Farley, Juanita

Farley, Juanita1

Juanita Faye Eaves Carr Farley passed away in the early hours of February 16, 2020, at the age of 92. In her last few days, she was surrounded by her family which was exactly what she wanted. Juanita and her twin sister, Avonetta, were born on May 25, 1927, in Rockport, Texas. There were 12 siblings: Opal, Bertie, Roy, Hazel, Lennie, Otha and Ola (twins), Mary Jane, Gladys, Agness, and finally Juanita and Avonetta. Juanita married Eddie Carr on October 9, 1944, and they had four children: Stephen, Karen, Sunny, and Bruce. She also had a son-in-law who was her son in her heart, David Schlafer. When Eddie died on October 22, 1985, they were just a few days shy of their 41st wedding anniversary.  After Eddie had been gone several years, she married John Farley who thought she was the bees knees. She was preceded in death by her parents, her siblings, both of her husbands, her son Stephen, and her great granddaughter, Eave. Left to cherish her memory are her kids, Karen, Sunny, Bruce and David; her grandkids: Sherry (William) Carr-Smith, Heather Schlafer Weedon, Sam Burgos, Erin Burgos, Matt (Natalya) Burgos, Stephanie (Mykel) Dunn and Eva (Francisco) Rodriguez; her great grandkids: MaKenna, Elena, Samantha, Bronwyn, Nicholas, Evelyn, Harley, Tobin, Augustyne, Tesla, Alexander, and Maya Zelda; and, her great-great grandkids: Ezekiel and Armani.

Those are all facts about Juanita, but there are other things you should know.

You paid a price to walk into her home. Everyone who walked through her doors had to give her a hug or risk a loud, “Hey! Where is my hug?” It may even be true that some people would have a competition amongst themselves to see who could get a hug faster, securing Juanita’s place as favorite for the moment. Everyone was more than willing to pay her price.

Juanita loved to laugh. When she and her siblings were together, the laughing was loud and contagious. It was hysterical to be with her when she got tickled by something. Juanita laughed until she cried. She didn’t like to be sad, so she wouldn’t watch, listen to, or read sad stories.

One of the strongest memories for many people, about Juanita, was her love of books. She always had a book in her purse (because she was always early everywhere so had plenty of time to read), next to her chair, at the kitchen table. Her granddaughter, Sherry, didn’t know that everyone didn’t read at the table while they ate until she was in her late teens. Juanita wanted to know that a story ended well, so she read the end of every book before she started it. Not a good ending? She didn’t bother to read it. The only other thing that was just about as constant as her reading was her crossword puzzles. When they were little, her grandkids were amazed that she did all the crosswords in ink. And then they figured out that she used erasable pens, but didn’t actually need the eraser much.

Juanita was a wonderful story teller. And she hardly ever told the same story twice. Everything from playing basketball in high school and softball in Cuba to being pregnant and raising her kids all over the country following Eddie’s Navy assignments.

Being a Navy wife was a huge part of who Juanita was. She could tell you stories about living in Virginia where Steve was born, Rhode Island where Karen was born, then to Oregon where Sunny was born, and finally back to Texas where Bruce was born. She talked about what it was like to be a small-town girl living in huge cities like Philadelphia and Boston. Or trying to get to the beach one more time before they had to leave Cuba because Castro was taking over and not fond of the military. And about driving across the country many times when Eddie was being stationed in another city or coast.

Maybe all of that travelling was why she never hesitated to hit the road when someone needed her. She went to graduations all over the country, helped move kids and grandkids, and drove to oil rigs in the middle of nowhere when her second husband, John, was on a job. She thought nothing of going where she was needed, or taking her people where they needed to go.

Her people. There were so many who got to be one of Juanita’s people. The ones by birth, of course. But she also never hesitated to welcome people into the family. A boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, cousin, or friend was treated like part of the family from the beginning. If one of her people loved someone? That person became one of her people too. And they got a birthday cake to prove it.

