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John Wasendorf loves Elvis Presley. Much of his life has been tied to the King of Rock and Roll.
But even for Wasendorf, the coincidence was too much.
He was crossing into Iowa, his new sweetheart by his side. She was Heather Armstrong, a Mississippi native who had connected with Wasendorf on the Elvis Presley Facebook page.
As they drove into Iowa toward Wasendorf ’s Lone Tree home, a home they would share, Elvis’ velvety voice filled the car with the words of “Welcome to My World.”
Miracles, I guess
Still happen now and then
The fact that they ever met was a miracle in its own right.
It was Feb. 15, 2012, and after being pestered by his son multiple times to join the Elvis Presley Facebook page, Wasendorf finally relented.
“That same day I did it, I went on there and looked and she had a little post on there that said ‘I need someone to talk to,’” he said.
Knock and the door shall be open
Seek and you will find
Ask and you’ll be given
The key to this heart of mine
“I didn’t know who it was. There was a little cross, a picture. It could have been a 90-year old lady or a kid,” Wasendorf said. “So I just answered it to be nice. I thought, ‘Well maybe I can help this person in some way.’ That’s how it started.”
For the first 30 days after making contact, it was a one-sided conversation with John doing all the talking. Then slowly but surely, the pair hit it off.
After about 15 months of chatting, Wasendorf took a chance. He left to visit Heather for the first time in Tupelo, Miss. After spending four days together, the pair were sitting together in Wasendorf ’s car after just driving around, when Heather started crying.
She wanted to return to Lone Tree with Wasendorf.
“I asked her about 20, 30 times and she kept saying, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah I want to go,’” he said.
It was on that fateful trip that “Welcome to My World” came on as they crossed the border into Heather’s new home state and cemented the song as a personal favorite of hers.
Though perhaps the most stunning, it is not close to the only odd connection between The King and the Wasendorfs.
John’s own connection to the music of Elvis Presley began when he connected with the song, “You Gave Me a Mountain,” when he was 20.
Yeah but this time Lord you gave me a mountain,
A mountain I may never climb
It isn’t a hill any longer
You gave me a mountain this time
The song of struggle hit home with Wasendorf, whose parents had divorced when he was young and whose mother later attached herself to an abusive boyfriend. This caused Wasendorf to grow up faster than most to support his mother, both financially and physically, standing up to her abuser.
The final straw, the titular mountain, is his wife leaving him and taking their son with her, a narrative that struck very close to Wasendorf at this time in his life.
“I had a child that the mother took, and I never saw her again, and I’ve still never met her to this day,” Wasendorf said.
“Man, what happened at that moment is I bonded with that music man. I cried, and I felt this feeling racing through my body, and it was like I just connected with Elvis Presley and his music, and that’s where it really started.”
Wasendorf even had a son who was born during Elvis Week, held the week of Presley’s death, in ’92. At the time, Wasendorf worked weekends at Graceland, Elvis Presley’s mansion turned monument and Mecca for die-hard fans.
Wasendorf, who had his own window-washing business in Riverside at the time, gained national attention for the way he’d rock out while cleaning the windows of the famous tourist destination.
“They played this Elvis music all day, it’s piped in and you can hear it outside. Somehow I had a way where I was moving to the beat of the music, and they went nuts,” he said.
The fame he gained during his time at the mansion earned him fans of his own, some of whom sent him unique Elvis Presley items, like a fan in Texas who sent him an Elvis Presley pillow.
Heather has her own unique Elvis connections. She was born at the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, just a few miles from Elvis’ childhood home, and is actually a distant relative of Elvis, a seventh cousin to be exact.
The pair lived together for 10 months before eloping to Pigeon Forge, Tenn. to get married.
They weren’t married in a church. No, they were married in the Elvis Presley Museum officiated by an Elvis Presley performance artist, June 7, 2014.
The pair still live at Wasendorf ’s home in Lone Tree, and John just celebrated his 39th year in window washing last month, a career that has given him experiences most people could only dream up. As their relationship continues to grow and deepen, one thing’s for certain: Elvis Presley, and his unique connection to them, will always be on their mind.