My friend Carole Perdue Farr died from cancer earlier this summer. I write this in place of a sermon for a service of death and resurrection or a funeral or a memorial service because Carole did not want any such service. I write this note for Michael Paul Farr, her husband, and for Jeremy, their son. Carole was fierce in her love for Mike and for Jeremy. She dearly loved them and was not shy in her declarations and, when needed, her defense of them.
Carole was a force. She acted in theater, sang, danced. She earned a doctoral degree in library science and worked for much of her career as a librarian in the Georgia prison system, helping to educate an abused and underserved population.
We were in undergrad school together and then went on to Emory University. I don’t know which of our friends made the indirect reference to the Romanov family, the czar and czarina of Russia, but somehow we began to speak of the Farr and the Farrina. Somehow that designation suited Carole’s sometimes-regal persona.
The mind pulls up strange memories in times of grief. Carole once convinced me to let her use a home permanent on my then-abundant and uncontrolled hair in an attempt to straighten and manage it. While my hair eventually recovered, we agreed that the experience seemed more like a television sit-com.
One painful and funny memory, one of those bittersweet moments, goes back to a Sunday afternoon at Emory in the pre-cable television days. The Farrs invited several of us to their campus apartment to watch television and talk about the grind of course work. The Sound of Music came on the local station and Carole began to sing along with the movie. A friend and I began to lampoon the film, which we’d all seen many times. After telling us politely and then more firmly and still more urgently to stop the ridicule, Carole went to her bedroom during a commercial break and came out with a saber, chasing us out of the apartment. Bittersweet.
We stayed in touch in the years after Emory, visiting back and forth, arguing and enjoying conversations. Carole was never able to get me to admit publicly to any fondness for Maria and her singing charges, but she knew more about my sentimentality than I wanted to make public. So it goes.
A friend across many years of the lifespan is now dead, and the lives she touched are richer as a consequence. May Carole Perdue Farr rest in Love eternal.