Sunday, September 15, 2019


Day before yesterday was the 58th anniversary of my marriage to Tom. Yes, Friday the 13th! How fitting. We were not married on a Friday, but every so often the anniversary lands on the Friday the 13th.

The wedding anniversary was one of the firsts since Tom died with more firsts to come. Though I tried to act as if it was just another day, I did not succeed, for the occasion was much on my mind. It goes without saying that it was a sad and not a happy anniversary.

When I wrote Tom's obituary, I did the math, subtracting 1961 from 2019, and said, "Tom is survived by his wife of 58 years...", when the truth was that I was Tom's wife while he was living for only 57½ years. When I realized my mistake, I was amused for a bit and grateful for the lighter moment. There's no correcting the mistake; it's all over the internet in perpetuity. Whatever. A half-year mistake doesn't matter, because we were together for a long, long time.

My brother-in-law Frank and my sister Gayle are on either side of Tom and me.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019


The other evening, I watched the first three episodes of To Serve Them All My Days. We watched the series when it was shown on Masterpiece Theater I believe in the 1980s. I loved the series then, and I loved seeing it again. The performances, especially those of John Duttine, as the young soldier, and Frank Middlemass as the headmaster of the school, are excellent.

David Powlett-Jones, a young Welsh soldier who was wounded in the leg and suffering from shell shock during WW I has been released from the military hospital and sent to apply for a position as a teacher in a boys public school in Devon.

David was promoted to 2nd lieutenant up from the ranks because great numbers of young officers were killed in the war. He's hesitant about teaching in a school with upper class students because he's from a coal mining family in Wales.

13 episodes of the series were filmed, and I can't wait to watch the rest of them.

The story is taken from a novel of the same name by R F Delderfield. After seeing the series, I read the book, but I found it long, tedious, and quite disappointing. The story improved with the cutting that was necessary to film a TV series.

UPDATE: I've now seen the entire series and thoroughly enjoyed every episode, including two that were not part of the Netflix series but are available on YouTube. If I had known the entire series was on YouTube, I'd have watched earlier.

Sunday, August 18, 2019


Since Tom died, I am not myself. I hardly know who I am. After being one of a pair for so many years, I seem to have lost my identity. When I fill out forms, I check off "single" rather than "married" now, and that doesn't seem right. I have also joined the ranks of widows, a group in which I do not yet feel at home. I go through the motions of living everyday life, but I feel like a displaced person in my own life and my own house. Even so, I want to stay in my house as long as possible. The thought of moving is quite daunting.

I've never had difficulty being alone. In fact, time alone has always been a necessity for me, even when I had very little of it. I remember retreating to the bathroom when Tom was home in the evening, and the children were young. I'd lock the door and spend as much time as possible in the bathtub. That was my time alone to recoup and recover.

Tom and I shared interests, but we both had different interests, too, and went our separate ways to follow the interests that differed. Yet, all the while Tom was the strong thread that ran though my life even when we were physically separated, and I knew we would be together again. Now he's gone forever. I'm not drowning in sorrow missing Tom. I have my sad moments, but, the truth is I'm not quite as sad as I think I should be, and I feel a bit guilty about it.

To complicate matters, when I stopped going to church several years ago, I gradually lost my religion. By religion I mean I lost faith in church and Christian denominations. Then I lost my faith in God. I say "lost" because not having faith is a loss. My faith was a comfort to me, and it left me at a most inconvenient time.

It is said that faith is a gift. Job said,"Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." What's not there is not there, and wishing or saying it's there won't make it so. At the moment, I don't feel like blessing God, if there is a God. I don't call myself an atheist, because I have no certainty that God or a First Cause of some sort does not exist. I assume I now fall into another unfamiliar group of agnostics.

Saturday, August 10, 2019


I Want You Back!

Tom, I want you back! Not sick,
Not in pain, not far too thin.
I want you back as you were,
Not young, in your fine maturity,
In the time before the cancer,
Uninvited, came and took you away.

