If this is being read to you, it probably means that you have a lot of questions.
Questions for which the answers just aren’t coming fast enough. Rather than try to answer you as you formulate them; how about instead I tell you a short story? A story that “picks up” where your memory seems to have left off…
If I’m not mistaken, you are probably thinking it is circa 2008, 9 or 10 right? And you are working like a boss at Rainbow Industries, right? No retirement for you yet, eh?
And your husband, Mick? He is somewhere…else, right now. Maybe a business trip. Or he could be downstairs, upstairs, or going on ahead with the kiddos while you and I catch up later.
And most importantly – while it has been fun: You feel like you really need to be getting home? Is that roughly correct?
But let’s pickup our story somewhere around 1996…I want to make sure we got all our chickens and ducks in their appropriate rows.
Close your eyes and imagine a farm in Ohio. Specifically, just east of Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Think about a wishing well at the end of a long driveway that leads up to a white 2-story farmhouse. Think about pulling up and then behind the house, to a big gray barn and parking your car.
No sooner do your feet hit the ground and you are overwhelmed by happy dogs! Diesel, Daisy and Sugar Time who cannot wait to say hello! And look over by the fence. Behold! A beautiful Peruvian Paso with their elegant gait and long mane. His name is Paco! And look who is coming up to the fence with him. And proud old quarter horse name Buddy. Buddy and Paco. Two true friends come to say hello. And where’s there are happy dogs and happy horses. There’s also a happy goat. Just think of all the happy creatures.
That is something that can always be said of your home. If you are lost and unsure as to your location? Check the local domestic animal population. If they are a bit fat and smiling for no good reason, you are most likely at the McCoy homestead.
And what else happens on a farm? Your husband Mick worked the land. Just like Eddie Albert in Green Acres. You and Mick retired to the country to live off the land!….what the heck were you two thinking?
Was it Mick’s intention (Frank Vernon McCoy, Jr. was known as Mick to everyone) to be a farmer? Or because he had been listening to farmer’s bitch and moan his entire adult life that he thought, “Oh for Christ’s sake, it can’t be that hard.” and decided to finally show them all? What inspired this challenge? Was he going middle aged crazy? Or did his little wife Nan tell him to stop complaining and go show those farmers how its done?
In the end, the question is: Did he show those farmers?
Or did he learn a very important life experience lesson?
The answer is yes, he did.
Ultimately, he did not learn how easy it is to farm. Instead, he learned how quickly everything breaks down.
And that “End of the honeymoon” for farming coincided with increasing pressure for Mick to consider
“Selling Rainbow”. Retiring for good.
For Mick, work always meant battle. Most days, something for some reason would cause him to descend into some sort of rage. Maybe a person who couldn’t stop being stupid? Maybe just a bolt was too tight on a nut. Somewhere in that spectrum, and at some count for the day, Mick would explode. It seemed more and more to the folks around him, that it would be easier to get their jobs done if Mick wasn’t always around.
And that is how, the two of you found yourselves slowing down from Rainbow Industries, and settling into the rural American farming lifestyle.
Your daughter Wendy, and her husband Joe Schmidt, eventually worked out a purchase agreement for Rainbow, so that you and Mick could officially, completely and fully: retire.
Around the same time that you cut the Rainbow umbilical cord, and for some unknown reason; you and Mick also decided to relocate to a 40 acre parcel of undeveloped land in Williston, Florida.
It was here in Williston that you lived in a double wide mobile home. You took up painting again. Creating “Kissing Turtles”, “Buddy” and an entire fish series? Some even sold at a local Art Festival! And hours of wandering the woods on your property was what you needed in order to finally successfully quit smoking cigarettes! Fortunately, you had little Maggie & Cutie Pie to walk with you while you argued with God about your cravings. Remember how Maggie would lick inside Mick’s mouth?
And living just a few hours from Daytona Beach and Disney Land certainly gave the Kearns family excuses to come visit throughout the year. Remember Christmas, as Kathy would sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus, and her kids would blow out the candles on the cake?
But none of that could really pacify the loneliness and isolation you were feeling in Williston. Just because dad stopped working at Rainbow, did not mean he stopped being angry. With your bedrooms located at opposite ends of the mobile home, the Williston lifestyle just wasn’t working for you was it?
Often times, asking “Do you remember Florida?” will help get the mind ready for the new day like jumping into a near frozen lake of water. And then to discover that there was life in Ohio AFTER Florida is sometimes just a little too much.
In 2011 you broke broke Mick’s hermit spirit. Clearly living in isolation was Mick’s thing. You went stir crazy on that isolated plot of land. Living in Williston in this double wide in the middle of nowhere was too isolating. So Mick bought you a beautiful little 3 bed, 2 bath, pool home in a development called (of all the retirement villages) “Rainbow Springs” in Dunnellon, Florida.
This is when the wheels came off. All of his life, Mick has suffered from IED (Impulsive Explosive Disorder). If it weren’t for your forbearance, forgiveness and long suffering, Mick – like his son Sean would be on wife number “God Only Knows…”
With Nan in Dunnellon, Mick could run 20 minutes away to the land in Williston. He would stay there for a day or two. Until he “settled down”. Then he would return to Dunnellon. Seems like a plausible solution. So that Mick could have his place to rage without you having to be there to listen. And it served it’s purpose until February 3rd, 2012. During one of their “mini splits”, Mick induced heart failure in Williston, while you slept in Dunnellon.
Heart failure is what we say, so as to avoid the long horrible tangential conversation that occurs if we explain that Mick’s heart stopped because he committed suicide by overdosing on pain meds & alcohol. You seem to have no memory that your husband is dead, much less how he died.
Although, sometimes you seem aware that some information has been modified.
When I say “heart failure”, you will ask unbelievingly “A heart attack?” followed by “Who found him?”.
‘Twas, as though, there are details you suspect you know, but can’t quite call it into order.
But you otherwise seem to remember zero about Mick dying.
I witnessed you identify your husbands body. I watched you participate as we sprinkled his ashes on the Williston property.
I listened to you speak remembrances of him. The whole family (less than 20 total, as it is) came down for support. For four days we all lived together and processed the event. Zero memory.
Your oldest daughter Wendy temporarily moved to Florida, to help her get all your affairs in order. You, who never wanted to move to Florida in the first place (so you say) was certainly ready to get away from anything Williston and Dunnellon. Sell it all and get the hell out of Dodge.
In late 2012, You moved back to Ohio. It was decided you were too independent and refused to be a burden. So you purchased an “820 square foot brick shit house”. And from this new base of operations at 3921 Tacoma Street, you would live your new life as The Orphaned Widow Nan. Fully retired and spending the kids’ inheritance on the grandchildren.