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Ode to Michael T. and the Cutoff

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posted on Jun, 10 2012 @ 08:29 PM
Please start The Band's "Last Waltz" before you start reading this and let me paint you a picture.

Long ago - 2.5 years - I lived on the old Mississippi River. The one that existed before the Army Corps of Engineers and during the time that Mark Twain guided his riverboat. This particular section is now a lake named after the nearby town of Tunica, but to those who know, it is the Cutoff.

For ten years I lived two blocks from the lake and if I told you how to get there, you still would not find it. My daughter came to visit and knew that the GPS would get her there. It didn't, I had to ride over the levy and a couple miles down the road on my golf cart and talk her in on my cell phone, but hey, it was my daughter, glad to do it.

At the Cutoff you had a golf cart or you quickly became an object of sympathy. But it was ok. Slick, two doors down from me would sell you a golf cart on time if you were in need. Slick was a retired air traffic controller from nearby Memphis, and the nicest old man you would ever want to meet.

If you kept going down the block you would hit the corner and Brian and Carole's house. They used to live on the other side of me but one night I watched their house burn from my front porch. The neighbors came and tried but their trailer/cabin only took eight minutes to burn to the ground. Soon after the Volunteer Fire Department showed up. Such are the facts of life and the risks of living on the Cutoff, but after all is tallied it is still well worth it.

If you cross the street and go to the house on the other corner you would find Michael T and Brenda's house. Every full time resident knew where they lived. Every one in all four camps knew. When Michael T and Brenda showed up you were glad they came. They were "those" people.

If someone needed help they were helpin' with the first of them. Not by money, cause they really didn't have much of it. They got by, they got what they needed, but Michael T and Brenda's riches were in helping the person, not the situation. Moral support, a helpin' hand, or by talking to everyone they know to see if they could find the answer, or someone who knew the answer, maybe even just someone to talk about it with.

Some examples? I can only give the ones that I experienced myself.

My Dodge Stealth was down, my borrowed work truck was down and I was havin' a hell of a time getting the eighth spark plug into the truck's four cylinder motor. Yes, some Ford four cylinder motors do indeed have eight plugs - two per cylinder - leave it to Ford. We worked all day trying to get that @^R^&**%@# plug in and finally Michael ended up getting it to drop in the proper hole.

When the tree in my front yard decided to have a rest and took out my whole house, it was Michael T who rolled up on his golf cart looked down at the bottle of Gosling Black Seal rum in my hand and all he said was "Got anything to drink?" He drove my suddenly homeless butt around the Cutoff and we got drunk.

I had been working at Domino's Pizza making deliveries and killing my sports car and was barely getting by. In fact I was pretty much only eating pizza I was so broke. For four months Brenda and Michael T kept telling me to go down and get Food Stamps but I wouldn't hear of it. Finally one day Brenda showed up at my door and said; "C'mon, were goin' downtown and gettin' ya signed up. I gotta go down there anyway, you might as well come.' Even though I was working full time, I qualified for the full monthly amount and an emergency check.

Great people, down to earth, just plain folks.

Well Michael was in jail last week. You see he had finally gotten his full disability status which he had been trying for, for a very long time. He had some bad problems with his feet. Don't know what the problem was but I had seen his feet looking blue in an infected looking way a couple of times.

Anyway, Michael T had finally gotten full disability (100%) and believed that he was no longer responsible for paying his back child support. We won't go into that and why he was in jail is not important, only that fact that he was in fact in jail. While in jail - Hernando County - he started having problems with his feet. He got an infection in jail. He asked for a doctor, another inmate asked for a doctor for him, Brenda even called Sheriff Rascoe in person and begged him to get Michael some medical attention. The response she got was "He'll be in court on Monday."

Brenda drained their bank account and sold what she could and finally got him out on bail. Michael T passed away at home at 1:00 AM on Monday morning and missed court altogether. He is gone. Yesterday they held his funeral. Two days ago Brenda called me in Washington State where I live now and told me about all this. After twenty some years together her world is gone and because Mississippi does not recognize common law marriage, she can't even sue the Hernando County for denying him the medical treatment that asked for, and was his right as a prisoner. She is trying to see what she can do, but after all this is Mississippi we are talkin' about.

I would say that he will be missed on the Cutoff but since the 100 year flood this last summer almost everyone on the Cutoff is gone already. But if you knew Michael T you would miss him.

I am trying to get Brenda to get out of Mississippi and come to Washington State before the ground opens up and swallows her whole. The ironic thing is that they are both from this area originally and I tried my best to get them to come with me, but no luck.

The reason I asked you to put on "The Last Waltz" by The Band is because that was Michael T's favorite band and because I gave him that DVD before I left.

To you Michael T.

posted on Jun, 10 2012 @ 09:22 PM
reply to post by Ittabena

My condolences on the loss of your dear friend. He sounds like he was a very special person.

About Brenda: Don't give up on asking her to move to your place. Let her know it breaks your heart thinking of her trying to go it alone without Michael T. at her side. Hopefully, she'll listen and move up there with you.

Take care.


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