No food to post today. Tony has a guest post today. After reading what he wrote, it dawned on me that I really don’t have as many problems as I think I do – I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, a loving family and at the end of the day, does it really matter what the number is on the scale?
I first met my friend Tom when we worked together a dozen or so years ago. Tom was in charge of the service technicians and I was the sales manager. My earliest memory of meeting Tom was at a monthly meeting that was held on site at the customers’ campus location. Tom and I met in the parking lot and went in after a bit of small talk. The meeting was long and for the most part fairly boring. The only part of the meeting that I recall was watching Tom eying a box of doughnuts. After some time he reached into the box and got hold of a powdered sugar covered beauty. As I watched him munch I noticed a steady stream of powdered sugar began to spill onto his black suit and tie. I was doing my best to try to hold back my laughter when he noticed me; he then nervously tried to brush the sugar away. It was at that point that I knew we would become friends.
In those days Tom and I smoked, and spent many moments together outside in the smoking area. We discussed whatever the news of the day may have been. It was during one of those smoke breaks that Tom mentioned that his youngest daughter birthday was coming up. I mentioned my son was about to have a birthday too, more and more chatter until we discovered we were born the exact same day. Same month, day AND year! From that point on Tom and I were birthday buddies. Like me, Tom is Italian, and his family uses almost any excuse to have the most wonderful parties and golf outings. Tom was kind enough to invite me. My son Joey was eight or so and spent every weekend with me. Tom had no problem with me including my son to these outings, because as it turned out, he had a son the same age.
I enjoyed great days of golf and both of our boys met us on the 18th green. Because of these outings and parties, I got to know a lot of Tom’s family. He had three brothers that were avid golfers. As is typical of any sporting event, some gambling was always part of the festivities. I also met Toms Mom and Dad, wonderful people who made me feel like part of their family. I golfed many times with Tom’s older brother; he was a larger than life character, who always had a story or a joke. He had a way of as he called it “getting into my kitchen”. This made it so any bets I made with him on the golf course were won by him.
I also met Tom’s wife Viv. She was such a warm and wonderful person. She and Tom had a very special relationship and it showed whenever you saw them together. In addition to a son, Tom has three beautiful daughters. All great kids. Whenever my son and I visited Tom’s house it was always a fun day.
Some time passes, and I get a call from Tom. He sounds upset. He tells me that his older brother died. He died suddenly around Christmas. All of who worked with Tom went to the funeral, and it was a very sad day. The summer golf outing was named after his brother and became the Frank Memorial Golf Outing. They were really never the same after the loss of Frank. In our lives we move on. Tom and I took other jobs and I did not see him or his family as often. We got together now and again, and I did the golf outing whenever possible. Both of our family grew older, but we all enjoyed each other’s company.
Several years later I got another call letting me know that another of Tom’s brothers died suddenly, much like his brother Frank. The golf outings stopped, nobody felt much like celebrating anything.
A couple more years passed, I would call my birthday buddy on or around our birthdays. We would infrequently get together, but whenever we did we just were able to pick up where we left off.
One afternoon I came home and there was a message on our machine. It was Tom’s Dad, and he sounded like something was wrong. I called back and left a message, my brain was racing looking for answers. I called a friend that Tom and I had in common. I asked him if he had heard anything. He hadn’t, but started googling Tom’s name. He gasped and fell silent. He had found Tom’s wife’s obituary. Tom’s wife was found dead at her desk, apparently from a massive heart attack. A seemingly healthy woman was found dead? How can this happen? The funeral had been held the week before. How could I not have known? It turned out that one of Tom’s nephews called an old work cell phone, and I had not received the message.
I called Tom, but I didn’t know what to say to my friend. I was not capable of helping my friend who I knew was in great pain. As I spoke to him he said something that I will never forget. He said “the only reason I can cope with this is because I lost my brothers. Losing them showed me how to keep the pain from destroying me.”
Tom lost his wife last year. I recently noticed he had a Facebook page and friended him. A few days later someone commented that she had the same birthday as Tom. I made some lame comment about adding another birthday buddy to our group. The next day I noticed that Tom had left a comment below mine it read…
Not a good year Tony. My son took Viv’s death pretty bad. After a lot of challenges he succumbed to an awful addiction. He passed away a week before his 22nd birthday. August 5th. I have 3 wonderful daughters that keep me going. No options other than to more forward and to be thankful for what I have. I miss my wife and son.
What can I say to my friend of 15 years, what can I say to someone who has lost their wife and son within a year?
So with this post I leave you with this – go hug your son, daughter, husband or wife. Life is so short, and sadly it takes someone elses tragedy to make you realize what’s most important in your own life.
Make it a great day!