Posts Tagged ‘family’

It’s Times Likes Right Now

May 28th, 2017

Memorial Day Eve, 2017.

 

My grandfather was a veteran of the Korean Conflict. Thankfully he did not see time on the battlefield or else I would not be writing this. So the proper day to honor my grandfather will be Veterans’ Day in November.

 

Or after snapping at a family member, because it is times like this that I miss him.

 

Oh Grandpa,

 

It’s been nearly three years since you passed. The further I get away from your passing the more I understand why I miss you. We got along pretty well for the most part, you and me. We understood each other.

 

We had a few flareups but it was never as frequent as it is with the rest of them. Is it me? Of course it is. Why is it that I got along way better with you than I do with them? Why did we have an understanding that I don’t have anywhere else?

 

I am bewildered now. You were my support system. I’m trying to put another one together but it’s difficult.

 

I love you and I miss you. I understand now. I’m sorry. I don’t know how you did it for so long.

 

Mike

Ah, To Be Alone

May 14th, 2017

This afternoon, my mother took my granny to a family outing. This being Mother’s day and all, four generations of Farmer moms were in attendance. My granny, my mom and aunt, my aunt’s children, two of whom have kids of their own.

 

I did not go. Oh no no no no. I wanted to be alone today. I wished my mother well and saw them off. They’ve been gone for about five hours which is the longest piece of alone time I’ve had in this apartment since my granny moved in about eight weeks ago. I am treasuring it.

 

This has been an inconvenience for both of us. Sometime next week, she will sign a new lease for her senior living apartment and begin to move out. Then I will be alone again. And I will enjoy that for the most part. Because I want to be alone.

 

It has not been an entirely negative living arrangement. She fusses over me like a grandmother does. She worries about me. She made hamburgers for me a few times. But the bad sometimes drowns out the good. And the bad is what I tend to dwell on.

 

I will never be happy.

March Emergencies

March 5th, 2017

What can I say?

 

It’s past one in the morning, Sunday the 5th. There’s some weird stuff going on at House Farmer, and some of it is not good.

 

My grandmother just celebrated her seventy-eighth birthday last month. She’s been in the hospital the last few days. She’s been touch and go with some internal bleeding issues. I would give you the medical diagnosis but I’d hate for you to google it. She’s been in and out of the ICU the last few days.

 

I’m a little bit scared.

Silver Wings Can’t Be Curdled

November 19th, 2016

I took a little time out of my weekend to go to a family event. My in-laws, that family. When my mom married my stepdad, she married into a very large family. The Farmers could fit into a passenger van with room with for more. The stepdad’s family needs a giant hall to accommodate everyone. They don’t get together all the time but when they do, they try to make it count.

 

My stepdad sang with the family band tonight. They put on a show and set up baskets for donations for an 8th grade class’s trip and a thing where you can give a canned good for the less fortunate. For the donation, you got some music something to eat, a nice feeling.

 

He walked up there and sang “Silver Wings” by Merle Haggard followed by “Ruby” by Kenny Rogers. It was a heart-warming feeling for me to watch somebody I love perform for a change. I felt like the proud papa for once because I knew what it was like to be up there. All the pre-show anxiety, that feeling when you stand up there in front of everybody and your mind just goes away. That moment when you have to deal with the microphone feedback and figure out how to hold it and where to stand and how close to stand to it when you sing. Been there a million times, fella.

 

 

I felt like a freak at first. Still have this long hair. This crazy long hair. I also can turn small talk into the McLaughlin Group if I’m not careful. You talking about Kentucky football? I’ll turn it into an indictment of the entire NCAA college-athlete system. I’ll point out how UK spends more money on Midnight Madness for men’s basketball then their annual football budget. Then I’ll segway into a rant about what it means to be a “student-athlete” when the labors of such are profited off by major networks, cable TV, advertisers and video game outlets. . . and by this time┬áthe person I’m talking to just wants to move along to another subject, another table, another planet.

