by Clark Wilson
If you read this, and know someone who struggles with depression, try to help them.
Buster sat splay legged on the sofa, the shotgun sitting beside him, bottle of whiskey in his left hand, a pencil in his right, the crumpled piece of paper lying on the arm of the sofa. Buster put the bottle to his lips, as he read the letter from the doctor.
Patient shows signs of deterioration of the lumbar region of the spine. Due to the rapidness of deterioration, it is the recommendation of the physician, that the patient be placed on permanent disability.
Buster had no need to read further. In the 2 sentences he read, he knew all he would ever need to know. Buster was a proud man. He had always worked hard and provided well for his family. Being a mechanic, Buster would not be able to do the work that he so loved anymore, due to the problem with his back. The last 10 years had not been kind to Buster. In 1963, Buster lost the love of his life to cancer. He had to endure watching her wither away to nothingness, her body sinking in on itself, in the bed of their family home. Finally, the cancer overtook her like a swarm of locusts, and she succumbed to it, leaving Buster to raise their 2 young daughters alone. For 5 years, Buster endured for his daughters, working hard to raise them properly and trying to teach them to be young women.
In the fall of 1967, the oldest daughter, Cora, became pregnant in her senior year of high school. When Buster found out, he was both angry and hurt. In that day and age, a young woman who became pregnant out of wedlock, was looked upon as a tramp. Cora was forced to drop out of school, and Buster was once again left to endure both the shame and ridicule of the community.In May of 1968, Buster’s grandson was born, and Buster couldn’t have been a more proud grandfather. He loved the boy dearly, and spent as much time as possible with him. He could still remember taking the boy for his first haircut, and taking him out to buy him Orange Push-Up’s as a treat. The two had a special bond, and always would.
Buster’s drinking problem also increased in 1968. He drank daily, and most of the time became so inebriated, that he would pass out on the bed, fully clothed. His daughters worried about his drinking, but there was nothing they could do. In 1970, Cora met and married the man that would become her son’s father. Buster was happy for Cora, and glad that she had met someone who would take care of her and his grandson.
Buster’s drinking continued to worsen. The loss of his wife and the shame of his oldest daughter had taken their toll on his mental state. He turned more and more to alcohol, as a means of coping with everything. By March of 1973, Buster stayed intoxicated most of the time. He saw the doctor in March, due to his health deteriorating, and after his doctor’s visit, was given a copy of the report by his physician. This last blow to Buster’s manhood was more than he could bear. His drinking increased even further, and he could not even be able to make it home sometimes. On May 30, 1973, Buster went to the home of one of his friends. The friend wasn’t home at the time, but Buster had a key and let himself in. He brought with him only two items, the bottle of whiskey and the report from the doctor. Buster sat crying for some time, drinking and reading the report over and over again. Finally, his spirit broken, Buster took a shotgun from a rack, and setting it beside him on the sofa, drank the last of the whiskey. He looked at the note one last time, dropped it and the pencil onto the floor beside the sofa, and lay down. Pulling the gun up by the barrel, Buster put the end in his mouth, stretched out his hand to the trigger and squeezed.
On June 2, 1973, the 5 year old boy stood in front of the closed casket, not understanding why he couldn’t see his grandfather anymore, but missing him already, as he would miss him the rest of his days.