(June Butler 4-30-2019)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


As I may have mentioned before, I sometimes read more than one book at a time. On second thought, who remembers what I may have mentioned before on my blog? Since I post seldom and irregularly now, I probably have very few readers. Along with books, I read magazines and newspapers. My present reading includes four books, one of which is a book of essays by Marilynne Robinson, a favorite novelist of mine. Robinson writes beautifully, but her writing is dense with meaning and demands attention. Every word counts, so don't expect a quick read.

I've read and enjoyed all four of her novels, a couple more than once. The titles are Housekeeping, Gilead, Home, and Lila. I fell in love with the character Jack in Home. He's flawed and causes hurt to people who love him, but I sense an innate goodness and sweetness in Jack that is, sadly, all too often overcome by the flaws in his character.

My friend Susan sent me two collections of Robinson's essays, most of which originated as lectures at universities. The titles are The Givenness of Things and What Are We Doing Here? Both collections are excellent. The latter collection includes an essay on Barack Obama and his time in office that was first published in The Nation.

The essay on Obama is brilliant and insightful and holds a place as the best writing on the former president that I have read to date. Below is an excerpt from the essay on Obama. You can read the entire essay at the link above.
I have had a singular relationship with President Obama. I cannot imagine a greater honor than his having called me his friend, but if I call our relationship more than meaningful acquaintance, I might suggest a degree of personal familiarity that I cannot claim. We have had conversations. His expressed interest in my work has had a marked effect on my career, very marked in Europe because he is held in such high regard there. The association of his name with mine abroad has let me see him as he is seen where the miasmas of polemic do not obscure him: as a gracious, good, and brilliant man. There, he is a vindication of American democracy, while here, every means has been tried to deny the public the consequences of having chosen him.

Monday, May 27, 2019


On Saturday evening, I watched John Huston's film "The Dead", the last movie he directed. The film is based on James Joyce's short story of the same title in his collection of stories, "Dubliners". Then, on Sunday morning, I watched the movie again because it is wonderful with excellent performances by the actors in the film.

"The Dead" is a family affair with daughter Angelica in a starring role as Gretta, a guest at a dinner party in Dublin, and son Tony Huston as the adapter of the story into the script for the movie. Many of the spoken lines in the film are taken verbatim from the dialogue of the characters in Joyce's story. In my opinion, the story is a masterpiece, and John Huston honors the brilliance of the story in his film adaptation.

Huston was ill with heart trouble and on oxygen during the filming which was completed in April 1987. He died in August of the same year before the film was released.

After I watched the movie twice, I wanted to read the story again. Ah, regrets! I once owned a copy of "Dubliners", but I gave it away. I found the story online, but now I want to reread all the stories in the collection.

Gabriel (Donal McCann), Gretta's husband in the film, is much struck when his wife stops on the stairway as they are leaving to listen raptly to a song, "The Lass of Aughrim", sung by another guest, tenor (Colm J. Meaney).

I searched for the song on YouTube and found this version by Fran O'Rourke, accompanied by John Feeley on James Joyce's restored guitar!

Monday, April 29, 2019


St John's Episcopal Church in Thibodaux, Louisiana, knows how to do a wonderful funeral. The service and music on April 6, 2019, were lovely. The organist, LaDonna, played both organ and piano beautifully. Fr Stephen's sermon was perfectly suited to the occasion, especially so, since the first time he met Tom was when he was in the hospital and most certainly not at his (Tom's) best. Nevertheless, Stephen captured the essence of Tom's humanity in the reflections on the meaning of his life and death for all of us who knew him.

Thanks to all the people at St John who contributed to make the service and reception following a comfort to me and my family and all who attended. The flowers were gorgeous. The two large arrangements of white roses, baby's breath, and greenery on the altar were moved to the scatter garden after the service. In the Episcopal church, with exceptions for funerals, only greenery is used on the altar during Lent. Along with Tom's picture and the urn holding his ashes, I took the small vase of flowers home with me. The scent of the white roses and another smaller vase with red roses filled the family room when I took them home.