 

You wanna talk about “Ruby” by Kenny Rogers? Great song, huh? You know that song is about a veteran who’s bed-ridden pleading with his wife not to go out on the town gallavanting with her face all painted up like some kind of tart. Think about how badly our veterans have been treated after they come back from their tours. Some of them are so shell-shocked they never completely get over it. Our V.A. hospitals are so understaffed it’s a crying shame. . . and by this time you just want to disappear because I got too real too fast I’m sorry.

 

I was beaming with pride and joy after my stepdad sang. Nothing could curdle this moment. At least not for another three songs because that’s when they started playing an Eagles song. And that, folks, was my cue to leave.

 

Apparently you can’t have an event with more than fifty white people in the same place without hearing an Eagles song. It must be a law somewhere. Everybody has a peaceful easy feeling except me, because I’m out the door.

Too Vague

May 26th, 2016

I had a lot on my mind this week but not everything on my mind ends up here. Otherwise this website would be updated hourly, at least daily. I try to have at least twenty-four thoughts a day. Most days I make it.

 

My bedroom closet is a mess, so I’ve spent about a half-day cleaning stuff out of it. I have more stuff than I have space to put the garbage in. No nearby dumpsters. It’s not garbage. Just old stuff. My past is in this closet. I’m not a fan of my past. Or maybe my past isn’t that bad compared to right now and I don’t want to think about that. Either way, I’m going to try to take out at least one or two garbage bags of closet stuff per week.

 

I have a rack of old clothes that could be given away to a nearby place. Bags and bags worth. I guess I saved them in case I lost weight. Forget it. Too optimistic right now. Optimism is a luxury, like getting a flu shot.

 

If your parents raised you right, you’ll grow up and understand that your parents weren’t and aren’t perfect. They did and do the best they can but have flaws and problems. That is what separates family from all those other people in your life that you write off because of one thing they do. Or one thing they believe that you cannot bring yourself to ignore.

 

Is this about my mom? Not so much. She did a phenomenal job considering she got no support from my birth father. This is about YOU being the adult for once.

 

There’s another reason why I wouldn’t want to be a parent and it’s been under my nose the whole time: that I would let my children down so often that they ceased to believe in me. I hate letting people down anyway, never mind potential offspring.

 

There’s so much more to say but not here. It involves other people and their business, and that would be not be fair to them. Moments when you need a friend to talk to, a shoulder to lean on.

 

But I end up being the shoulder. I’m always the shoulder in the end. One of you just be my damn shoulder for a little while. You know who you are.

It Takes So Little

January 14th, 2016

It takes so little to put me into a deep funk.

 

For Christmas I was gifted a Wal-Mart gift card for what I thought was $125. What I thought was $125. I thought it was $125.

 

I thought I had a gift card with $125 on it. From Wal-Mart. A gift card. With one-hundred and twenty five US dollars on it. That I could spend at Wal-Mart. Using the card. The gift card. The gift card I was given on Christmas. By my grandmother.

 

Now all of a sudden I can budget ahead for January. An extra $125 goes a long way in my world. I can get an oil change for my car. I’ve been needing one for a few weeks. I’m sure my oil is low. I’ll also be able to use the card for groceries. The gift card. The Wal-Mart gift card. It had $125 on it. An oil change is what, twenty dollars? I can go to the store and get groceries. I’ll have $105 or so left over. On the gift card. The Wal-Mart gift card. I got it for Christmas.

 

So I went and got the oil change. Which cost twenty bucks and change. That was last week. This week I went back to get some groceries. I got about $20 worth of stuff. Which would leave me with about $85 on the card. The Wal-Mart gift card that had $125 on it. You get the idea.

 

But nay! I swiped the gift card and the checkout counter man said “that will be $16 and. . .” blah blah. I owed him that. I owed him extra after I used the gift card. My $125 gift card that was going to get me through January.

