I always sang The Judds music since I was a little kid. My mother listened to them obsessively and would sing their music. When I started singing, the first song I sang in public was “Grandpa” for my grandfather who took me to the show. Since both Naomi and my grandfather passed, I’ve been listening to them a lot more than I used to, and one song that I always kind of tossed away kept sticking out to me.
The main reason I ignored this song was because its message doesn’t really stick out to a child or a teenager, especially since it’s veiled religion but now I can see that it can be a bit more simple than that. Also, Naomi’s harmonies are very dissonant and used to hurt my ears. Now I see what she’s doing vocally and how it fits with the song that I think it’s absolute genius… she really didn’t get enough credit for her contributions.
I’ve never known where I was going. I’ve always treated life a bit like a gamble, which means I should be writing about Kenny Rogers right now, but I hate gambling. It’s a wonder I’m so cavalier about everything. The things that are purposeful have always been the wrong things. My goals have always been hazy, I’m always moving toward existential rewards which means that I am not always great at preparing for tangible crises. When they come, I act surprised and victimized.
My grandfather’s funeral has been co-opted by my aunt and the rest of my family, and of course my mother is acting all dramatic. As if they have to spend every last penny in order to honor him… and I wonder if when it all ends, if I’m the one who really did know him best.
A lot of his misery in late life came from me. I was not the cause, but I was the source. My sexuality split my family like a stained glass window. He belonged to every fracture and it was hard for him to straddle everything. His marriage to my grandmother collapsed, and in my guilt, I encouraged him to make some very poor choices. But you learn a lot about people when you watch them make bad decisions.
Bad decisions teach you much more about someone’s character than a good decision ever will.
He did everything to make everyone around him happy and managed the distinct families at most times. Every time I was in the room or car when my aunt called, I could feel every hair on my body tingle in hate… and he knew it. He was careful about how he juggled them. When he was one the phone with her, I would always make sure I coughed or pretended to curse at some driver on the road just so she could hear my voice and feel the tingles of hatred for me rise up.
The sword of Damocles was always hanging over my head because of the connection I had to them. Always this sense of doom.
But that’s gone. I can make firm choices now. I know where I’m going.
He would’ve said the same thing because he believed in Heaven. Part of me hopes he’s right. I hope he’s living on those streets of gold with my grandmother.
There are quite a few opportunities here and since I’ve been here in Bangkok, there’s been a lot more stability. And that’s what this song seems to be about for me. The train sounds in the instrumental remind me of the trains I pass every day on my way to work. I’m going somewhere that will have no worries.