Many thanks to all who were present at the visitation and funeral. While Tom was alive, I did not fully realize he touched and inspired so many throughout his life. It's bittersweet for me that only after Tom's gone do I understand the breath and strength of his friendships with people of different ages and how he will be missed.

Though I'd rather not end my post on Tom's funeral with regret, I'm at the end, and it is with a touch of regret.

Saturday, March 30, 2019


Obituary for Joseph Thomas Butler Jr.

Beloved husband, father, and grandfather, Joseph Thomas (Tom) Butler, Jr died peacefully on March 19, 2019. Tom fought a hard fight after treatment for cancer in 2017. He was born January 24, 1938, in White Castle, Louisiana, and lived in New Roads, Louisiana, in his childhood and youth.

Tom attended Louisiana State University where he received bachelor's and master's degrees. He then attended Southeastern Louisiana University and received another master's degree.

In 1969, Tom moved with his wife and three children to Thibodaux, Louisiana, to accept a position in the library at Nicholls State University, where he worked for 34 years. He was Associate Director when he retired from the Ellender Memorial Library.

Tom is survived by his wife of 58 years, June Barrosse Butler, originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, son Patrick and wife, Marlet, son Timothy and wife, Cindy, daughter Alison Butler Costanzo and fiancé, Frank DiVincenti, and six grandchildren, Joey Butler, Bryan Costanzo, Ashlynn Butler, Andrew Costanzo, William Costanzo, and Joshua Butler. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph Thomas Butler, Sr and Laura Janis Butler.

Tom's funeral service celebrating his life will be on Saturday, April 6, at 2PM, with visitation beginning at 1PM, at St John's Episcopal Church, 718 Jackson St, Thibodaux LA 70301. A reception in the church hall will follow the service.

The loves of Tom's life in addition to his family were gardening, fishing, and a small wooden boat museum, The Center For Traditional Louisiana Boat Building, established in the 1970s by Tom and John Rochelle, first at Nicholls State University and later in its own building in Lockport, Louisiana, on 202 Main Street. Tom served as director of the Center until very recently.

In lieu of flowers, tax-deductable donations may be sent to Friends for Traditional LA Boat Building, 202 Main Street, Lockport LA 70374.

Monday, January 21, 2019


So Long

so long
is in the song
and it's in the way you're gone
but it's like a foreign language
in my mind
and maybe I was blind
i could not see
and would not know
you're gone so long
so long.

(Langston Hughes)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019


My hope for 2019 and all the years that follow is for The Little Prince and his tender care for his small Asteroid 325 and his beloved rose to be a lesson for grown-ups and children on planet Earth. May we learn to tenderly care for all Earth's living inhabitants, and the land, water, and air that keep us alive.

Dougie MacLean's version of the auld song from Robert Burns' poem of the same title is my favorite. The lyrics are below.


Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 

And never brought tae mind? 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
And days of auld lang syne? 


For auld lang syne, my dear, 
For auld lang syne. 
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, 
For auld lang syne. 

We twa hae run aboot the braes, 
And pou’d the gowans fine; 
We’ve wander’d mony a weary fit, 
Sin' days of auld lang syne.


And we twa hae paidl’d i' the burn, 

Frae morning sun till dine; 
But seas between us braid hae roar’d 
Sin' days of auld lang syne. 


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere! 
And gie's a hand o’ thine! 
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught, 
For auld lang syne.

Chorus x 2 

(The following verse in Robert Burn's poem is not included in this version of the song.)

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp! 
And surely I’ll be mine! 
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, 
For auld lang syne.
 Edit: As one of my Facebook friends said, "...a cup o' kindness" may be the most important words in the song.