And there was a lot of birthday cake. If it was nearing your birthday, you got a call from Juanita. What do you want for your birthday lunch and what kind of cake do you want? Many times, from many of her grandkids, the answer to the birthday lunch was her casserole. Which is cheesy chili mac, but is just called casserole. Again, Sherry didn’t know there were other kinds of casserole until she was in high school. Also? So much cake. If the kind of cake you wanted wasn’t one that everyone liked? She baked a cake for other people too. It was not unusual for there to be at least two kinds of cakes at each birthday, if not three. Plus the five different flavors of ice cream.

Cake wasn’t her only signature. She made amazing candy at Christmas. Her Heavenly Hash, Divinity and Spiced Pecans have been all over the world. They were part of care packages when her grandsons were deployed and helped others feel closer to home when they were far away. Of course she always sent enough so that the recipient could share. Manners were important and people shouldn’t feel left out.

Juanita was tough but fair. She expected a lot out of you, everything from doing your chores around the house to getting good grades. But she was also realistic because sometimes you want to go to a friend’s house before you scrub the bathtub and math is hard. You knew, when Juanita told you to do something, that your life would just be easier if you did it and did it right the first time. She held everyone to a high standard.

The highest standard for Juanita may have been honesty. She could not abide a lie or a liar. And boy, her disappointment was hard to deal with. She gave everyone the benefit of the doubt until she knew you’d lied to her. Then you would have to work really hard to earn back her trust. Juanita had this knack for making it known she wasn’t mad, just disappointed. And nobody wanted to disappoint her.

Of course she went through a lot of disappointment in her 92 years. But she was nothing if not pragmatic. Juanita had big feelings (because she had such a giant heart), but she also got on with life. In her world, that often meant dealing with a disappointment at the same time that she was caring for someone else. She was a tether to many people, maybe most especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren. At some point or another, most of her grandchildren either lived with her or on her property. There was no way Juanita would let any of her people be uncared for if it was at all in her power. Sometimes that meant living with her for half your childhood, sometimes that meant having lunch with whichever grandkids were around every Sunday. It meant talking with family and friends on the phone – even if you had to call her every time because she never wanted to bother someone in case they or a kid were sleeping or otherwise busy. It meant babysitting her grandkids and great grandkids as much for herself as for their parents. It meant her acknowledging that people make mistakes but they aren’t to be thrown away. But it also meant giving people space and not begging them to do the things she thought they ought to. She was responsible and loving enough for 100 people.

There are so many things to say about Juanita. She was funny, loving, smart, beautiful, and compassionate. She was also unrelenting and had a moral code that couldn’t be breached. She was never happier than when all of the kids, grandkids, and great grandkids were around and she got to hold her babies. She held babies so moms could sleep and she answered all of the nervous questions those same moms asked when they didn’t know what was wrong. If you asked, “Grandma, when your kids were little, did you ever…” she almost always had an answer. But if she didn’t? She wouldn’t lie and pretend to know.

Juanita loved fiercely and anyone who got to be one of her people knew it without a doubt. She never wanted to be a burden on her family in her old age. Of course she never could have been a burden. But, she left this world the way that she wanted. All of her affairs were in order, and she got to see all of her grandkids. She was surrounded by them in the two days before she died, and was never alone for a minute at the end. Her last words were, “I love you all.” And if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about Juanita Faye Eaves Carr Farley, then all the words in the world wouldn’t be able to do it.

Juanita didn’t like funerals, in fact, she hated them. So she didn’t want one. She also loved flowers, but not dead ones, so griped any time someone “wasted” money getting them for her. If you would like to do something to honor this amazing woman, please consider donating to the Odem Public Library. Or read a good book, do a crossword puzzle, laugh so hard you cry, or hold a baby.

If you would like to make a donation to the Odem Public Library, send a check with a note that says it is in memory of Juanita Farley. If you’d like, you can also request that any donations be used to buy specific books or to support specific programs. Odem Public Library, 516 Voss Ave., Odem, TX 78370