Our long time neighbor, Mickey McFarland, died a few weeks ago. When we first moved in at the end of the road, Mickey’s parents, Carlos and Haddie Lee still lived in the house. They were great neighbors and we always made a point to stop and talk with them any time they were out and about.
A few years later, Mickey moved in with them. Mickey served in the military and as the story goes, he experienced some terrible things. The first time I met Mickey, he scared me a little bit. He was well over six feet tall and when he talked, I couldn’t understand a word he said. I quickly realized he was harmless and Mickey kind of became a local celebrity on our dirt road. Every morning we found Mickey tracks, heading up to the big shed at the front of the farm. And sometime between noon and naptime, they headed back the other way.
One of my most favorite memories is when Mickey flagged David down one afternoon. He rubbed his head, front to back, talked real loud and gravelly, and we only caught every couple of words. “Fo’ dolla’. Smokes.” That’s all we understood, but we soon learned that his favorite pack of cigars at the Cherry Lake Store cost about four dollars. So from that day forward, we affectionately changed Mickey’s name to Four Dollar.
Another time, one of Four Dollar’s dogs got loose and we found him at the end of the road. David called the dog and tried to get him to follow us, but he just stood there. Finally David had an idea and started to talk real loud and gravelly, like Mickey, and the dog tucked its tail between its legs and headed home through the woods. It was the funniest thing.
Mickey was one of those folks we have always looked out for. All of the neighbors stopped and talked, shared meals, took him to the store, and made sure he was alive and well. We were driving down our road last week and my youngest said, “Mama, I miss Four Dollar. I’m sad that he died.” I’m sad, too. Folks like Four Dollar are just supposed to be around. We are supposed to run into him on the way home. David’s supposed to be flagged down a couple times a week for some smokes. Our neighbors are supposed to be over there helping him work on the house and mow the grass. David’s dad is supposed to be carrying bundles of greens by his house and toting him around on his buggy. His big ole footprints are supposed to be up and down our road.
But they aren’t. Cancer took Mickey a few weeks ago and all we have are memories. Four Dollar wasn’t a fancy man. He wasn’t a world changer or a movie star. He was a simple man, living a simple life in the backwoods of Cherry Lake. He enjoyed his cigars and he loved to be outside on a pretty day. Most people would never notice that he’s gone. But we do. All of us neighbors still catch ourselves looking for him during the day or wanting to make sure he has a heater now that it’s getting cooler. His funny mannerisms and way of doing life will forever be etched on the dust our dirt road.
As we remember Mickey, I want to challenge you to pay attention to the folks around you. Enjoy them while they are here. Make memories that won’t fade. Take time and care for them, because one day, you will wake up and they will only be a memory. May you rest in peace, Mickey McFarland.