Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Goodbye, Randy -- Revisited

This was another of my old Facebook notes, from 2009.


I had wondered where he had been. I hadn’t seen his truck for several weeks. So, when I came over that last hill on my way to church this morning, I was happy to see his truck in its same old place. Then I noticed one of those big flower arrangements you only see at cemeteries. It had a big banner on it that simply said “Randy”. And I started to cry.

I’m not really sure why, either. I have only known Randy as ‘the Peanut Guy’ for a couple of years. I had seen his truck parked in the same place for years—on the side of Highway 25 in Rankin County, right before you get to 471. We started stopping by every other Sunday (after payday, when I was most likely to still have a little money on hand) to buy our lunch for that day – a large bag of boiled peanuts. It was a drive around type of thing, so we weren’t ever there very long, just long enough to say what size bag we wanted and to pay our $5.

But, I never failed to drive away feeling a little lighter somehow. In that minute or two, Randy found a way to smile, make eye contact, speak, remember trivial details, and otherwise make us feel special. As we drove off, he always said, “Hey, you have a good day now, you hear?”. There were many Sundays that I had more of a real connection with Randy than I had at church that day. Not to mention that his peanuts were hands down consistently the best boiled peanuts I ever had.

That was really all I knew about Randy, until today. It turns out that two of his brothers were the ones who had brought his old red pickup truck out one last time. By the time I saw it, several people had brought flowers and people were steadily stopping by to pay their respects. I pulled in with my boys, and was greeted by one of Randy’s brothers. He was giving everyone who stopped by one last bag of peanuts that they had boiled for Randy’s customers. He asked if we had a couple of minutes to look at a photo display that they had put together of Randy. We absolutely did.

What we saw was an amazing insight into a man I barely knew. I still don’t know his last name, but I did learn some new things:
--Randy served in the military (Vietnam?) and was an absolute cutie in uniform.
--His gorgeous sister died less than a year ago.
--His brother’s voice is almost identical to his.
--He was a big time music promoter and one picture showed him at an outdoor venue with over 100,000 attendees, where he was introducing Van Halen, and later Aerosmith. There were numerous pictures of him with Rock legends.
--He was asked to move to New York in the early 80’s to become a main player in a new experiment called ‘music television’, but was convinced that it would be the downfall of music as he knew it. Since he had more money than he would ever need, he quit the business and never looked back.
--He had been selling peanuts out of the back of his truck in the same place for 11 years. I don’t know why – it obviously wasn’t for the money. Apparently he just wanted to brighten people’s day.
--His life blessed many people. This was evidenced by the many tokens that people left today, and by the comments we heard in the few minutes were visited with his family - people from different walks/places/backgrounds – all somehow touched by this unassuming man.

Well, I drove home and poured my last bag of peanuts into a bowl and settled down on the couch to begin watching the Saints whup up on the Giants. And you know what? These peanuts, so generously boiled and given out by Randy’s family, were OK, but they in no way matched what Randy used to make every week. And, somehow, this just seemed fitting.

Goodbye, Randy. I’ll miss you (and your peanuts).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

16 (+3) Random Things

My favorite flowers ever

Back when I first started using Facebook, there was a 5 minute fad going around called '16 Random Things'.  The idea was that everyone would make a list on a Facebook Note (remember those?) of 16 random facts about themselves without putting a lot of thought or analysis into it.  I read back over my list several days ago, and it made me smile--some out of the simpleness of the things I listed, and some out of my naivete.  I know I liked the things I learned from other folks' lists back then, and figured I would copy my old list on here now (with updated commentary in purple).

1. My favorite flowers in the world are the little white garlic flowers that grow everywhere in Mississippi in the spring. Many uninformed consider them to be weeds, but they are wrong. I hate spider lilies and any flower that has been spray painted blue.

2. I was a vegan for 7 years. I am still a vegetarian and do not eat white flour or white sugar. It is a health thing, not a hippie thing. Now we eat organic/free range meat and eggs.
3. Speaking of hippies, I generally feel much more welcome at Rainbow (organic grocery) than I do at church. Hmm...
4. I can pinpoint many 80's songs to the month they hit the top 40. However, I can't remember my kids names half the time. Make that the majority of the time now.  They are just all called by my dog's name or my little brother's name now.
5. I'm not a fan of the prosperity gospel or it "prophets". If it were true, my grandparents would not have been financially poor all of their lives. I'm just sayin'.  The prosperity gospel is the idea that God wants everyone to be rich and healthy, and if you just have enough faith (or give enough money), then you will have these things.  My grandparents taught me the meaning of faith, more than any of the 'name it and claim it' folks on TV.
6. I'm becoming a fan of adult alternative music. I have no idea what categorizes a song as such, but I like when that channel is on.
7. I have lived in 6 different places in 3 years. Have lived in 3 more places since then.
8. I am one of the least judgmental people I know in regards to past mistakes.
9. I think racism is horrible, and images or reports of it make me cry every time I see them. Every. Single. Time.
10. I love being around water (the nature kind), and see God everywhere around it. I want to go swimming at Dalewood in pre-hurricane force winds. I want a mini Viking funeral at Dalewood, too.  Dalewood is the lake/community I grew up in.  I did the hurricane swim last summer.  AWESOME.
11. I miss Allyce. My cousin, who was killed in a car wreck when we were both in college.  If I had a girl, her middle name would have been Allyce.
12. Gilmore Girls is my favorite all time TV show.  Still
13. I have been an adjunct college professor for 10 years. I love it and it keeps me sane. Well, theoretically anyway.  I have not been able to teach since my car wreck.  I no longer have the endurance or mental 'with it ness' to do it.  I was pretty darn good at it, though.
14. I never answer my phone and am very slow about returning calls or emails, if ever. I'm a pretty poor excuse of a friend/family member. At least I am aware of that fact, though. It's nothing personal.  Still
15. My favorite colors are red and yellow, and my favorite foods are cheese pizza and tater tots. I hate cooking now.
16. My lifelong dream has been to go on a Mediterranian cruise, with extended time in Greece.  Still

Dalewood - no hurricane force winds, but 3 hurricane force boys

And for good measure, I have added a few more.

17.  I was in a car wreck almost 3 years ago.  I broke both of my knees and a bone in my hand.  I will never have full function of my knees, and can only bend them halfway.  I thought this would be a defining life moment.  Until...

18.  My oldest son was diagnosed with cancer 6 months ago.  Now we are all very, very tired.

19.  I never thought I would embrace electronic books, but it is just becoming way too convenient to just do it.

I think that is about all.  For now, anyway.