 

He checked the balance on the card for me. Zero. Zero dollars. Zero sense. I owed him sixteen and change after the difference.

 

After I sorted all that out, I came home and tried to figure out where everything went wrong. I went online. I went to Wal-Mart’s website. I typed the card number in. It said zero dollars. I had spent the entirely of the card. All $25 on the card.

 

Why did I think it had $125 on it, then? I looked at the little envelope the card came in. The one my granny gave me and it said $125 on it. She wrote it down. My granny. My 77-year-old grandmother. My sweet, kind granny who gave me a $25 gift card. A $25 gift card.

 

A $25 gift card.

 

I have included an artist’s rendering of the envelope my granny wrote the amount down on. See if you can guess what happened.

giftcard

 

Granny tried to make a dollar sign with two strikes through the “S”. Two vertical lines through the “S”. You can draw a dollar sign with one vertical line or two. Either is common. But my granny. My nice, arthritic 77-year-old granny went wide right with the second strike and. . . I had a $25 gift card.

 

Now I know this sounds ungrateful on my part. But I’m not mad at Granny for messing that up. I’m mad at myself. I’m mad at my own dumb luck. You think you’ve got something figured out and you’ve planned it out accordingly. I’ve got this much to spend this month. Oh, I’ve got a little extra thanks to my $125 gift card. This will allow me to breathe easier in January before I finally move out. It’s supposed to be February. Maybe by Valentine’s Day. We were originally gonna get me moved out before Thanksgiving.

 

Nope. Just forget it. Forget everything you know. You didn’t have what you think you had, Mike. You got an oil change out of it. It’s fine. Really, it’s fine. Are you gonna let a misunderstanding and a difference of $100 get you in a funk today?

 

Yes.

 

It takes so little to put me in a funk. Every now and then I get a few feet away from a deep funk. Just when I get out, I get pulled back in. It doesn’t take a lot. It’s the big things. It’s the little things. It’s everything.

 

It’s everything.

Lessons On Life From My Uncles

November 26th, 2014

The holidays are always good for checking in with those relatives you don’t see all the time. I have so many uncles I can’t count them all (four).
My uncle Jeff was telling me a little bit about life a few years ago. What he said was:

“You’re born, then you get older, then you die, then your soul goes to Heaven or Hell after the War on Earth like it’s foretold in Revelations.”

Uncle Jeff was pretty heavy into his Bible. He’d been in and out of jail a few times until he sobered up for good and found Jesus. Now everybody has to hear the Gospel at social functions. Uncle Ron is a lot more fun to be around. He drinks more and prays less. One night after he gave his daughter away in marriage he came up to me half in the bag and told me something I’ll never forget.

 

Uncle Ron told me: “First you get born. Then they put you in school. Then you they give you a gun and tell you to go kill a bunch of Viet Cong and you go kill them Viet Congs. Then you come home and you stop killing Viet Congs but you keep smoking heroin. Then you sober up about twenty years later and somehow you got a wife and kids and a job driving trucks. Then you die.” Then he gave me a hug and went into the bushes to piss. Ronnie could be a sentimental, oversharing drunk but he was more fun than Uncle Jeff every time.

 

Uncle Zisek took me to a Kentucky game when I was fourteen. After the game, he stopped in a liquor store and got a 40 ouncer of Falls City for the ride home. He had me take a few pulls off of it and while we were riding along he said this to me: “Boy, there’s a few things you gotta know about life. First you die. Then you are reborn. Then you come out of your mother’s womb. Then you spend your life in eternal torment because you’ve been kicked out your mother’s womb which is the most serene feeling in the world. Then you die by your own hand.” The family doesn’t talk to Uncle Zisek anymore since he ended up on house arrest for possession of. . . you know what let’s talk about Uncle Harry.

