|Article Index||"The Story Of GoatWorld (Part VIII)"||Article Index|
The Story of GoatWorld will take a brief intermission here if you will as I reflect on all the changes made through my life up to this point that have ultimately brought me to this point in life. Various situations in the last few years have caused me to change my viewpoints and take stock of life. Many would view this as a mid-life crisis but trust me, I'm well beyond that.
Perhaps the most recent events relate to my family; my father passed away in March of 2008. The year prior, my mother had been disagnosed with lung cancer. Certainly these two events in and of themselves are cause for a person to look back as well as look ahead.
Unfortunately my life had been rather complicated as a young boy. As a newborn infant, I was diagnosed to have a congenital heart defect which at the time, was a rather dire condition as surgery (now done while the infant is still in the womb) was a major undertaking. It would take several years for it to be perfected and also take several years before they could safely perform the repair on me. So it's no small wonder that I was a handful for new parents to cope with based upon my needs and not long after I was born, my parents divorced and I was raised by my mother. My father still had visitation rights and did so, but I essentially had two distinct families, and could even go as far as saying I had three since my maternal grandparents also had a direct hand in raising me.
Nearly 48 years later, one could perhaps understand that a child raised between two families will be closer to one of the divorced parents than the other and such was the case for myself. My dad and I did get along even though the relationship at times could have been considered strained, but the relationship blossomed in the last 10 years of his life and the past had been completely put aside. One thing I can say is that if whoever reading this has such a situation, please don't tell yourself that you will do something tomorrow when you have every opportunity to do it today as you may wake up tomorrow to find out it is too late - things have changed.
I happened to be assisting a goat with a difficult kidding delivery when the call came in on my cell phone from my dear aunt. "your father passed away earlier today". Those words numbed me to the core and I found it hard to speak. Not long thereafter, I made all the obligatory calls to the "other side" of the family and began to think of a plan to attend the funeral in Vancouver, WA. To be honest, I wasn't really sure I had wanted to go even though I knew it was the right thing to do. As I mentioned about putting things off today that can be done tomorrow, I had always told my father that I had planned to get out there to see him...the last time I had actually seen him was in 1991 making it many, many years. Something I will always regret not being able to follow through with.
So that decision was difficult to make and I really was leaning towards not going when another call came in from a GoatWorld member. Without revealing names for privacy purposes, this member told me that he had not been able to attend his own fathers funeral, and that he wanted to buy round trip airfare for me to attend - simply because I had helped so many people along the way (with GoatWorld) and that I deserved the kindness is return. I sat in my garage and cried for quite awhile feeling the love and care of literal strangers in my time of mourning.
A year before my fathers passing, my mother had called to let me know they had found lung cancer and that she would be getting surgery. I remember telling my father jokingly in a phone conversation that he better not plan on expiring any time soon just in case my mother didn't make it. I can still hear his words clearly - "I don't plan on going anytime soon". As it turned out, my mother had the surgery and each test thereafter has deemed her cancer free. Life can throw the unexpected and the expected at you each and every day so again I have to say, please try and do those things today which can easily be put off until tomorrow. You just never know what will happen and when.
My mother had remarried when I was around the age of five - my step-father Leo who would pretty much take the reigns of my upbringing and I am happy to say, he and my mother are still together today. From the time he entered the picture until now, we basically lived all over the United States; from California to Kentucky and from the road to Oregon and then back to California. After leaving home early myself, I would pick up where he left off and travel world wide and go from Daytona Beach, Florida to Huntington Beach, California. But believe it or not, there are still places I haven't been. So the open road sometimes calls...
My grandparents on the other hand were always there for me and there were many points in my life that it is where I could be found. They had definite, positive influences on me but mostly fueled my passion and desire for music. And after my dear grandmother had passed away in 1990, there was a point when my grandfather told me to bring my wife and the goats up to his place and give him a hand. Unfortunately that never transpired but it just went to show their love and support for anything short of breaking the law that I would endeavor in.
I could begin listing bands and musicians that I have been associated with over the years but the list would fill many pages and probably be meaningless anyway. One musician in particular who I went to high school with became famous and later infamous with the Rhode Island, Great White night club fire. It was during the time of living with my grandparents that I became part of the SoCal music scene and in retrospect, I could have stayed and maybe gone on to different paths, but I didn't so there is no point in dwelling upon it. But what I can say is that my grandparents kept my musical aspirations alive and I would repay their memory the only way I knew how several years later.
Mostly in bands when you are doing gigs and engagements, there isn't really time or place to thank the ones who got you there in the first place. Those thanks largely go to the people who are right there at that point in time. The real thanks usually come down to when awards are being handed out or you can acknowledge them in the credits. In mid 2003, such a chance became possible as I was playing for a band named BadDogs which was on the verge of releasing a CD. At one particular band meeting we discussed what and who to thank to be listed on the CD insert. Of course I had a list of so many people but it was discussed that only a certain amount of room would be available. I had no problem with that but when it came to the cuts to be made, I insisted on leaving Jim and Nancy Jordan on the credits. The question came up, "who are they and are they really that important?" I replied, they are my grandparents and yes they are important because thanks to them, I am here playing music with you. When the CD was released, their names were included on the credits.
Unfortunately my grandfather passed away the very same day that we received back the final pressing of the CD...up to then he had only heard studio outtakes and various live recordings from performances. He had no idea that I had included he and my grandmother on the credits. I know that he would have cherished that CD as I truly believe that in another life, he would have been out there with a group playing sounds into the night. My grandmother on the other hand had no musical skills as her talents were more centered around being a childhood actor in the silent films. The Perils of Pauline is one film she appeared in. A fine, eloquent lady, both she and my grandfather are greatly missed by every life they touched.
As GoatWorld has grown over the years, more and more people call and write with questions regarding their goats. I've talked to alot of great people from all over the world and many of them are intrigued on how eclectic my interests are. But they often wonder how music and goats tie together. Good question. Being a farmer is one thing...being a musician is another. But being both together takes a certain amount of glue (and patience). It seems that I am not alone in my quest for combining the two. I have heard that Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame and fortune ran a sheep farm during the whole time he was with that band (perhaps still running it). Singer Songwriter Jewel married a fellow name Ty who runs a farm for retired rodeo bulls. Buffy St. Marie (a GoatWorld member) raises goats in Hawaii. These are just a few examples and I am sure there are more.
I know that there are some people (myself obviously included), that as we get older we may be drawn to a simpler and slower paced lifestyle which is less likely to be the everyday hustle and bustle of city living. Why? Maybe there is an inner peace we seek. Raising ANYTHING that depends on YOU certainly takes its own share of time and effort and I sometimes feel may rival making big, crucial decisions that CEO's of giant corporations would make; only in a scaled version. And then of course, even the pressures of a simpler life can make a person reassess their current situations and future desires. In many ways, people are truly like goats as the grass is always greener on the other side.
(Coming sooner than expected!)
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