Barbara L., 78, from Brookdale Westlake Hills in Austin, TX, was a teenager of the ‘50s. When Elvis came to fame in 1955, Barbara was in high school. She remembers having slumber parties with her friends and playing Elvis on the record player. In October 1956, Barbara and her best friend ventured out to the Houston Coliseum to see Elvis live in his black leather. About four months before Elvis died, Barbara took one of her sons to Elvis’ Austin concert. Ever since Elvis passed away, Barbara dreamed of visiting Graceland.
Barbara is not only a dedicated Elvis fan, but is also dedicated to her community. When Barbara’s kids were growing up, she served on various PTA boards and raised money for a band trip to Washington DC. Barbara enjoyed volunteering at her local church and with numerous civic groups. Because Barbara has no siblings, at an early age her church became an integral part of her life and served as her extended family. She served on the Ministry Council, the cooking team, and almost every church committee, and she is an ordained deacon. Although Barbara can no longer attend church due to her caregiving duties, she will listen to Elvis gospel on Sundays as her own personal Church service. Barbra was also a member of the Assistance League of Austin, and the Drive a Senior program where she was a board member for several years.
Elvis has inspired Barbara to not only volunteer in her community, but also care for her family. Barbara said “In addition to Elvis’ musical talent, I think he was a great person. I liked the way he cared for his mom and dad. He bought Graceland especially for them.” While Barbara spent countless hours volunteering, she was also caring for various ill family members. Barbara served as the primary caregiver for her mother, her Aunts, and her mother-in-law before they passed away. Barbara also spent years caring for her husband who is now suffering from various illnesses. She continues to make time for others, caring for her dear friend of 50 years who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale Senior Living were excited to send Barbara and her son, Jason, to Graceland to celebrate Barbara’s passion for Elvis on April 29, 2017. Barbara said “My face lights up when I hear Elvis. I can jingle and dance around! If I live to be 100, I’d still be excited every time I hear one of Elvis’ songs.” Not only did Barbara have the opportunity to visit Graceland, but also stayed at The Guest House at Graceland for the ultimate Elvis experience. Before attending the Graceland Elvis Entourage VIP tour and Airplanes tour, Barbara was able to tour Sun Studio, where Elvis recorded a few of his hits. Barbara said “I don’t feel like I am walking on the ground – I am skimming over it. The wish was absolutely fantastic.”
Photo credit: Photography by Adele