Posted by: deadmousediaries | September 28, 2011

Letting Go of My Very First Hero – a farewell from Mitchell Kyd

   My dad finally got to fly away on Tuesday. We had been clinging to his hand through the last of it until it occurred to me that he was a beautiful balloon tethered to a very long string, aching to get away; we were weighing him down.  He was so patient in waiting until we could finally let go. He had given us three weeks — an entire but only three weeks — since the day that he first complained of that dizziness and headache. How lucky are we?

   A week before he got sick, he had driven my mom to a town 40 miles away to pick out a flat screen TV, but not before he had done all his research, checked the prices, and compared the service contracts on all the best brands.

   “I’m just Jim,” he would say to anyone who tried to address him as Mr. Butts, or even James.  I’m sure the sales clerk at the flat screen TV store dealt with “just Jim” that day, too, because that was just my dad.

   My mom and I are now entangled in the mess the follows when a hole opens up and swallows a family.  If I had my way, that awful piece of legal paper would simply say this about his cause of death: “Used it up; wore it out, knew when to go so he got out.” 

   Any of you who have been reading my blog for any amount of time know that my dad has been a big part of many of my stories because he has been a huge, happy part of my life. (The Christmas Piece, A Scentimental Father’s Day Journey, Father’s Day: Gifts from Dad, etc.).  For those of you who didn’t know him personally, I can tell you that it is his blue eyes you see when you look at mine and it is his sense of humor that plays across the pages of my writing. To give you just one silly glimpse inside the man I’ve loved for 57 years, here’s a hospital story. 

   As one of his best nurses was getting him settled into his new room, she showed him how to use the call button to get her help. 

   “Jim, if you need anything at all, you just buzz me,” she said with an easy tone but deep sincerity. 

   “What if I get cold?” he asked, and I saw that devilish twinkle in those blue eyes.

   “You just call me and I’ll be here!” she smiled again. 

    “So what are you doing to do about that,” he baited. “Crawl in bed with me?” Now that was also my dad– and quite a joke for a man who still adored the woman he had married more than 60 years ago.

You can count on seeing some joy-filled reflections of him coming soon to this blog spot nearest you but for today, I am adding his obituary because so many of my regular readers have already heard this news. At the bottom you’ll also find a short poem called “Evenings at the Farm.”   I hope you’ll read it, too. 

   Yesterday on our way to make arrangements, two whitetails went loping across the corn fields in our plain view and then we spotted an eagle circling at the foot of the mountain. Between those two events, my daughter and I glanced out the car window at just the right moment to see the most amazing wreath of clouds perched on the mountains behind my parents’  farm.  I knew then that although my dad gotten his chance to fly away, he hadn’t ventured too far from us so soon.

   James “Jim” Butts passed away Tuesday, September 27, 2011 after a very brief illness. He had already celebrated 91 years of a well-loved, well-worn, totally spent life that had collected no rust. Born in 1920, Jim lived through the Great Depression and helped support his parents and seven siblings in his early years doing orchard and construction work. He also served in the Civilian Conservation Corps and assisted in the building of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Jim was a Master Sergeant in the 99th Division Signal Corps during WWII and served in the Battle of the Bulge. Following his honorable discharge, he returned to his work at United Telephone where he retired as construction supervisor after 41 years. He had stayed connected with his work crew since that time.
An avid outdoorsman, Jim enjoyed a busy life on his farm for the past 30 years as a woodsman, woodworker, banjo player, arborist, cabinetmaker, problem solver, fixer and doer. He was preceded by three brothers and three sisters and is survived by one brother.
Jim was known for his sense of humor and enjoyment of people and conversation. He was also known as a gentleman with his curly white hair and dazzling blue eyes,  After more than 60 years of marriage, he still opened the car door for his wife and daughter who will miss him greatly.
He spent the last 24 years of his life as a grandfather and instilled his love of trees, mountains and wildlife in his grandson and granddaughter and shared these same interests with his son-in-law.
Private services will be held by the family to honor this life well-lived.

Evenings at the Farm

When the sun slides down

behind the mountain,

the barn light calls you home,

a warm and familiar homing beacon.

The smell of dinner cooking

wraps around you,

a welcomed hug after a long day

spent with strangers.

Steam rises from a boiling pot,

potatoes rattle their dimpled lid

demanding your wife and lover poke them,

an expert with the old black fork.

Green beans in the kettle,

and baked apples in a pan

bubble on the woodstove

answering your question: What’s for dinner?.

We always seem to blink,

miss the moment but catch the memory,

never quick enough to know

we see the last time coming.

No matter where you roam,

the smell of cinnamon and woodsmoke

will always take you back

to evenings at the farm.

Lucky  you.

Copyright 2011. Mitchell Kyd. All rights reserved.


  1. You have been in my thoughts the past several days. Please know that I will hold you and all your family in my prayers. Sending you a super big hug and wishes for strength and lots of warm memories to surround you.

  2. Thank you for sharing a bit of him with us. He sounds like a truly wonderful husband, father and grandfather. God bless you all. Love, Jill

  3. Oh, sweetheart, I’m so sorry. It doesn’t matter how old they–or you–are, you’re never ready to lose your mom and dad. I don’t know who wrote it but I know how true it is that “Inside every 70-year-old is a small child missing his mom.” Holding you close in thought … Lynn

  4. Thoughts and prayers are with you. Patty

  5. so warm , so precious are the memories, hang onto the memories, love jo

  6. THis is such a beautiful and moving tribute to a very special man. I felt like I knew him from your description. I am sure that everyone who did know him will never forget him. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  7. Lovely indeed for the great, lovely man who’s now flown away. Thank you for your sweet sharing.

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