Back in 1969, my dad was getting ready to go to Vietnam. We’d had to move from the military base we were living at in North Syracuse, NY, to live with my grandmother in Kansas City, MO. We had moved before, of course, but this was going to be something different. My dad was going away for at least a year, or so we thought at the time, to a legitimate war, and none of us knew what was coming next.

Not even a week after my dad had left, it was a Sunday night, and, of all things, my grandmother had turned on the Ed Sullivan Show. I say it that way because we weren’t regular watchers of Ed Sullivan. However, what we were at the time were watchers of TV whenever we heard that black people were going to be on TV. It seems odd to think about in 2009, but back then, it was still a relatively rare occurrence. People in the community would hear something, and the phone calls would start.

So the TV was on, and the special musical guests were the Jackson Five. And out come these five brothers, the music starts playing, and I jumped off the couch in disbelief of what I was hearing. And then I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, which was this kid about my age as the lead singer. And the dancing; wow! I started dancing myself at that point, and I certainly wasn’t a dancer. My grandmother said I looked like Michael; I’m betting every black grandmother in the country who was with their grandson probably said the same thing.

My mindset changed. I had been depressed, couldn’t think of anything else, and now I was happy, joyous, feeling really good about things. I hadn’t stop missing my dad; I had just been able to change my mind and see that there were some positive things in the world, and felt that everything would work out just fine.

And it did. My dad came back home, we moved a few more times, and it seemed that every time there was going to be some kind of turmoil in my life, a Michael Jackson song of some kind was being released, and it always gave me pleasure and helped my thinking. You see, it’s hard to think, hard to produce when you’re depressed. When you feel good, good things have a better chance of happening.

I feel a great loss now. It’s not quite as bad as when my dad passed, but it’s close. Dad was someone I could always talk to; Michael Jackson was someone who always made me feel good when I needed it. I can still pull out the music, as I’m probably one of many people who has every album or CD he ever put out, and I can glory in that and enjoy my favorite songs. But I know there’s nothing new really to look forward to. Yeah, I know there’s an unreleased album that will probably come out within a month, but it’s not going to be the same. There won’t be any videos, or interviews, or anything like that. It’ll just be music, and if it ends up being successful, we’ll never really know if it was successful because it was truly good or if it’ll be successful because people just can’t get enough of Michael Jackson, no matter what it is.

Maybe it won’t matter. Maybe the point is that so many people have been touched in so many positive ways, that all we need in our lives is just to hear the music, hear the grunts and chirps and whatever else noises that are easily identifiable as him. Maybe that’s all the motivation we need to continue on. Hey, we survived Elvis, right?

The end of an era; Michael Jackson, rest in peace.