger and discuss the tragedy of this celebrity passing.
It’s been a while since I’ve spun some MJ vinyl or pressed play on my cassette recorder, for that matter, but much to my surprise this celebrity passing affected me.
As the news of his passing filled the radio and television airwaves, my husband and I began a trip down memory lane. I was raised on Motown Music and the music of the Jackson 5 is a large part of my childhood soundtrack.
I’ve always thought of life as a slow written chapter book, but it was not until the passing of this celebrity that I realized my chapter book actually has an accompanying soundtrack.
Music, singing and dancing have always been a part of my life. Granted much of this is done in the privacy of our home or over a few cocktails with some friends or family and a little Karaoke. Nonetheless it is a piece of our family fabric.
As we listened to the songs of this artist played back from yesteryear, we swung our children in joy and celebrated this music, which meant so much to us.
As we went down ‘80s memory lane, it surprised me that my husband (a Wyoming native) appreciated this artist in his youth as much as I did. That’s when I realized that the reports of Michael Jackson’s music not having boundaries and touching many, was absolutely true.
There are many levels of this story — his story — which are sad and even complicated, but when you strip all that away and just concentrate on the music, there is no denying this man’s talent.
His lyrics were pure, his voice undeniable and his dance moves inspiring. Yes, to fans he was more than an entertainer. He was a humanitarian, a giver and a musical genius.
Sure he was eccentric, often misunderstood and a bit tortured, but aren’t all icons in some way or another?
Fortunately and unfortunately it was not until his passing, that I realized how much of my early life’s soundtrack is filled with his music. Dancing to “Billie Jean” at school dances, choreographing cheer routines to “P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing),” and watching my television in awe as all my favorite artists gathered to sing “We Are The World.”
Regardless of what cynics and critics may say, I will always be grateful that I lived during the time of this artist. And also thankful for this reintroduction to Michael Jackson and his music.
I always loved listening to my mom’s favorite music with her when I was a child. Singing along to the Jackson 5, Earth Wind and Fire, Chaka Kahn and Diana Ross in my mom’s 1967 VW Beetle holds some of my fondest memories. I now look forward to passing that same gift along to my children.

Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at thammond@oakdaleleader.com or by calling 847-3021.

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