Enough beating around the bush, and let me take you back to Biblical times: The other week when we were on the West Coast. (Shit at least it feels like forever ago, it might actually only be a week or two.) Anyway, while we were in (I think) Seattle my mom had me call her. She knows I’m on the road and that time is sparse, so if she needs me to call her it’s probably important. So I called her up and we talked for a bit before she hit me with some news: My grandmother (who’ll henceforth be reffered to as MeMe [that’s me-me, not meme]) had fallen really ill and was heading to the hospital. My mom told me that she was flying down to Tenessee from Detroit to go be with her and make sure everything is okay. (Starting to connect the dots yet? Just hold your britches Nancy Drew.) Mom just wanted me to keep me in the loop and will update me with more info as things progress.
Fast forward a little bit, my mom is in Tenessee with MeMe and things take a turn. At this point we were on our day off in L.A and she texted me with the infamous “Call me, we need to talk.” This is that same text you get from your partner when you’re about to split, the same text I got time and time again when I would call and on the other end I’d be told “[human person] died.” Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) I was not stoked to make that call.
I’ll never forget where I was when my mom picked up; standing on the fucking corner in L.A’s Chinatown. Next to a wok place with a funny name, and the Dynasty Mall. I just stood there as my mom answered and I could hear she’d been crying. She wasn’t audibly sobbing, but in my gut I knew she was trying to stay together for me. I instantly assumed the worse. (Which probably is the least surprising thing you’ve ever heard.) The news wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t good either.
I won’t bore you with the gritty details of what my mom had said, I remember every word. I remember the inflection, the pain in her voice and if you want to find the quickest way to break my robotic heart, it’s to make me relive any moment wherein my mom is in any type of pain. It makes me livid, to not be able to do anything, to not be able to hug her as she balls her eyes out. My grandmother was refusing any and all treatment. She estientially was prepared to be set up for hospice and carted back to her home. My mother, my wonderful, powerful, mother had to call me (her youngest) and tell me this. Knowing full well that the uncertainty would drive me absolutely insane. But she did it because she knew I would want the choice. The choice to pick for myself what I wanted to do. What I was going to need to do in order to be right by myself.
I take death pretty seriously, as I think most people do. It doesn’t really scare me, as I know there’s nothing I can do about my pending demise. And after 40 or so funerals in 27 years of existing (all of which coming in the last 18 years alone), it’s not a foreign concept to me. There’s absolutely nothing that would stop me from attending a funeral of someone I knew or cared about. Because more than anything I know that funerals aren’t for the dead, they’re for the living. And I’ll be damned if someone I care about goes through that alone.
As she told me what was going on, she also reminded me of a couple things: 1.) take time to think about what you want to do, and see if it’s what you need to do. (Because those are 2 different things.) and 2.) know that if at any point I needed to leave tour, we would find a way to get me whereever I needed to go.
I love MeMe, I really do. And I’ll talk more about her in a second. But after hanging up the phone with my mom all I wanted to do was be there for her. To hold her and protect her. She told me she tries to shield me from pain like this, and all I ever want to do is to take away all her pain. But I can’t. And leaving tour at that moment woulda caused too much chaos for the band. I had to think of them, I had to think of myself.
Pop ahead a couple days to San Diego, I call to check in with my mom. The news was… better? And a lot more up beat. I had spent the last couple days literally snapping at the guys in the band. I popped off on their manager about some stupid shit (sorry Buck) and I almost made Zech pull the car over so that I could fight (and purposefully lose) to Aj. (No that did not happen Mrs. Khah, he is fine and we are fine. He has been wearing his shorts so he doesn’t overheat!) I’m not one for self mutilation (I worked very hard on getting out of that mindset years ago), but at that moment (and this has been a common theme in my life that has punctuated times like this) I needed the physical exertion. Traditionally that’s been wrestling, or football or lifting. Anything to beat my body down so I didn’t have to worry about emotions. (I also am aware of how unhealthy it is to bottle shit up like this, and to even have the thought of fighting one of my closest friends over nothing [just to lose] is egregious.) Maybe it’s just my old age, maybe it’s just me maturing, but I managed to peel myself away to get some alone time. Time to call my mom and hear some decent news. But first my mom said I should call MeMe, so I did.
