Veterans’ Day

November 11th, 2014

(I would rather scoop out my eyes with a melonballer than attempt a follow up to the blog I posted previous to this one. )

 

My grandfather Alva Farmer Jr. was an Army veteran serving during the Korean Conflict. At his funeral, seven military men presented our family with an American flag and performed a 21-gun salute. I still have one of the empty discharges from the funeral. My grandfather was given the ultimate respect in death and for that I am thankful for the solemn duty that our military perform, active and retired. They take the funeral procession seriously. I felt an immense sense of pride as I sat there in front of my grandfather’s final resting place.

 

That was six weeks ago.

 

I have not been back to the gravesite since that day. I have struggled with my emotions a lot since then. I will go Tuesday to see his resting place. There will be some grass over the plot, hopefully. It has been a rainy fall. My grandfather died on a beautiful warm September day. It wasn’t fair to look at him and see him in his final days and then look out the window of his hospital room and see how beautiful and sunny the world looked. He turned himself away from the window.

 

It’s a selfish thought but I keep having it: I need him to be here more than he needs to be gone. Which is wrong, 100 percent. Everybody has their time and Alva Farmer Jr’s time was September 27th or 28th, on or around midnight. He had been in the hospital for thirty-six straight days, battling a variety of ailments. He went in for a successful operation, was released after a week only to return that same night never to leave again. In that time, he battled intestinal infection, a failing liver and kidneys.

 

One thing I learned was that when I first went to see him in the hospital, I would sort-of peek into the other rooms as I walked to his room. Then I would see him in his condition and I never did that again. The gravity of the situation was so much that I smartened up. Even though the doors were wide open, looking felt intrusive.

 

How many times I had to put on scrubs and gloves before entering his room. How many times I had to fight to not visibly bawl in front of him. How many times I expected to get “the call”. How easy it was to take “the call” when I got it. Mom called me in the middle of the night, waking me out of a good sleep. My mom and aunt kept a bedside vigil for the last few weeks. My grandfather’s two daughters. No sons. I am the oldest male Farmer. I am thirty-six.

 

I have to talk about the last days. But I also have to talk about as many days as I can before that I remember. He got my car ready for California in 2001 by having the catalytic converters taken out, which meant they would not pass an California emissions test. (this is where the smiley face emoticon goes). He took me and my cousin George four-wheeling so many times when we were little kids. George liked muddin’, me not so much. We would have to check ourselves for turkey lice, chiggers and ticks. I had a few, George always had more.

 

2013 Fordsville Days. We watched the country band play on the bandstand across the field from our house. In the past we hated that bandstand, but it was nice this time. It reminded me of old times, when he would take me to Rosine when he wanted to watch bluegrass bands. He had his oxygen tank. There’s still a warning sticker on the front door warning “NO SMOKING, OXYGEN!” but all the oxygen equipment is gone. His bed and comfy chair have been moved out. My house is emptier.

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I find it easy to cry these days. My grandfather rarely did. One time was when my mom got married in May. That was a special occasion, naturally. Everybody cried except me. I thought they cried because they were happy, and sure they were. But I’ve been to a wedding since then and now realize tears come for a lot of reasons. Here is my grandfather the day of my mom’s wedding. I have better pictures of him but I’ll be damned if I’m sharing them with you. He wasn’t expecting the camera when this picture was taken. Looking back, that day might have been his last good day on Earth. From then on, he fought the good fight and scraped every bit of happiness out of life he could but the fight took a lot out of him.

 

I truly believe he never wasted a day of his life.

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