2/2/2018 Tonight, Dawn & I paid respects to the family of a very dear friend who passed last Sunday; Billy Burcham. Billy was a 2nd father to me. 7 year’s ago, he became a devoted friend when I struggled to recover from alcoholism.
I don’t talk about it a lot anymore. But had not God’s miraculous mercy & few very special friends, been so close and committed; I truly might not have survived that season of my life. I wasn’t a bad guy. I was just a sick guy. The Hurt from painful experiences earlier in my life had left a festering sore on the inside of me. So, one thing’s for sure; except for the amazing Grace & these wonderful friends during that time in my life, I would not be the good man I am today!
I remember Years ago sensing a deep need, I specifically asked Billy if I could adopt him as a 2nd Father figure. And he said “sure”; with that warm grin that was his steady trademark. So, I did.
So in the following years, Whenever something was burdening me and I didn’t feel like I could share it with anyone else, Billy’s phone would ring. And he would always make time for me. This was a Priceless gift that I can never repay, except for trying to do the same, for another soul or two, along the way.
Now that he is gone, I will look back on the hours Billy & I spent tinkering on things together, for my remaining time. He did so much for me. He helped me garden. He taught me a good deal about small engine mechanics. When I ran my tree lot, he helped me in all kinds of ways. One year he gave me his travel trailer, to keep me warm while I worked through the season. We doctored and home-built a work trailer together, for me to use. In fact, we were always working on some kind of repair and fix-up project.
Billy knew that I wanted to stay busy. We also knew staying busy kept my mind clean. So he helped me do both. Billy seemed to know that some things were troubling me deep inside & that I needed to talk about them. And he always had an understanding ear and genuinely caring way, to offer. His ears were big but his lips were tight. I knew I could share anything on my heart and soul with him and nobody but God would hear about it. This confidence was a powerful healing Force, in my life.
It was good to pay my respects to Connie and the family tonight. However, I was glad I kept myself from crying, while there with them, for their sake. I am a man that rarely cries but I felt it would be unhealthy not to, tonight. I felt like I would be hard and bitter, if I didn’t allow myself to feel this grief. So, Dawn got an earful of my blubbering tonight.
While Billy taught me a lot about fixing other things, the thing he was the best at fixing, was the soul of a man. In his simple, country ways, he had great wisdom in doing this. I will miss: him taking me to see his bull. I will miss: him Making sure I wasn’t drinking any “Rub-a-dub.” And I will miss: him Showing me how to repair all kinds of things myself. But mostly: I will miss the hours of just showing me how to live, and most especially, him being my genuine friend. He shared as much with me, as I did with him. And I will always treasure these fireside chats. I deeply needed his guidance, humor, wisdom and down to earth way of thinking.
It is an ironic but not so Funny thing, how the sickness leading to his death seemed to be kin, with what was happening to me.. I had recently spent some time with him 3 or 4 weeks ago and we decided, we were overdue to get back together soon.
About the same time, shortly thereafter, we both came down with the flu, although I don’t think we knew it about each other. Then, both of us had our flu turn into pneumonia.. I will always remember this time, as the most bitter sick, of my whole life thus-far. Obviously Billy was struggling at the same time with this sickness and I didn’t know it.
Because of his age and other health struggles, Billy didn’t survive. The very day I went back to the hospital with pneumonia, was the same day that I found out Billy had been sick, and was in a coma. I was worried about him and then found out, the very next day he died.
So I really didn’t get to say goodbye to Billy. But in a way, it’s ok. Because our relationship was in good repair. And knowing the heart of my wonderful friend, I am absolutely confident that he is now, in the Special care of Jesus. And is now receiving the joyful reward due a good man. A man who spent so much of his life rescuing and helping other men, find their way back to honest acceptance, good & down-home values and simple spiritual service.
I never did figure out why he often called himself the Reverend Billy Burcham, so often with me. I can hear him say it, like he was sitting right beside me, right now. So while I’m not completely sure, I think it’s because Billy knew who he really was. Billy sensed that He He had a special, settled kinship with God, His Higher Power. And he was clear that this goodness was solid.
In most ways I think Billy was truly humble. But perhaps in this one way he was proud; that he knew he was a good guy. Cause he certainly was. I’m glad I got to know this good man. And I’m also glad that before he left here, he helped teach me to be one too.
So when I think about Billy, I will think about me and him working together, teaching me farming or some other part of healthy living, sitting on the back of the truck, shooting the bull, swapping stories, laughing and grinning and being the best of friends.