MeMe and I talked for a bit. I told her about touring and she told me I needed to stop wearing a shirt with a “dirty word” on it. This has always been a point of contention for us, she’s anti-swearing and I’m anti-people telling me I can’t be a professional with swearing. And after I told her I was making money off it (thanks to patrons like you and anyone who shops at shop.spreadshirt.com/TheMerchLife) she lamented that “...Guess it’s okay if you’re making money off it.” After her and I hung up I rang my mom and she told me that MeMe had agreed to go to rehab, so that she can get well enough to go to my brother’s wedding. This happened as a result of my mom literally tearing into her verbally. I’m incredibly proud of my mom (and my uncle as well) for calling her on her bullshit. The “let me wither and die” mindset was a crock of shit, and I’m happy my mom called her mom out on it. Moreso than from a daughter’s perspective, my mom popped off from a mother’s perspective. Not only is my brother’s wedding right around the corner, my sister has her own struggles she’s going through, and me being on the road, my mom was (rightfully) angry at MeMe for doing this to her and her kids. Because my mom knew I’d drop everything to be there at any point. Plus, my mom knew MeMe was better than that. That that wasn’t who she was, and it wasn’t the woman who raised her. And you know what? She was fucking right.
Fast forward a little bit more to Atlanta. We bounced out after the show and drove straight to Cookeville, TN. Home of Tenessee Tech University. My mom had offered to put the band up in a couple hotel rooms for the night, and she flew down so that I could take some time to visit MeMe. Which I did. And as much as I love seeing her, and spending time with her, I was not at all about that building she was in. The stench of death permeated literally everything. Like the workers there try to put a positive spin on everything, but it’s just… I don’t know. The words escape me. The imagry does not.
Also I’m sorry this one is so incredibly long, and I haven’t even talked about the band. Maybe I wont post this, I dont know. I guess if you’re reading this, then it’s posted. Anyway…
I’ve always known MeMe was an incredibly accomplished woman. I knew that she had the highest possible degree in education, and that she worked for the federal government at one point, helping to develope grants and shit. What I didn’t know, and what I found out yesterday was that she and her second husband Bill had founded the Tenessee Tech University School of Special Education. Like the entire program, the major/minor, the classes, all that was written by MeMe. They brought in a a speech therapist to rural Middle Tennesee, and an entire department dedicated for the furthering of special education/speech therapy etc. I’m 27 years old and no one has ever thought to tell me about that. So I was thankful to be there, to talk to her. To tell her about my touring and my writing. To tell her about you guys who mean so much to me that you pay to read me pouring my heart out to a fucking computer. Plus, I didn’t wear a shirt with an “ugly word” on it. She’s the only person in the world I would do that for.
Luckily the rest of the day was not at all that eventful. A friend of the band’s (a friend of mine and a patron) by the name of Whitney came early, bringing us my favorite burger in the world: Fat Mo’s. Now, Mo is short for Mohammad, and my guy has the best burger patty ever. Plus she was rocking a preeettyyy dope shirt.
As for the show, it was fuckin’ sick. The venue itself left a lot to be desired, but I feel like the whole shabang set the mood for a pretty punk show. I didn’t have a lot of space at my table, but I decided to hang some shit up again (and have it on the table so that people could see it from afar.)
These kids came out to party which was dope for a market that’s usually focused on country music and hooten-nannies. Between Whitney and these kids having a blast, it made my day a little less stressful. Hell, sitting here writing this has been cathartic. I appreciate the guys allowing me the time to myself so that I could unload this weight off my shoulders the best I could. I appreciate the guys for standing by me and supporting me, allowing me to get to Cookeville and to take the time to see her. Let’s check out some Dieter pics of the show:
I don’t have much else to say that I already haven’t. There’s 2 more days left on tour, and this has been a fucking roller coaster and a half. I feel like I haven’t been home in years, and I feel like I still have another year to go before I can relax again. Thanks for sticking around for the ride.