Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Goodbye, Randy -- Revisited


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

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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).

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