Revisiting the Past
At the present time, I have the following children: Paul Reimer, Amanda
Reimer, and Joseph Reimer. I intentionally omit all of my children from
this, my Last Will and Testament, except for the provisions made for
Paul Reimer as set forth herein. The omission of all of my children
except for Paul Reimer is not occasioned by accident or mistake and is
intentional. My son, Paul Reimer, has stayed with us on the farm and we
would not have been able to hold it together and have the type of assets
we have today without his dedication and assistance. He is the one that
should reap the benefit of his hard work … All of my clothing,
jewelry, ornaments, automobile or automobiles, books, household
furniture and furnishings, and personal effects of every kind and nature
used about my person or home at the time of my decease I hereby devise
… the same in equal shares to my son, Paul Reimer, and the issue of my
son, Paul Reimer, by right of representation …
—The Last Will and Testament of Jay Reimer, March 1995
I stare at the documents in my hand. It is 2008, and I am reading a
signed last will and testament of my father. In the same package of
documents is my mother’s will. It is a mirror image of my father’s.
No, my parents are not deceased. But rather they are under a
conservatorship during which time all their legal arrangements have come
to light. The shock, the rejection, and the pain that I feel wash over
me and almost take my breath away. Echoes of the past reverberate in my
It is the summer of 1986. I am twenty-nine years old. I watch Pappy’s
retreating back with a sense of despair. His figure, clad in green
cotton pants supported by suspenders over the usual gray shirt and
topped with a Dekalb cap, strides purposefully and determinedly away
from me toward his truck. I do not know this man or respect him any
longer. I am at the end of my rope. I have no desire to do anything. I
just cannot go on. I sit on a straw bale on this warm sunny summer day
for several minutes and try to decide what to do. I am sick to my
stomach. The black cloud that always threatens to overtake me descends
like a shroud around me. I just want to die.
I had not planned to leave my job as the dairy herdsperson on my
father’s farm just yet. I have not finished getting the cow records up
to snuff. Now, I no longer care. My shoulders droop, and I walk slowly
to the two-story white farmhouse. I tread softly through the kitchen,
turn right, and head up the stairs to my bedroom. Mama is sleeping on
the couch downstairs in the living room after a night of work at the
hospital as a nurse. I pull out Mama’s old suitcase that is stored in
my closet and begin to throw the basic items that I will need into it.
Then I sit on my bed for minutes at a time, trying to decide if I can
really go through with this. My mind is in turmoil. Every muscle in my
body contracts as fear grips me. I finally snap the suitcase shut and
tiptoe down the stairs to the kitchen. Mama is still asleep.
“Mama,” I say as I detour to the living room door. Her eyes flicker
open. “I’m leaving.”
Without giving her time to respond, I spin, pick up the suitcase, and
stride quickly toward my car. I waste no time in throwing the suitcase
into the backseat and plunking myself behind the wheel. I do not want to
allow Mama any time to try to stop me. Having been jerked from her
slumber by my sudden announcement, Mama gathers herself up to follow me.
I see her standing with her arms hanging limply at her sides on the
mudroom entry steps as I drive away. Her Mennonite-style dress covered
with an apron and her uncombed hair wave in the breeze as she gazes
after me in bewilderment.
Just a little over a year later, in 1987, I am jolted awake at 2:30 p.m.
from my day sleeping after a previous night shift at the hospital as a
nurse by the ringing of the telephone.
“Hello,” I groggily intone into the phone.
“This is Joe. Will you come and get me? I need to get out of here.”
Now I am wide awake. My mind races. I am torn as to how to respond.
“I don’t really want to get involved,” I tell him.
“Just get me out of here and give me a ride to the bus station. I can
take care of myself from there,” he pleads.
I pause while I try to decide what to do. I know how hard it was for me
to leave and how everyone was reluctant to help for fear of Pappy. If I
don’t help him, no one else is going to. Certainly, Joe deserves to
escape as much as I did.
“All right,” I give in. “I’ll come and get you tomorrow
I am shaking as I hang up the phone. I know there will be ramifications
for helping him. I also have no idea if Pappy and Mama are even aware of
his plan to leave.
I try to swallow the lump in my throat as I drive up the long driveway
and park beside the old box-shaped farmhouse the next afternoon. I am
queasy and lightheaded. Joe, a well-built muscular young man, comes out
of his bedroom and down the stairs, carrying the infamous suitcase.
Pappy and Mama sit in the living room sobbing. The tears start to roll
down my cheeks too. I feel sorry for these people who are my parents.
They are crying because their children have “abandoned” them. They
are heartbroken that their dream of us all farming together has been
“How are we going to make it now?” is their plaintive question to
I do not answer. There is no benefit in pointing out that their
inability to transition from treating us like children to treating us
like adults has brought about this result. I need to get out of here.
“Come on. Let’s go.” I nod at Joe, my twenty-nine-year-old
brother, and jerk my head toward the door. We climb into the car and
Joe and I have both chosen to leave the unrealistic demands of life on
the farm under our father’s tight control. We are leaving him and our
older brother, Paul, to manage and work the farm alone. Yes, my father
told me and Joe that if we left the farm, we would not get anything from
it, but leaving the farm to Paul is a different thing than totally
disinheriting us. How had we come to this point as a family that my
parents’ final message to us is one of abandonment and of completely
Excerpted from "No Longer a Child of Promise" by Amanda Farmer. Copyright © 2015 by Amanda Farmer. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.