Many wonder the same: What’s a world without Jimmy?

By: Lucy “LuLu” Buffett

September, 4th, 2023

As seen in Keys Citizen


How do we live in a world without Jimmy? He was never supposed to die! With the amazing outpouring of love and grief streaming on social media and the many texts, emails, and phone messages I have received, it seems that so many feel the same way as I do.

Jimmy was so many things to so many people. For me, I always felt safe in a world that he was in because as my big brother, he felt like my protector. When he played the amphitheater in Key West last February, I remember gazing around and thinking, I have known him longer than anyone here, along with my sister, LaLa. Maybe not as well as others, as he married and had his own family, but we had the destiny of knowing him as a kid and the three of us had common goals to supersede our humble beginnings. That was a strong bond that only the three of us could understand. He paved the way for that to happen for all of us in a bigger way than we ever imagined.

Bubba, his childhood nickname and how we refer to him, always kept his Southern Gulf Coast roots and the importance of family anchored in the vast depth of his psyche. Like my father and grandfather, everything he did in pursuit of a successful career was to provide for his family – his wife and his children were his anchors and his motivators that kept his incessant drive in check but still allowed him to enjoy the “fruits of his labor.” BIG TIME! LOL. Still, the family had to share him with so many and that was hard at times though ultimately a blessing that enriched all our lives.

He didn’t make a big deal of his diagnosis four years ago to any of us, though he took every avenue possible to heal. There were times of great joy and celebration as the illness would get in check after repeated treatments. One such was a lunch at Louie’s, one of his favorite places. Regardless of his busy, busy life, he took time to check in. He did not want us to worry. Then, we would get word of a “setback.”  Still, he remained optimistic. He was the best person I know that could “breathe in, breathe out and move on…” after hard news.

He fought bravely and gave it everything he had. We had a beautiful goodbye visit earlier in the week. He specifically asked me to bring my pup, JoJo, with me. And I also brought Gumbo and water and sand from the Gulf of Mexico that gave him so much joy to touch and taste those elements that inspired his dreams as a child. He had my grandfather’s twinkle in his eye to the end and he was very clear that the music, the party, and the good life was to continue with his robust optimism in tow.

In the spirit that launched his imagination and purpose so many years ago, the City of Key West turned out in colorful droves to honor him with a New Orleans second line parade in the streets. He maintained a love for Key West and a deep appreciation for his time spent there as a young, lost troubadour. I believe he knew what he was doing when he booked 4 shows there in February! He wanted to go back and give back to the place that started it all for him.

Toward the end, when we knew things were “going South” as my Daddy used to say, there was lots of talks and texts about the need for a “miracle.” That is when my husband, Mac, said sweetly, “Lu, the miracle is that we have had him for the last four years!”

During those years, he continued to work, as always, with purpose and light-speed movement. We were always left in his wake or his vapor trail as he ventured to the next thing! He was an ordinary man from an ordinary childhood that did extraordinary things that touched millions!!!

I know that he is flying high above Mother Ocean, soaring up to the Pleiades, and was gliding over Duval Street yesterday, laughing and singing all the way with his beloved Parrotheads and friends.

He didn’t care about resting in peace. The last words he whispered to me were, “Have fun.”

Lucy “LuLu” Buffett

Perdido Key, Florida

Septemeber 4, 2023