 

Uncle Harry. What a life he led. Every time we saw him he had some new crazy story. One Christmas he pulled me aside, lit up a smoke and told me a story. “Kid, I want you to remember this. One day you’re born. The next, you’re selling $8,000 worth of bootleg Aerosmith shirts in the parking lot of their tour opener in Pensacola. The next day, you wake up to find the money’s gone, along with your girlfriend’s car and all of her belongings. Before you know it, the mob is breaking your fingers. Within a few years, you end up on the cover of a Cannibal Corpse album. That’s life and there aint a fucking thing you can do about it. Now let’s go eat some eat some cranberry!” I liked Uncle Harry but he passed away. Officially. Every December we get a Christmas card from “Hrothgar Von Whatley”, which is the most obvious made-up name of all time but I’m not saying anything.

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.

unnamed

 

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.

Sometimes Nice Things Happen

September 23rd, 2013

This weekend was exceptionally and unusually pleasant.

 

I want you to notice the word “unusually” in the above sentence. By that sentence, you may think that I am a glowering Gus. An Eeyore in sweatpants. I deserve that.

 

Joyful moments and pleasant days do not have to be the rarity, the anomaly in life. They really don’t have to be. I’ll share with you the two moments that really stand out.

 

Friday night in was in Nashville playing a show with the band. The band before us asked me if I wanted to sing “Black Diamond” by Kiss with them. That band is called Freebase Masons, and I think they play stoner metal. Without a moment of rehearsal, I went up and sang “Black Diamond” with them like I had been doing it my whole life.

 

Maybe I had in some way. How many times have I heard that song? Never really heard the words to it all the way. But I NAILED THAT SONG TO THE WALL. It was glorious. I always wanted to sing a Kiss song onstage with a band. Cross that one off the bucket list I don’t have.

 

The next day, Fordsville Days reared its’ head again. Another local fall festival. For years I have loathed Fordsville Days, mostly because I live in the middle of it and the bandstand is literally next door from where I live. I have complained for years and it has gotten me nowhere.

 

This year my grandfather sat on the porch and listen to an old-time band play country and bluegrass songs from the past. As the night air cooled everything down around us, I joined him on the porch. He sat in a lawn chair with his lady friend Wilda, I sat on the porch. It was like when I was a child and they took me to Rosine to watch bluegrass bands and they were in lawn chairs and I sat on a blanket on the ground. Twenty years before. The night cooled down and I rubbed my arms. Grandpa got tired and went in to take an ibuprofen. He has more aches and pains these days. He slept in that night, as it had been a long day for him.

 

I enjoyed those moments. This was me reliving my youth. You want to relive the days when you’re old enough to party but don’t feel it too bad the next day. I went beyond that. I went to my childhood for a moment.

 

I almost got sad that I couldn’t go back. Instead I feel really good that I had it again. If we had them all the time, they don’t get to be special.

That Would Have Been A Fight

June 12th, 2013

Just now I was standing at my kitchen sink when my grandpa walked behind me to fetch a cup of coffee. I bumped into him and nearly knocked him over. Thankfully, I turned around quickly and steadied him. I apologized and he excused me, because it was an obvious accident.

 

If my mom had been living with us and seen me do that, that would have started a horrible fight. I just have the feeling about it. Sometimes we get triggered by the strangest things. She’d yell at me to watch what I was doing. I would probably yell back because I don’t like being yelled at. Honestly, who does? And then it would escalate until we were no longer arguing about me bumping into my frail grandfather. Sadly, it wouldn’t take long to escalate.

 

I don’t miss the past. I don’t miss a lot of the circumstances of the past. Hair-trigger arguments in a tense atmosphere with a family member I “loved”? Who “loved” me? And yell at each other like we were strangers in traffic until one or both of us were in tears?

 

I was raised like an idiot. I learned how to live like a feral animal. An unloving, feral animal. I hated my mom for many years and I blamed her for so many things beyond her control. Would we be like that now? Who can tell? I’d be afraid to find out.