Hankie alert. I have never read a better tribute to a brother.
He was my best friend.
He was my best friend.
He was my evil twin.
He was my alter ego.
He was my guardian angel.
You know the little cartoon devil that sits on your left shoulder? And the angel that sits on your right? Tom could find a way to be either, and often at the same time. When he predicted we were going to get in trouble, darned if he wasn't right!
On a summer day, he was in his element. There was always going to be some fun. Tom, in fact, had a special genius for fun. In a previous life he was Abner Doubleday. One summer day, he invented a game using my baseball bat, chunks of concrete and a highway under construction. Funny, he always included my baseball bat for that kind of stuff. But the entertainment value was always worth the price of admission. Following him for one summer day, you could get to know the man.
He probably invented disc golf. I remember playing it with him for the first time at least 25 years ago. Now they build courses for the game. Tom's games never had to be complicated, though. A mostly round rock and a target of any kind was fodder for a new game design. Very creative. Can you make a rock skip 12 times? Tom could. And we'd take turns trying for 13 until the sun went down.
The most improbable things fascinated him. How long it takes to boil beer out of a bottle cap in a camp fire (answer: about 3 beers). The color of a leech when dipped in alcohol (answer: white). Tom, the scientist.
Once, as if to prove to God and me that he was a versatile fellow, he fired up a bulldozer on a construction site. He was 15. He moved it about 3 feet, and shut it down. Mission accomplished.
He was a very competitive person in the play world, and a cooperative one in the business world. He introduced me to one of his customers, who he obviously got along with real well, even as he was kicking that customer's butt in a trivia game. Some customers have a problem with that. Tom was too easy to play with.
Some of his shuffelboard throws defied gravity.
He was in his element also in family matters. He could quote the house rules by the time he was 4. And didn't mind enforcing them either. Sometimes he would use mom words and dad voices. Bizarre, scary even, but effective. He was the oldest. He knew when it was up to him. He always had that responsibility thing going on.
Many of his best insights were after our bedtime. Maybe he thought better in the dark. Most times I was glad to stay up and chat. I learned about his experiences that way. Who he rode with that day, what they saw. How he felt.
He was an Eagle Scout. A trailblazer of the highest order.
He knew how to beat me. I may have been a better golfer, I'll never know, because he psyched me out every time. Okay, maybe he was a better golfer. I enjoyed every game I ever played with Tom. Monopoly. Touch football, Parcheesi, Jarts. We were bowling when 10 pound balls were too heavy, and our shoe sizes had just started over. And bowling was 10 cents a line.
I wanted him on my team. We all did. He was a winner.
He could put 99 tree frogs in a minnow bucket and get it across the Canadian border (with the border guard's blessing, no less). You can't teach talent like that. You are born with it.
There was the time "we" sold my Buffalo Nickel collection, because who the heck would ever think that a nickel folder was worth more than a pile of nickels. Better we spend them at the hobby shop. Besides, that last one I needed to complete the collection wasn't going to materialize any time soon. I've never been much of a collector, but I do collect memories. This and all my memories of Tom are worth every coin in the Denver Mint.
There are many stories of Tom, and I promise keep telling them. If you know some good Tom stories, please add them to mine.
He has no doubt, by now, challenged Saint Peter to a game of "Stretch" using pocket knives; and probably has The Apostles scheduled for a game of "Acey Deucy" by tomorrow night.
We are blessed by the memories he has left us, and we will all miss him. I hope we all remember him as the caring, loving person, a great friend, brother, and family man. I do, but I especially like to recall the summer fun. Don't tell Dad about the bulldozer.
Please join me in the celebration of Tom.
His Brother Dan