Ode To Butch  

Steel_Legs 59M/F
310 posts
8/20/2006 8:35 pm
Ode To Butch

“Information, may I help you?”

“My brother is dying. He’s lying in the street with his brains coming out of his head. He was hit by pick up with a camper”

“This is the information operator. Do you have an emergency?” “I’m connecting you to 911.” The humiliation of dialing 411 rather than 911, while my brother leaked gray matter into the gutter, would be with me forever.

A lady I had never seen before took the phone from my hand. I absently listened to her give the operator her address. She had tears in her eyes.

The next thing I remember my parents and my sister, along with some neighbors and family friends were all sitting in the hospital waiting room, hoping never to learn what I already knew. My brother was dead.

Robert Stephen Tuitt, Butch to his family, was 23 years old when he was crushed between his brand new 1972 Dodge Power Wagon and the camper carrying pickup driven by a drunk named Eugene Arlen Johnson. He had returned from the hell of the Southeast Asian clusterfuck ten months earlier. His only wounds were nightmares and low grade dysentery.

Butch picked me up that afternoon in his new truck and we made the rounds to his friend’s places to show it off. We were parked on the street and he was leaning over the driver’s side of the hood, while I sat in the passenger seat, waiting to go home for dinner. The rear window of the truck exploded when the camper’s stabilizer shock smashed it to pieces, followed by the jolt and screech of the drunk’s truck as it sideswiped us. The noise that stands out in my memory was the guffaw like exhalation that escaped from Butch as he was crushed between the two trucks. I looked down on him lying in the street while a gray brown, syrup like fluid streaked through his thick brown hair. I didn’t realize that the gurgling bubbles of blood forming and popping on Butch’s lips signaled his final breaths.

My parents divorced when I was seven and though my father had custody of me, I shuttled between my mother, father, aunt and family friends. My life to that point had been a confused and frightening realm. Like the dreams we’ve all had where you are being chased, but cannot run. My parents were locked into the spiraling insanity of late stage alcoholism. When they were home they were fighting, but they often were not home, leaving my two older sisters and I to fend for ourselves. I always knew my parents loved me, but I also knew that I could not completely trust them. I somehow knew that however things turned out, it was up to me. As this awareness grew, I became equally aware of my powerlessness.

My father found some level of control of his drinking and married Butch’s mother when I was ten. So, Butch was technically my step brother. I’d never had a brother and when Butch bought me a surf board and taught me to surf off the pier on Huntington Beach, he became my brother. I’ve never thought of him any other way, and I never will.

Butch was my real life example of a boy, who became a man, despite the challenges which made the difficulty and pain of my life, seem petty. Butch’s mother, Dorothy was a strong woman of strict catholic faith, who just happened to me married to a psychopath. The father brought every conceivable form of abuse on Dorothy, Butch and his sister Patricia, until around the time of Butch’s fifteenth birthday.

Butch returned from school one day to find his mother bleeding yet again. The temper that would land Butch in occasional trouble later in life, served him well that day. He beat his 6’2” father to a pulp, loaded the bastard in a car with a bag of clothes and sent him down the road.

Butch was my manifestation of faith. He provided me with living proof that I did not, by divine order absolutely have to live my life in constant fear, that I could be more than the wind blown leaf, without direction or intent.

He was 18 when he became my brother and twenty three when I watched him die. In those five years he taught me everything I really needed to know. Most of the knowledge remains invisible to me, yet it always seems to become clear to me when I need it most.

Butch was no saint, and that was perhaps the most important lesson of all. Once, when on leave from Vietnam, Butch and my father got into an argument that escalated to a near fist fight. My father was a scrappy guy and did not have a chicken shit bone in his body, but two seconds into the scuffle it was clear that Butch could easily pulverize him. With his left hand on my father’s throat and his right fist poised to inflict serious damage, Butch released my father and with tears in his eyes said, “I can’t fight you, I have too much respect for you.” It was years later when I learned that Butch was fighting a morphine jones while home on leave, and even more years before I experienced what a miserable bitch that is to carry.

