Friday, September 28, 2007

Take Him To The Stars


It has been almost a year since my friend, Buff Schemmer, took his life and yet every time I hear a motorcycle coming down the street I think, "Here comes Buff. I wonder what's on his mind today?"

And then I remember. Buff won't be visiting anymore.

I think about Buff every day, but he was in my thoughts even more over the past few weeks as I read the final galley proofs of an autobiography on him that has been written by Phillip Whitford. Months ago, when Phillip first asked me to read a rough draft of the book, I hesitated. I was just beginning to heal from the tragedy of his death and I felt that reading a book about him would reopen fresh wounds.

But I did read it, and I've read two subsequent drafts.

I will paste my review of the book below. It will be posted on the Take Him To the Stars webpage http://takehimtothestars.com/home.htm where information about the book, its launch and a host of other things can be found, but let me say this. The book is written with tremendous compassion, wisdom, and keen insight. Reading it brought increased healing as I learned so much about the man that I did not know. Feelings of guilt over my own sometimes rocky relationship with Buff have been put to rest. I was the best friend I could be to him, and he was also being the best person he could be. Neither of us was perfect.

My Review:

After months of painstaking research, digging deep and conducting many interviews, Phillip Whitford has written a book that connects the thousands of interlocking puzzle pieces that make up Mike (Buff) Schemmer’s life and in doing so has formed a complete image that makes sense of the complicated person that Buff was.

Beginning with Buff’s early years, Whitford describes the awkwardness Buff felt in school when his physical size never matched his social maturity. We get a peek at the many unhappy incidents that Buff endured, including abuse and bullying by peers and teachers that were instrumental in shaping the man he was to become. The story then progresses into Buff’s adult years where Whitford, with tremendous wisdom, contrasts the passionate, exuberant man we saw on the outside with the troubled, lonely and depressed person he was on the inside. Whitford even manages to make sense of why Buff ended his life so tragically, allowing the reader to find closure.

This biography of Buff Schemmer does not gloss over the prickly edges of Buff’s character, but accurately portrays the complex man he was. At the same time, Whitford reminds us of Buff’s incredible accomplishments: his unrelenting efforts to protect at risk children and adults, his thousands of volunteer hours spent coaching countless children, and his passion for writing and theatre. In the end, this book shows how Buff could and did help everyone but himself.

Buff’s life ended far too soon, but Take Him to the Stars is a powerful legacy of a remarkable man.

12 comments:

Leslie said...

I am smiling fondly remembering our dear friend Buff. Your post today was terrific. I'll now wait patiently to read Philip's account of Buff's big life.

giggles said...

Dearest Shelley
You have yanked my chain of emotion from elated to sorrow in one post. I am so sorry for your loss, that of his parents and especially those he aided along the way! Hopefully this published tribute will honor his memory, bring understanding and closure to those still perplexed by the sadness of his demise. I have no doubt it will be a very interesting read, I’ll look forward to it. Again thanks for sharing this intimate story.

Hugs Sherrie

giggles said...

Dearest Shelley
You have yanked my chain of emotion from elated to sorrow in one post. I am so sorry for your loss, that of his parents and especially those he aided along the way! Hopefully this published tribute will honor his memory, bring understanding and closure to those still perplexed by the sadness of his demise. I have no doubt it will be a very interesting read, I’ll look forward to it. Again thanks for sharing this intimate story.

Hugs Sherrie

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