Me & my Uncle Butch, 1972

Butch

Yesterday, my dad told me that my Uncle Butch had died in a car accident. Butch had just two weeks earlier bought a new truck and wanted to take it for some drives to get acquainted with it. Nothing unusual there, except that he lives in rural Minnesota and his part of the state hasn’t seen temperatures above freezing in many, many weeks.

The accident happened on a stretch of highway near town early in the evening. According to Dad, the truck must have flipped several times. Butch was dead on the scene. I was in a server room trying to troubleshoot a problem that I am barely qualified to correct when Dad called me.

Dad was somewhere in between dis-belief, grief, anger, and familial duty when we talked. He needed to contact family. There are Butch’s other nephew and niece, and Butch and Dad’s sister. That had to be done before he could even begin to sort through his own feelings. Today, I suppose that is what he is starting.

Me? I cried out in that server closet. Quietly because there were still other employees onsite. Then I called my girlfriend for some comfort and distraction. Then I pressed on through the problem. If it wasn’t for the client calling me to send me home, I’d probably be in that server closet now banging my head against that ridiculously stupid problem. Today, I begin my processing with this.

My Uncle Butch was a sweet man. He didn’t score high in smarts, but he did have a great deal of compassion. Not too long after I was born, my Dad started a second tour in Vietnam. Mom and I moved into my grandparents house in Chicago. Butch helped Mom to get acquainted with the city. He distracted her from the absence of my Dad. Made her laugh when it was tough.

I always looked up to him. Literally. Butch was the tallest member of our family. Easily six-foot-four. As a toddler, I’d latch onto his leg and sit on his foot. He’d lumber around the basement of the house on 77th and Polaski while I giggled. My first encounter with video games was because of him. He bought a Pong game. I still remember the dial game controllers and soft white-on-gray video.

Butch was never very good with money. His sister, my Aunt Wanda, balanced his checkbook and helped him manage his finances for many years. These tasks were later taken up by his niece Tracey, and my Dad. His presence in our lives taught us that we should and needed to watch out for each other. His easygoing and compassionate nature was the point where our frustration would end. My Uncle Butch was the person around whom we exercised the adage that “family takes care of family.” By seeing how the rest of my family helped and protected him, I know unequivocally that they would do the same for me.

My last conversation with him was on Christmas Eve. He was spending the afternoon with the other bachelors in the family, Todd and Dad. We didn’t talk about anything memorable, but we did laugh and share a few minutes of the day-to-day with each other. The content may have been sparse on substance, but it is still invaluable to me. I have so many of these brief moments with Butch.

I’ll miss you Uncle Butch.

Love, Lil’ Ted.

New Beginnings

Years ago, I set out to start a blog that showcased my writing, photography, and artwork. It also was to be a place for me to share the items of Internet ephemera that tickled my fancy. In many ways, the site has been successful at its goals. Where it has failed is in regularity of posts and consistency of content presentation. I want 2014 to change that.

Today, I renew my dedication to this weblog and its purpose. Going forward, past posts will be edited for consistent presentation and content. THois means that some old posts are to be archived or deleted outright. Future and past posts will be organized more clearly. Galleries will see a refresh and organization, too. Finally, the site will get a facelift.

Most importantly, I want to enjoy this enough to want to keep posting to the site and hopefully keep you folks coming back for a read.