I watched Butch cry as he dressed in his uniform before reporting for duty at the end of his leave. Butch was not particularly patriotic, but he taught me the meaning of honor on that day.

Butch was one of those rare humans who walked through life with a plainly visible aura. I doubt most of us knew what we were seeing, but we all saw it. He was the embodiment of tall, dark and movie star handsome. While his looks and his stature were impressive, it was his very being to which people responded.

Butch has been gone for 33 years and I still dream of him often, but not with regret. In my dreams I see him in present day, as I imagine his life would have been. It is not sorrow, or loss that I feel as I awaken. Those feelings have been washed away by whatever power that allows me to rejoice in the only emotion that holds meaning, gratitude.

I’m grateful to Butch for taking time from his pursuit of pussy, and rebuilding his 55 Chevy, and working the break into the pier, and living life, to give a confused and frightened kid a lasting and desperately needed reason for hope.


2meets2 58M/60F

1/27/2007 5:33 am

that was really well written.
you brought Butch to life for us.

good luck to you

the cunning linguist


Steel_Legs 59M/F

9/22/2006 5:18 pm

    Quoting playrigal:
    I am really moved by this post. The connections we make can never be broken, even with death. Thank you for sharing your "hope".
I was surprised that so few people understood what I was trying to say as the point of "Ode to Butch." I am not surprised that you are one of the very few, here and other places, who recgonized that hope was the message.
Thank you,
Steel


deliciousngood 64F
1666 posts
9/6/2006 9:21 am

THe cords that connect us to a person never leave us...we can soar back to that time on them, and they can also tug on our hearts! But leave us? NO the won't ever do that!

Namaste!

Alice


Wyldtyme2nite 45M/46F
853 posts
8/28/2006 2:13 am

    Quoting Steel_Legs:
    Wyldtyme2nite,
    Thank you for reading "Od to Butch; a somewhat long blog and true story that may come close to communicating how you are feeling.

    Please remember that we do have a choice. I know it may not seem like to now, but not all people who lose a loved one are committed to a life of pain and grief.

    The message in "Od to Butch" is one of hope. I truly hope you are able to choose to find a place for the pain you are feeling. It will not be easy, (as you surely know), but very few things that really matter are easy.

    All the best,

    Steel
No need for an apology. Your message is well received. I do see life different from others. I do not worry about the mortgage, dont get me wrong we pay it, but its not the top priority in my life. Living and letting those around me know how much they mean to me is of the utmost importance. Sometime the many in the world take for granted and forget. I have learned that those like ourselves who have lost a sibling or loved one tend to try and maximize life when ever time allows us that luxury. And while I do there are moments like the day of birth, day of death or xmas or new years that highten the pain of the void left behind. But you deal with it, you allow your moment to grief and you live your life to the fullest. It was after reading your tribute that it dawned on me why I was upset and miserable this week. I thought it was illness and stress and fatigue, but as it turns out it was my repression of her birthday. For that I am grateful to you and legs. Thanks to both of you I discovered the true nature of my meloncholy. So thanks again. I am glad I was sent your blog.


Steel_Legs 59M/F

8/27/2006 11:26 pm

    Quoting Wyldtyme2nite:
    Legs sent me to this post after the comment I left on her blog. I too lost a brother and recently a best friend who was like a sister to me. I just live day to day and learn to live with the pain and void. Its the lesson I came away with after talking to many that have lost a sibling. One who was my mentor and grade school tutor, Who passed away in 2002, had lost her brother 52 years earlier. Whenever she spoke of him, her eyes would moisten. That to me was a clear indication that you never forget. Yes you do remember the good times which are many but you tend to also focus on the void and pain brought on by their absence. That is what I have realized you learn to live with. In the case of my mentor I hope there is a heaven so she can finally be reunited with her brother.
Wyldtyme2nite,
Thank you for reading "Od to Butch; a somewhat long blog and true story that may come close to communicating how you are feeling.

