Journals The Tattoo

Goodbye, yellow brick road

Aurora, Nebraska, UNITED STATES — Death is a strange thing.

It seems natural and unnatural all at once — natural in the sense that we know it will happen to us, one of the few certain things in our lives.

Paradoxically it seems uncertain because it changes our lives drastically when we knew someone who has died.

James Farrand

My seventh grade social studies teacher, Jim Farrand, died this month at the age of 49.

It was a heart attack, the official coroner’s report stated, probably due to the gallons of coffee he seemed to consume every day.

Mr. Farrand loved coffee, and you couldn’t think of him without thinking of it.

Most teachers tend to use plastic containers or boxes to store their teaching utensils, such as highlighters and rulers. That wasn’t the case with Mr. Farrand: he used Folgers coffee cans all the way. His room always smelled of the thick aroma of coffee.

In fact, if it wasn’t for that room I probably wouldn’t have started drinking coffee myself.

Mr. Farrand was a cool guy, and the coolest teacher at Aurora ( Neb. ) Middle School.

He was the kind of guy you would want to be friends with if you were the same age. During his class he let us do the forbidden … chew gum. In fact, he would sometimes bring it for us. How could he get any cooler?

Music was a constant in his room, and it wasn’t the usual crap most teachers would play. No Beethoven or Mozart for him, it was rock all the way.

He had a huge CD collection, which ranged from Bruce Springsteen to ZZ Top, he had it all. The only fault I ever saw in Mr. Farrand’s taste was his liking for Elton John, one of his favorite artists.

Mr. Farrand had all of his CDs in his room, but we ended up listening to one song almost everyday. He said it was his favorite: “Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road .”

In my mind that room will always be Mr. Farrand’s, no matter what teacher takes it. The music, the coffee, the Folgers coffee tins, and his kindness will always be in my mind and in my heart.

The day following after Mr. Farrand’s death was full of open crying in school, with everyone talking about him and how much we loved him.

The saddest thing about his death was that he left behind two small children and a wife.

I hate to admit it but it really didn’t hit me until that night as I was laying in bed listening to my radio and “Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road ” came on.

I began to cry in the darkness of my bedroom.

Zach Brokenrope is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.