Missing Jimmy Buffett

Am I a Parrot Head? Do I drink margaritas? 

Jimmy Buffett

No, those are not what define the depth of my reaction upon hearing of Jimmy Buffett’s passing. Although I never met the man, or even knew anyone who was personally acquainted, he has been a part of my life for almost 50 years. I grew up with him.

Many of his songs are wildly playful, laced with an infectious, carefree attitude. What’s not to love about ballads to cheeseburgers and flip flops and Pop Tops! Always with punchlines: “If we weren’t all crazy we would go insane.”

But it went beyond that … way beyond. For one thing, his play with words was genius. “If the phone doesn’t ring it’s me.” And, “We are the people our parents warned us about.”

The imagery and poetry within his lyrics are beautifully poignant. They exhibit his deep love of the sea, his sense of adventure, his spirituality as well as his convictions about the importance of family.


“I never used to miss the chance
To climb up on his knee 
Listen to the many tales 
Of life upon the sea
He’s somewhere on the ocean now
That’s where he oughta be
With one hand on the starboard rail
He’s wavin’ back at me.”


There were clear lessons in his music. Having a rough patch?          


“If a hurricane doesn’t leave you dead
It will make you strong.
Don’t try to explain it, just nod your head.
Breathe in, breathe out, move on.”

Simple phrases spoke volumes. “Wrinkles only go where the smiles have been.”

One of the songs on his new, yet-to-be-released album resonates so soon after his passing. The reference is to a scuba diving term that refers to watching the direction of your bubbles to find the surface if you are in trouble. It is a beautiful metaphor for life.


“Bubbles up, they will point you towards home
No matter how deep or how far you roam
They will show you the surface, the plot and the purpose
So when the journey gets long
Just know that you’re loved, there is light up above
And the joy is always enough
Bubbles up.”

That this man came from very little and built a billion-dollar empire is impressive, but almost dims in the light of his words. I think he wrote his own final toast:


“I’m sorry it’s ending, oh it’s sad but it’s true
Honey it’s been a lovely cruise
There’s wind in our hair and here’s water in our shoes
Honey, it’s been a lovely cruise.”

I am having trouble with a verse from one of my favorite songs:


“I’m just hangin’ on while this old world keeps spinning
And it’s good to know it’s out of my control
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this livin’
Is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go.”

I’m finding my world changed without him in it. But what a gift he has left us all.

Betty Breuhaus

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