Facebook tells me that I wrote this six years ago, and it inspired me to share Byron Nease’s beautiful voice with all of you.
From 2009 (when my first novel was published) to mid-2013, I was blessed to have a penpal whom I liked a great deal: the late Byron Nease. He actually reached out to me on Twitter, and I remember being blown away that this brilliant Broadway star would be interested in what I had to say — let alone what he actually wound up doing, which was periodically reaching out to send me words of encouragement at what always seemed to be just the right time.
I heard less from Bud after he moved to Hawaii for a time, but he returned to Southern California in 2013 with plans to be a voice teacher. He had put up some videos advertising his service … shared a tiny bit on Twitter … and then he died. He had been living with HIV/AIDS for a very long time.
He wrote a memoir that came out about the same time as my novel, and I bought it. The book was recently unearthed in our home, and I decided to read “just one chapter” last night. Instead, I wound up being awake far too late re-reading the entire thing. I laughed and yes, I cried. I had forgotten some of the stories he shared … but I hadn’t forgotten how he humbly described working several part-time jobs to make ends meet in later years, or how he’d go home from performing on Broadway and get up early the next morning to clean people’s houses because theatre doesn’t pay well.
I could hear his rich speaking voice in my head with every word, and I realized again how much I’ve missed him.