Moving back to my small hometown was a huge adjustment. I had been living larger than life in Savannah with plenty of money and time to myself. It had become a place of refuge for me and I knew that leaving and moving back would be hard.
The place I grew up is a rural farming community. It's full of fields, farmers, and friendly folk who love to hunt and fish. I hunted when I was younger, but gave it up at the age of 15 after killing a doe one day when the older hunters were having a doe-day and everyone was supposed to kill a doe for population control purposes. She was a small deer and the guilt of taking her life overwhelmed me and made me sick with anger at the heartlessness of the men I once looked up to. I changed that day...I never went hunting again with my father and brother and the rest of the men of the community. It was about this time that I was beginning to shine in sports anyway and I decided to concentrate on being a great athlete and trained year round.
The farm looked the same as always when I arrived. Dry fields and lots of woods...a tractor in an old barn in the back that, ironically enough, my father and brother and myself had built out of railroad ties. The railroad ties have a lifetime expectancy of 500 years and will be here when my children's children have children and longer.
My father looked pale and had aged alot since I last saw him. My mother looked so haggard and tired...I knew that I had come when she needed me most. She was so happy to see me...it was like the cavalry had arrived.
I certainly didn't feel like the cavalry, but knew that I was young and strong and could handle just about any physical effort that would be needed. My father still weighed over 350lbs. and had to be manually moved from the bed to his air chair whenever he wanted to get up. The hardest part was his colostomy, which, on occasion, would fill up and overspill if his stomach got upset. I realized very quickly the job I was facing and longed to jump back in my car and haul ass back to Savannah, but I knew I couldn't...they were my parents...they had raised me, fed me, and taught me everything I knew about life. How could I NOT be there for them when they needed me most? My brother lived in a huge home not far from them, but he had re-married and had a new wife who kept him busy with a honey-do list. My sister was a psychologist married to a psychologist and didn't get along too well with my mother, so she stayed in her mansion and visited briefly when she did visit. My mother claimed I was the only one who gave a damn...though I knew my siblings did love them. I always felt a little bad for them because my mother made me into some kind of super-hero who did everything right and could do no wrong in her eyes...which was wayyyyy off base, believe me.
The move back changed my life completely. The culture shock of moving back to a town that didn't have the same modern conveniences of larger town was the first thing that hit me. I would miss always having somewhere to go and a new restaurant to try. I would miss always having a party to go to if I felt like it. I would miss my friends on Riverstreet and hanging out watching the ships roll in.
The sky did seem to be larger and the stars much brighter in the country and Blue loved being in the great outdoors. It was much quieter as well.
Life slowed down to a snail's pace and I took a deep breath of the fresh country air and thanked God that I could be there for my parents in their time of need. It was a good feeling.
My mother had begun to have fainting spells and when she finally went to the doctor for testing, she came back quiet and would refuse to talk about it. It made me worry about what she wouldn't tell us. It made me know that something bad was wrong. I knew it in my heart...
Taking care of one person is tough, but two people who are overweight and having to be moved manually is a tough job indeed. I would also have to get up in the middle of the night to help get medicine for my father if he was in pain or help clean up another colostomy mess...the worst thing you can have to do at 3 in the morning.
I went into Real Estate and started selling properies. It was something I enjoyed, though the money was not as lucrative as I was used to. I also had the freedom to come and go as I pleased and could help Smokey, our fieldhand, get crops planted in the manner that my father wanted. My father had always been a 'hardass' about his crops and how they should be done. We went through about 7 or 8 fieldhands after the accident because of this. Smokey was, and still is, the only one that has lasted.
My children have always loved the farm and enjoyed being able to spend more time with their grandparents. They would run through the fields barefoot...something I loved when I was a child...and I loved being able to share my childhood stories on the farm with them. They would never get tired of the funny stories and the adventures I had as a child. They would get me to tell some of the stories over and over again.
I had gone from being a playboy in Savannah with tons of money to the life of a farmhand once again. It was like a bad dream that I had to live. But I had always had a tenacity for the tough things in life. I could handle just about anything. I enjoyed being able to sit and just talk with my parents. My mother talked non-stop and loved having someone to complain to....she knew I cared as well. She told me many times she was so tired....she had seen the man she loved cut in half...she was prisoner to taking care of him....she had lost 2 grandchildren, with the last one dying on a 4 wheeler on the farm and her having to walk across the field with his brother to pull it off of his dead 8 year old body. She talked about Ryan alot....she never got over his death....he was such a beautiful child and so full of life...we called him Ryan the Lion. She had simply had too much heartache to bear in the last 10 years....she told me she was tired of this life and ready for God to take her. The lupus always had made her tired before, but now she was never rested and felt more tired than most people could ever imagine. I was proud to be there for her once again...and knew this would be for the last time.
We found out in 2007 that she had a brain tumor. She knew for many months even before the testing that something was terribly wrong....and so did I. The doctors said they needed to operate as soon as possible.
I knew the night before she left for the operation that she would not be coming home. I remember calling my ex-wife and demanding she bring the kids over to see their Nana. She thought my mother would be ok, but I told her I knew otherwise...I had a dream the night before and in the dream my kids were crying uncontrollably and I could not get my arms around all three. They came that night and we took pictures of them and their Nana. I fought back the tears and tried to be strong. I knew she would not be coming back...
She had an aneurism during the operation. She went into a coma and the doctors said there was no hope of reviving her. Her living will stated that she would be cut loose from the machine keeping her alive. I was at the farm taking care of my father...something she had made me promise I would do before she left for the operation, when my sister called to tell me I needed to drive to Columbia, SC to be there when she was unplugged. They would wait till I got there. I remember sitting in the car for what seemed like forever....feeling like the grim reaper knowing that my mother would die when I got there. I walked as slowly as possible to the room...filled with her 5 sisters, her brother, and all the grandchildren...everyone crying and sad beyond compare.
Everyone gathered around the bed when they pulled the plug. One by one everyone said goodbye. She gasped for air for several minutes and then a glowing smile came over her face out of nowhere like she had seen someone she knew and loved...and then she passed away. In my heart, I know she saw Ryan waiting for her with his hand out...or at least that's exactly what it looked like. Everyone cried and sobbed....but for some reason I could not. I knew she was finally getting her rest.....and her body would not be tired anymore....and she was with loved ones who had gone before her. I was truly happy for her...
Stay tuned...this will be in more parts than III, part IV coming soon...