Please remember that we do have a choice. I know it may not seem like to now, but not all people who lose a loved one are committed to a life of pain and grief.

The message in "Od to Butch" is one of hope. I truly hope you are able to choose to find a place for the pain you are feeling. It will not be easy, (as you surely know), but very few things that really matter are easy.

All the best,

Steel


Wyldtyme2nite 45M/46F
853 posts
8/26/2006 11:33 am

Legs sent me to this post after the comment I left on her blog. I too lost a brother and recently a best friend who was like a sister to me. I just live day to day and learn to live with the pain and void. Its the lesson I came away with after talking to many that have lost a sibling. One who was my mentor and grade school tutor, Who passed away in 2002, had lost her brother 52 years earlier. Whenever she spoke of him, her eyes would moisten. That to me was a clear indication that you never forget. Yes you do remember the good times which are many but you tend to also focus on the void and pain brought on by their absence. That is what I have realized you learn to live with. In the case of my mentor I hope there is a heaven so she can finally be reunited with her brother.


GoddessOfTheDawn 105F
11240 posts
8/26/2006 2:16 am


very powerful, and yes, you were both lucky to have each other in your lives....

you've created some gud memoriez together


Steel_Legs 59M/F

8/21/2006 9:23 pm

    Quoting MischiefSprite:
    I am very touched by this piece. Thank you for sharing Butch with us. I particularly connected with the image of him crying while dressing in his uniform; that is a very poignant detail. Although I have never had a brother, two nephews who are separated from me by a mere 5 years age-wise have served in that role in my life. Both were in the first Desert Storm; inevitably, both were changed by that experience forever, so I understand Butch's pain that day...and also appreciate the honor he demonstrated.
MischiefSprite,
Thanks for letting me know that you were touched by Ode to Butch. If the real pleasure of reading is to experience an emotion the author is trying to create within you, then the real pleasure of writing is to help others feel something through your words.

When a person loses someone very close to them it seems that finding a path through the pain can be a lifelong struggle. Some people still hurt so badly they cannot imagine ever feeling "right" again. I wrote this for my step mother (her version is edited), who carries the weight of Butch's death to this day. I wanted her to feel some sense of hope. If anyone else can feel some hope in these words, so much the better.

Steel


Steel_Legs 59M/F

8/21/2006 9:05 pm

    Quoting legsallthewayup:
    A powerful piece of personally penned prose my darling, I feel your pain and am glad to see your tribute to your late brother in here. We could be twins. ......

    while it is horribly sad that it's over, you were awfully blessed that he happened.

    as the years go by and the memory of the minute details of our lost loved ones fades, pieces like this, and the stuff I wrote about my brother, will always keep the feelings and the memory of them sharp and clear..
Thank you gorgeous,

I appreciate that you took the time to read this and comment on it, when I know you read it as I wrote it several months ago. And, a compliment to my writing, coming from you, is very treasured. I know you don't hand them out to make someone feel good, or with any expectation of quid pro quo. It's one of the many parts of you I admire and respect, (some of the other parts we can talk about in private - ok?).
The Steel in your Legs (and happy to be),
Lee


MischiefSprite 53F
334 posts
8/21/2006 8:03 am

I am very touched by this piece. Thank you for sharing Butch with us. I particularly connected with the image of him crying while dressing in his uniform; that is a very poignant detail. Although I have never had a brother, two nephews who are separated from me by a mere 5 years age-wise have served in that role in my life. Both were in the first Desert Storm; inevitably, both were changed by that experience forever, so I understand Butch's pain that day...and also appreciate the honor he demonstrated.


legsallthewayup 54F  
37 posts
8/20/2006 9:31 pm

A powerful piece of personally penned prose my darling, I feel your pain and am glad to see your tribute to your late brother in here. We could be twins. ......

while it is horribly sad that it's over, you were awfully blessed that he happened.

as the years go by and the memory of the minute details of our lost loved ones fades, pieces like this, and the stuff I wrote about my brother, will always keep the feelings and the memory of them sharp and clear..


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