Two years ago we went to the 4th of July Parade in Sugar Creek. I always enjoy the old time parade and they still throw candy to the kids (things are slow to change in "The Creek"). This year was a great day and we watched from the sidewalk of a duplex on Sterling. Just as the parade was about over, a man in the group next to us got a phone call that really upset him. He began shouting and crying very loudly. He kept screaming "No Tyler, NO!" He dropped the phone and his lawn chair and began laying on the ground pounding his fists and crying madly. I wasn't sure what was going on. Wesley was very upset and began crying also and we got our chairs and headed home. Wesley kept asking me throughout the day why the man was so upset. The only answer I had was that he had got a phone call with some bad news. Later in the day I got a call from Grandpa John that shed more light, "Did you hear about Buddy's wife and daughter?" he asked. He filled me in and I watched the news and learned what was going on. The man next to us at the Parade was a family member who was there to watch Buddy riding his scooter in the Parade. On the other end of the phone was Tyler Bronson, Buddy's stepson. The police came and got Buddy out of the Parade and told him he needed to go home. He shut off his Harley Topper and went back to Belton to a day that changed his life forever.
I had known who Buddy was in the car scene for years, but never really talked to him. His case made national news because of the status of the person that killed his wife and daughter. After a few months I friended him on Facebook and we exchanged posts.
Then in January of 2012 my mother committed suicide. It was a very bad scene and left me with many questions and mixed feelings on the whole subject. There were people at her memorial service who were fighting for their lives to battle cancer and other diseases and here my mother ended her own life in a final act of childish self centeredness. I felt sorry for people like Carol Whittle, who made it to the service and later passed from cancer that she fought to the bitter end, life is not fair.
Buddy was also at the Memorial for mom. I reached out to him and asked him if things like this made him angry? I wondered if he saw someone who was so unappreciative of life and casually threw away the future and made him wish his wife and daughter were given the same choice. He told me, "Jeremy, this is a crazy world and you can't figure out why things happen. It will drive you crazy trying to make sense of it. Just keep on going and living your life."
So I did, and we kept up on Facebook and in person at various events. I met him for lunch recently in the West Bottoms and we discussed my upcoming trip to Austin, Texas for the Lone Star Roundup. He was in good spirits and he assured me we would make it. He told me of a time where he decided not to drive his Studebaker to a car show in Salina, Kansas because it was far away and very hot. He was going down the highway in his late model daily driver and came upon a full-haired gentleman piloting his Caddy-powered '34 Ford down the highway with all the windows down. "There was John rolling down the highway in a car that you couldn't find a part for in a 200 mile radius with no air conditioning enjoying the day. If John doesn't give a shit then neither should we. I have driven one of my old cars to every show since," he said.
During the Lone Star Roundup we exchanged various messages as I told him of a Studebaker passing us on the highway (we were going 80) and how much fun we were having. Then his messages stopped. I didn't think much of it until the next morning when I saw everyone's comments on Facebook and how Buddy had been killed, just like his wife and daughter were, the night before. I was quite upset to learn this, but there was nothing I could do.
I went to the funeral and paid my respects. I enjoyed knowing Buddy, and will always remember him. I will also try to not spend so much time analyzing life. Sometimes you just need to get into your old car and go down the highway.
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