Things in Erin’s Head
THE TALE OF SEELEY BURDETTE
Seeley lived in a small beach town in Southern California. An artist at heart, he created abstract mobiles from old stuffed animals, had a litter box for a ghost cat, complete with packing peanut poopy. He made homemade birthday cards for his friends. He was intelligent and worked daily. Perhaps in his prime he worked “hard,” but he was frequently accused of “hardly working.”
Seeley was content in his ways, he had friends who loved him, and was always quick with a joke (and I’d imagine also “to light up your smoke,”) and yes… there was always someplace that he’d rather be (damn, thank you Billy Joel for THAT!).
The orchestrator of fun, he was the mastermind behind martinis and chili on the first rainy day of the year. He could be counted on for a lunch date when you were feeling sad or lonely (and never once tried to take advantage). Every new person he met received the same offer, “If you name your first born child after me, I’ll pay for their college education.” It never came to fruition, but I believe Seeley Burdette was telling the truth. I believe Seeley loved the idea of family. I believe Seeley loved love.
He was an adventurer, travelling the world. He explored art, museums, different cultures and food. He’d return from the farthest corners of the earth with trinkets for the ladies, to share a taste of where he’d been. Not only for us, but I think for him. For his retirement he held big dreams of exploration. He wanted to travel freely, widely, and with no abandon. And he deeply wanted an intimate companion to share it all with.
Then he met Gemma.
Gemma was lovely, several years his junior, with glistening almond eyes, and a stern line to her lips. The courtship was swift and Seeley and Gemma were soon wed.
The brightness that was Seeley slowly began to dim.
Always first to crack a joke, his sharp tongue kept him in a habitual state of trouble, he began to fall silent. Theme lunches with the ladies subsided. He kept to himself more often than not.
But retirement was looming; and Seeley was hopeful to begin the life he had dreamed. But Gemma was a nervous traveler. She didn’t care for flying, boats made her queasy, and her 4″ heels weren’t conducive to museum exploration. I imagine the words of his daggered tongue turning inward and the art fading from his heart. Mere months after his retirement his tongue betrayed him one the final time. The cells began to mutate and the cancer silenced his voice forever.
The tale of Seeley Burdette is part truth, part fiction, and part pure imagination. I don’t know what his inner thoughts were. I didn’t know his wife. I heard the hushed rumors and I know what I believed I saw. I know how I felt.
Bob was my friend. He was at my home for Thanksgiving dinner. We spent the Y2K New Years Eve together. He made me birthday cards with ridiculously silly poems (the image above is the cover of one of the flip books he made me). The hanging mobile he created? It was from my childhood stuffed animals (I posted that pic on my socials). He brought humor into my life. Laughter, joy, and creativity. He respected me.
He was my friend.
When I was not allowed to attend his Celebration of Life, it broke my heart. It was nothing I had done, per se, something about it being an “employee only event,” and there was a “head count,” and so no, Erin could not attend. I knew I could grieve him on my own. I knew I held memories of him in my heart, but to be shunned from sharing those experiences and laughter and joy… well… it hurt me. Fourteen years later it still stings.
I don’t think about Bob often. I don’t think I’ve thought about him in several years. Sometimes I think he comes to me when I’m on the precipice of big change. Balancing on the edge of the cliff, wondering whether or not to jump.
I remember his passing feeling like a lesson unfolding for me:
A man with a dream and desire in his heart.
Put off until… later.
Waiting for another.
And it didn’t turn out as he planned.
A life cut short.
It’s a grim tale, the Tale of Seeley Burdette. Yet honestly, I don’t know if he had any regrets at all. I don’t know whose soul needed to hear this tale, but as with many of my stories, I was called to share it for a reason, even if I don’t know what the reason is.
Take the leap. Live today. Live for love.
Because it’s all about love…
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