My older brother Travis Lionel Houston died eight days ago. I’ve been reluctant to share my thoughts and feelings on this. Some of those feelings won’t be shared. We’ll have to call them private demons.

When we were children Travis was my best bud. He was certainly my greatest tormentor and defender; which means that he would have beat the crap out of anyone who treated me like he did. And from time to time, he did just that.

Travis was the star of our family and the apple of my father’s eye. He excelled in athletics. He was a ladies man. He was a scholar. He had the world in front of him.

On the other hand, I was none of that. By all accounts I was the black sheep of the family. And so by the hand of cards we were both dealt you’d have thought that the future was a predictable movie script.

Travis demonstrated too early in his life a propensity for chemical dependency. You can call it a character flaw. I prefer to imagine that it’s a disease that he had no more chance of overcoming without proper care than the most malevolent cancer. For more than 40 years we hadn’t much to say to each other. He used to “borrow” a few hundred dollars from me every few months as his life moved from disaster to disaster. One day I cut all that off and I never again had much occasion to talk to him. He no longer had use for me.

So now Travis has died. It was liver failure. If I understand the diagnosis his liver was making or allowing to be made horrible toxic chemicals that choked away his life.

Here’s the thing about alcohol and drugs… none of it should be viewed as a “risk”. It’s like you’re abusing your body and you get to say silly shit like “well, it’s a risk. But my grandma drank… and she lived to 99!”

It’s not a risk. It’s a certainty. And you’re going to die a horrible stupid death before it’s actually your time to die. In the meantime you get to live in hovels and hang out with the worthless dregs of humanity… because they’re the ones who share your values.

I actually cried when I heard the news. I wouldn’t have called that. It wasn’t for very long, and it wasn’t for the man who died. I cried for the child I knew the brother my old best friend with so much promise that forever shall be unfulfilled.

Post Script

I’m oddly grappling with the artifice of the “Blog” which is shared out as unpredictable spam on “Facebook”. It’s a poor tribute to my older brother that the closest thing he’ll get to a eulogy is a social network sentiment that gets to compete with “I had a burrito for breakfast,” and “isn’t my cat cute!”


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.


7 Responses to “Travis”

  1. Bernadette Says:

    So sorry for your loss Bud.

  2. Pam Says:

    I’m so sad to read this. It seems that you lost your brother twice. I’m happy for you that even in this awful time of sadness you still have good memories of him.

  3. Betty Says:

    You’re a good man Bud Houston. I’m sorry for your loss.

  4. connie Says:

    It is sad any time one dies. I too have loss a love one , my son resonantly . and feel sad all the time. but i have more friends than i realized and they are helping me through these sad times .. also my dog Gracie. she is a border collie and we do agility together . it take my mind off the loss. just think of the good time. because that is what matters.

  5. deborahauer Says:

    I’m sorry, Bud.

  6. Martha Gray Says:

    Dear Bud, thanks for sharing that intensely personal story. I know your unmentioned demons. I lost my sister at her age 46 to alcohol and drugs too. I also had to finally stop enabling her, and lost total touch. Then she developed liver cancer and I had the opportunity to house and care for her and her 16 year old daughter for the last four months of her life. This was a gift in an odd way. I could finally be helpful, as one can never be when one’s sibling is committed to her addiction. A couple of years later Her daughter went through some issues of her own and I eventually had to tell her that she couldn’t live with us anymore. It took a few years but she finally figured out that she was smart and talented and could make a success of her life. She is entering graduate school this fall and I had the opportunity to be a surrogate mom and walk her down the aisle just a couple of weeks ago. You never know.

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