As I stood at the funeral home last night watching hundreds and hundreds of people waiting hours to pay their last respects, I was simply overwhelmed. His elementary school teachers were there. His former high school coaches were there. His childhood best friends were there. His hunting buddies were there. His cousins. His co-workers. His aunts and uncles. His parents. His siblings. His wife. His three sons. That’s a lot of people. But that’s not all. His children’s teachers and coaches came. His son’s best friends came. People from church came. His wife’s childhood friends came. And all her family came. And her customers came. And then people came who maybe didn’t even know Brian very well, but they knew his parents. Their co-workers came. Maybe some hadn’t seen or spoken with them in years, but they came. Everybody came because in some way, shape, or form, Brian had an impact on their lives. When they heard the news, they just came.
We all have a Brian story. Here’s mine –
I am 4 years older than Brian. My family lived on one side of Ma (our grandmother) and Brian’s family lived on the other. Ma’s house was our childhood playground. We spent our summers playing in her yard. Brian was a farmer from birth. I remember him wearing jean and boots when it was 100 degrees outside. He rarely ever wore shorts, and when he did, he still had his boots on. I was the oldest of the cousins that lived on County Line Road and I was the bossiest. I would want to play something like grocery store or insurance office, and Brian would never go along with it. He always wanted to dig in the dirt. We used to play “Lang’s Sporting Goods”. Our cousin, Jamey, was Mr. Lang and I was the Vice President. I would use the foot pedal on Ma’s sewing machine as my intercom and bark out orders. Lisa and Brian were thick as thieves and always had to be given the same assignments or they wouldn’t play. Since they hated playing inside, I would give them “jobs” outside. They were supposed to pretend they were driving to Decatur to sell uniforms or helmets, but instead I’d find them pushing tractors around the yard. It was very frustrating, let me tell you. I was trying to run a business and they never would cooperate. One summer Ma let us convert an old cotton wagon into our playhouse. We set up house in there with old furniture and blankets. She put a tarp on the top to keep everything dry. I was the mama and I kept the little kids (Cara, Leah, and Marla), while Lisa and Brian went out to “work” in the fields.
I remember one time when me and Lisa and Brian decided to strip down to our underwear and cover our bodies with mud. It was lots and lots of fun until my mom found us and freaked out. It’s just mud, right? Yes, that’s true, but when you use well water and the well is DRY… it’s a problem. Just to prove I’m not exaggerating…
|Amy, Lisa, and Brian - 1978(ish)|
I tried to find a picture with all the cousins, but I couldn’t. This one has 11 of the 13 pictured.
|Kurt, Tina, Craig, Leah, Brian, Cara, Marla, Tammy, Amy, Lisa, Keith (not pictured: Alan and Jamey)|
As far back as I can remember, Brian called me “Ramey Ren”. Like Amy Lynn, but with the R sound. I have no idea why. Maybe it came from Scooby Doo or something– I never really thought about why – but that’s my last memory. I was coming out of the store and he was walking in. He gave me his famous grin and said, “Heyyy Ramey Ren” just like he always did.
I love you, Brian. I hope they have tractors and dirt in Heaven.