Empty Diner


When I was fourteen my dad got a new girlfriend. Trouble was she lived about 5 hours away. He was introduced to her by a friend. They hit it off and he spent a few months driving back and fourth to see her.

It wasn’t long until he asked her to marry him and she did. When they got married, she moved from the little town in Arkansas she grew up in to live in my hometown in Oklahoma with my dad. Soon after she moved to Oklahoma, my father passed away. They were only married a few months.

She quickly moved back to Arkansas and I talk to her maybe every two or three years. One day a couple of years ago I get a call from her. I could tell it was going to be a heavy conversation from the tone of her voice. She told me when she married my father, they bought two burial plots next to each other in my hometown. He was buried in his, but she said she had no plans of being buried there. She said, since I had no family of my own and my sister has a family, that I might be the only one that could use it. She offered it to me for free and sent me the paperwork. I now have a plot next to my dad in my hometown.

It really depresses me to think about being buried there. I don’t know why. Most of my family is buried in that cemetery. I just know I don’t have any family left there. It just seems like a real lonely place even though I’ll be dead and won’t care.

Today my sister asked me for all the information she would need if/when I die. Just to be organized and prepared. I sent her names and numbers of friends, my burial plot, my accounts and so on. It was not the funnest letter to write.

After my step mother gave me that plot, I wrote this song. I don’t play it often because it asks a whole lot of the listener. It’s long, wordy and horribly depressing. I’ve played it live maybe three times. Here are the lyrics.

Empty Diner

My dads old Texaco is now a florist
Next to an insurance place that was Baskin Robbins
On the other side was Weinerschnitzel
Now it’s a rental car place, before that Motofoto

For the longest time this town never changed
It was stuck in a line of a simpler time
Now when I go back, arcades have turned to hair salons
All that’s left standing is that empty diner

The same people own it and they’re getting old
Too old to put in the work that once made it grow
And every time I got back I expect it is closed
Every time my grandmother says, any time I suppose

She’s heard from someone at church that they’re in debt to the bank
And keep falling further, but just can’t let go
We go there after church, just out of pity
The foods gotten terrible, the decor is old

One time when I was in town for several days, I rode my bike
Like when I was a kid, passed all the places I used to play
There was this bridge where I’d always see a turtle
And damned if there wasn’t one, basking in the morning sun

This was just another day that struck me as sad
That my dad and his station are gone and I stared
At that florist, it must have been for hours
And I cried and cried for the first time in years

This was just days before my mother had died
I was in town to see her, to say my goodbyes
Everyone’s dying, only my grandmother is left now
It’s hard to find time to see her and I rarely call

But when we do talk, I tell her I’m fine
And I try to disguise that I’m losing my mind
And she tries not to break down about her husband
And both of her kids recently dying

Thanksgiving’s coming and I’ll just have to go
Last time that we talked she said the diner is closed
I’m flooded with memories, a full table of family
When the place was hopping and the food was amazing

Life as I knew it is never coming back
But I’m thankful for everything that I’ve ever had
And sometime while I’m there, I’ll find time on my own
And sit in the lot of the diner that now is closed

I’ll think of my family and all of its’ memories
My mother, my sister, my dad and my daughter
She has a kid now and I worry about her
More that I could ever convey to you right now

I’ll leave this town and I’ll rarely go back
And the changes that take place while I’m gone will be vast
And sometime when my time down here is winding down
I guess I’ll be buried in this once small little town

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