If I had a dollar for every time an adult in my life said this when I was growing up, I would have had my college education paid for! Sounds snarky, but I felt this way a lot. As an adult, truly this is valid but there is more to it than bearing crosses. As we move through this journey, I do believe that God gives us people in our lives at just the right time.
This time of the year, I think of a special character in my life who appeared from a very young age until I was a grown up. I thank God for him and if I can help people like my dear friend Butch, I will have accomplished a lot here on earth. You see, Butch was a rodeo clown and deep down I now know that he was an angel sent from God who helped more than just me in this thing we call life.
This little brown eyed girl did not realize just how important Butch would be to her. From the first memory at about age four, I loved to watch Butch put shoes on horses and listen to him tell me stories about the rodeo. I remember his beautiful mom who had the most gorgeous red hair I had ever seen! The childhood memories are sketchy, I do remember that an awful accident took Butch’s beautiful mom off to heaven. That was that, I was about 10 I suppose. As the years passed, I thought often of Butch and his family, but then life was moving forward for me too.
Speeding forward in time, I reconnected with Butch when I moved back to my community. I was in a crowd of people at an auction when I heard a booming voice, “Is that Merry Sunshine with the big brown eyes?” I turned to see my hero, Butch! I had to process, the man I saw was in a wheel chair, both of his legs were gone and his eyesight too. Surely, this was not the big robust man I knew as a child. Yes, it was, Butch filled me in on his life. A fact I did not know was that Butch had juvenile diabetes. The disease had taken a toll on him. By the time he was 30 years old, he lost his right leg and shortly after, the second leg had to also be removed. Things health wise quickly deteriorated and caused him to lose his eye site. What a lot to process!
I myself was wallowing in self-pity. I had been married for 7 years, 7 years of verbal and physical abuse and two children to look after. I often felt so alone, like I was the only one on the planet with problems. What timing to reconnect with Butch. I went home after that initial meeting and realized I had a lot to be thankful for! This was just the beginning of a wonderful relationship between Butch and me.
Since Butch had so many health issues, a lot of our contact was through phone calls. I have to admit, just as I was at the end of my rope, weather it was issues with the pending divorce, a child trying my patience to the limit or the verbal abuse my Dad dished out on a daily basis, Butch knew when I needed a phone call. I would pick the phone up and Butch would try to play some sort of prank on me, things like, “Ma’am, could you go check to see if your refrigerator is running? I just saw it go past my window, you better catch it!” I would laugh and laugh. As time went on, I trusted Butch and asked for advice. I learned that his Dad (I have a vague memory of this man, what I do remember was that he scared me, never hurt me, but I minded my manners in his presence) was meaner than a rattle snake. Butch also seemed to know that my Dad was not very kind to me and he let me know that he was sorry that my Dad would say such awful things to me. Common ground had a way of consoling my sadness. I always thought that the harsh words were because I asked for it for just being me, turns out, that was not the case. I in turn felt bad and told Butch so that I did not realize how awful his Dad was to him.
Beyond my world, Butch spent his day reaching out to others who needed a little cheering up. He volunteered to check on people who had been in the hospital and the staff knew they had no one to check up on them to be sure they were OK. Occasions like Mother’s Day, Butch called everyone on the list (including Merry Sunshine) and wished them a happy day. I am still amazed at just how many people Butch touched with his phone calls. Sometimes, I long for a call just to hear his voice and the laughter that would happen when he did call me.
As I sat at my desk one day, the phone rang and it was Butch’s wife. “Merry, I have something to tell you, I took Butch to Omaha and he did not make it.”
That was that.
I sat silent for a while and then I began to be angry, “God, how could you do this, I am not ready for Butch to leave!” Then I realized, there is a reason for this, God needed Butch in heaven, and I had learned so much from having Butch back in my life. Now, I need to be mindful to put a little Butch into my life, positive attitude, laughter and counting one’s blessings are the important things in this life.
We all go through stuff, some bad and some good, the important part is to help one another through this journey and walk as Jesus would like us to walk.