My friend John McCarthy (former Blue Hen) has worked in college athletics for more than two decades. Here’s his take on the passing of a wonderful woman—and her husband’s effort to carry on alone.
Sometimes I like to get my thoughts and feelings out by writing … so here goes something that’s been on my mind …
Yesterday, I stopped by to visit Buck Farmer. Buck is 92-years old and lost his wife, Betty, about a month ago. He was outside when I got there, and we went inside to talk.
I first met Buck and Betty through the NAIA Tournament. Together, they have been to the tournament for 67 consecutive years. To take that a step further, at least one of them (usually both) have been present for every game during those 67 years—except one (when the tournament was moved to Tulsa, they came back home to Kansas City to watch the championship game on television). On their 65th-consecutive year, I had them throw up the ceremonial opening tip to start the tournament. During their 2,000th NAIA Tournament game (an absolutely incredible amount of tournament games), I gave the public address announcers a script to read about Buck and Betty’s streak.
Indeed, the streak is remarkable. But the people are even more remarkable. Buck and Betty are among the best of the best. Great examples of Christian married people who love each other.
So, Betty’s passing was, of course, really difficult for Buck.
I was inside, talking with Buck, when the phone rang. Some telemarketer, asking for “Mrs. Farmer.” Buck replied to the telemarketer, “Mrs. Farmer is no longer with us,” and returned to the couch with red eyes. Inside, I got emotional. It hit me that it really hit him.
Buck showed me some recent pictures of himself by the high school that he and Betty attended, her grave site and photos from his hometown of Atlanta, Missouri. He mentioned that a friend is going to take him back to Atlanta again soon so that he can pick out a tombstone for himself and Betty.
During our conversation, he mentioned that November 6 would have been their 68th wedding anniversary—and his first without Betty. I looked right at him and asked if that day was hard. He looked back at me and said, “Every day is hard.” I got a lump in my throat.
Buck said, “She’s in a good place, you know.” Then he said, “I’ll be with her soon. I’m 92, you know.”
I drove home quietly, just thinking about life.