I awoke to a message this morning that a long time friend had passed away: “Big Jim” Garner, of Obliviaxe fame.
We met when I was in college in a little hole in the wall bagel shop on Highland Avenue, Southside, during the summer of ’95. We happened to both be in line to grab lunch. He was wearing a metal shirt of some kind (I don’t even remember what it said now), I told him I liked his shirt, and we struck up a conversation. Finding that we had a lot in common, we talked the entire time as if we’d been friends for years. Before leaving to head back to work, he mentioned that he was in a band and gave me one of their tapes. Obliviaxe’s Master of Reality. I listened to it all the way to work, and then all the way to school that night. I was instantly enamored with their sound. Big Jim and I became inseparable at once. We hung out every chance we got. I followed the band to all of their shows all across the Southeast. He got me into karaoke, and is the reason I still love to do it to this day. Over the years we saw each other through many heartaches and personal tragedies. I was truly blessed to have him in my life.
In 2001 I began working for a small computer shop in Vestavia where he was head of the techs. Sadly, we had a falling out of sorts one day when I argued with him in front of his subordinates. He didn’t take well to me questioning him, and looking back, I could have handled it better. I was so sure I was right, and of course was willing to argue until I was blue in the face to be heard. Our friendship didn’t quite recover from that, and when I got married, that seemed to be the end of it.
I was devastated, but with everything else going on in my life at the time, I thought I would always have time to repair things. I tried reaching out to him over the years since, and we would reconnect for a short time, then radio silence. After my divorce, I tried reaching out to him several times, but I took the lack of response as he was not interested in a friendship anymore. A mutual friend once postured that he wanted more than a friendship with me at one point but was too afraid to say anything about it. Maybe that kept him away? Maybe it was my stubborn pride? Maybe it was something completely different?
I’ve missed him very much over the last few years and wished so much to have had the chance to catch up with him and try to repair what had been broken. No matter the cause, I wished him well and now only hope he found peace and happiness wherever he was.
He shall always be one of my dearest friends. More than a friend, a brother. I love him and miss him, and regret that I never got the chance to tell him how sorry I was, or how much he meant to me.
Sadly I lost most of my pictures of him and the Obliviaxe shows I had attended over the years several harddrives ago. These are all I have left from my own recovered archives and Facebook:
1959 – 2020
It is with great sadness that the family of James (“Jim”) Monroe Garner, III, announces his passing on June 21, 2020. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama on December 29, 1959 and most recently lived in Childersburg, Alabama. Jim graduated from Briarwood Christian High School in 1977. Jim had a career in the computer industry and was in the band Obliviaxe for many years. Jim is preceded in death by his father, James M. Garner, Jr. and his mother, Norma Melton Garner. He is survived by his sister, Jacqueline Garner, and a host of many cousins. The family will be planning a celebration of life later this year.
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