Monday, August 11, 2008

When Cameron Was In Egypt's Land . . .

Most of you reading this blog know me pretty well and a few of you knew my brother Cameron. That's Cam on the left and my big, gay brother, Big Gay Al on the right. Alan is a happily married heterosexual and father of two. Just to be clear.

Cam died nine years ago today from brain cancer. (posted on Aug 11, but written on Aug 9th) So let me tell you all a real quick story about Cammie Poo that makes me happy. Just for fun and because it would bug him (it is my right as an older brother), for the rest of this entry I will refer to Cameron by an assortment of nicknames I had for him. Some make sense. Most of them don't.

The last eight months of Ben's life (again, nicknames) were an incredible illustration of how contented and hopeful and genuinely happy life can be under horrible, horrible circumstances. It's been almost a decade and
as gut wrenchingly painful as it was, I still look back at this eight month window as one of the happiest times of my life.

By early January of 1999, Cam was completely paralyzed only able to move his eye lids and the right corner of his mouth. He wasn't in a lot of pain (most of the time) but he did have to blink messages to us like "scratch my nose" and "who farted?" Cammie Cammie Meow Meow (to be said in a
Henrietta Pussycat voice) was the strength of the room. He was eager to lift the mood with his humor and willing to inspire others with his courage. He had made some significant progress and by about April, he could talk again, slowly. And he could move the right side of his body.

About this time, I was home from BYU and my job that summer was to help take care of Billcakes. He would usually wake up about 11:00, eat some breakfast and we would sit around and make fun of crappy daytime TV. So it was pretty much like every other summer growing up, except I got
fly the airplane into the hanger.

One morning I came into his room and he appeared to be sleeping. I remember taking a bit of personal moment; looking at my brother lying
on a special air mattress that prevented bed sores, surrounded by posters and cards and photos of people that loved him and were praying for his recovery. There was one of those plastic hospital water bottles next to his bed as well as a large variety of prescription bottles on top of his clock radio. The late morning light was peering through the Aspen trees outside the window and the swamp cooler in the hallway made that crisp smell that I will always associate with the summers of my childhood. As I picked up some plates that were left over from the night before, Benny Boy, without opening his eyes, belts out in a loud baritone, "When Cameron was in Egypt's land. . . . let my Cameron go!"

That is, of course from
Cameron Frye of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. This is the closest thing I could find to a clip of that scene. It’s only audio, but the scene in the movie is of a guy who is quasi-sick in bed and pretty much recreates the moment I described above. It was a perfect reference at the perfect time and all for my entertainment. I lost it. It just may have been the funniest thing I have ever witnessed. Here I am having my own little profound moment and he affectionately shatters it with his pitch perfect levity. As if to say "Don't take things too seriously. It'll all be OK."

Here’s another quick movie reference he dropped that I just remembered. This was while he was very limited in his movement. While feeding him a specially requested
Granny B Pink Cookie, I asked if he would like some milk. With the deadpan expression that only a cancer patient can pull off he responded in his labored speech, "I'd rather have a beer." Then the right side of his mouth smiled. Now before my Mom reads this and freaks out; no, Cammie was not a beer drinkin' party guy. Who the hell would ever believe that? No, this is a quote from Billy Madison.

In these instances, Cam's goal wasn't just to get a laugh. It was that, but his real intent was much more selfless. He was trying to give the people he loved a little bit of happiness under terrible conditions. He saw the heartache in the eyes of his family and friends as they all tried their best to pretend things were fine. But Cameron would reach beyond any attempts to grasp for a protective facade. This was not denial. This was Cameron lifting the burden of the moment from our shoulders and letting us all go back to the way things were before all of this hell invaded our lives. In those moments, he wasn't a 17 year old kid who was being robbed of a lifetime of love and success and goodness. He was just my little brother who knew exactly how to make me laugh.

I love ya,
Crooked Nose.


Ramsey said...

Unfortunately I only just now found your blog. Your tribute to Cam puts a lot of things in perspective. I can still picture him behind the couch in your basement. Ha, what a guy.
Your other stuff. . . well my stomach hurts from laughing. You gotta come to Denver and get some free dentistry and just hang out. Hope you're doing well. -Ram

BusterBluth52 said...


You're in Denver? When did that happen? Great to hear from you.

Yes, it was always fun to throw Cam behind the couch and beat the hell out of him. All done with love, of course.

Gregg said...

I want free dentistry too!!

BusterBluth52 said...

gregg, you just want nitros. actually homer, so do i.