Tom and I meeting for lunch, August 2006
I learned on Saturday, that my friend Tom has died.
It was strange, I was just thinking a lot about him, during the week. Thinking that I needed to call, and see how he was doing. Thinking about the last time I talked to him in May, and our conversation. He was still being his ornery self, even though his voice was weak, he was still the same old Tom. He said he and his wife Cynthia, would come to see my new apartment, and that he was going to Golf again in August. I didn't doubt for a minute that he would find a way to get back out on the Golf course.
On my ride home from work yesterday, As I passed the "Welcome to Strongsville" sign where Tom lived, again he popped in my head. I was thinking that I should go visit him and Cynthia, and that I'd bring Cynthia flowers, and that I would give Tom a dead flower....he would find that very funny. When I got home, and saw there was a call from "Tsmith" on my phone. I was amazed that I was just thinking about him, and there he was. I listened to the message, and it was Cynthia. In a very teary voice, telling me that Tom died on Thursday. I called her, and we talked awhile. I couldn't fight back the tears. She told me how his health rapidly declined, and that they (she and her family) were "pleased" that he had passed, and was no longer suffering.
I'm glad that he is in "a better place"...but I'll miss him terribly.
Tom was 85 years old.
Tom was my "Oldest" friend. We met back in 1995, when I started working at Pagenet. my seat was next to his, and I remember thinking, "why do I have to sit next to the old guy" Little did I know, that he and I would become good friends. Tom was the guy that everyone loved, and everyone missed, if he wasn't at the office party.
Tom loved to dress up for our office Halloween parties. He'd always find something hysterical to wear. One year he was a Clown in full make up, that he made his wife apply. He sat slouched in the corner of the conference room, wearing this over the top Clown outfit, pretending to be depressed. He dressed in drag for our "Lets make a Deal" sales kick off. He jumped in the hotel pool on a dare, served Bloody Marys in his hotel room at 8 a.m. at another sales conference. Once, our boss Linda, came out with a coffee can and said there was too much talking going on and if we got caught talking, we would have to put a quarter in the can. Tom promptly got up, and dropped a dollar in the can! Linda wasn't very happy, but we were cracking up!
He loved to play practical jokes, and I was usually the target. Once, he told me I was his "Melancoly Baby"... I said "Oh really."... then he said "Do you want to know why?".. "ok," I said, "why?"... "Because you have a head like a Melon, and a face like a Collie!!!".... WHAT A BRAT!!!!! He laughed himself silly!! and actually, so did I!
When I'd get to work each morning, I never knew what I might find. He was always taking the ball out of my mouse, taking the wheels off of my office chair. Once he took every phone book, binder and folder he could find and piled them on my desk, then hid to watch my reaction.
One of the best pranks was one I pulled on him. He was on vacation, and when I went into his desk drawer to "steal" a piece of gum as I always did, he had the pack of gum in a mouse trap!!! even when he was not at work, he found a way to prank me! So I decided to get him back and "kidnap" the little "characters" that decorated his desk. Little Troll dolls, Golf ball guy, and a little black Cat. I took them home, made a "set" complete with a "brick wall." I proceeded to gag, tie and blindfold each little character, and photograph them. Each looking like they were being held captive. I created a real ransom note, and put the photos and note in a Fedex envelope, and had a co-worker deliver it to him on his first day back from vacation. He opened the envelope, and as he read, he turned his back to me. His shoulders were shaking, as he tried to not laugh out loud. He turned back to me, and trying to be serious, he said "someone has kidnapped my little friends!" I played along, and acted concerned, and there it began. The next day there were "wanted posters" (that he made his poor wife Cynthia make) plastered all over the office. The "kidnapping," even made the company news letter. His "little friends" were eventually returned unharmed. We had a office wide 75th. birthday party, and the GM declared it: "Tom Smith Day" We covered his cubicle in tons of shredded paper, Had is name up in lights and there was a big potluck lunch. I presented him with a (made up) "This is your Life," complete with "photos" of Tom as a young boy, standing next to his childhood "pet" T-Rex...on a leash, and he and his wife taking the wagon (a Conestoga wagon) on vacation. The GM presented him with his "long lost" first Golf club (I made "Flintstone" style, a rock "putter" tied to a stick.) There are many, many more stories that I will remember, and laugh about. This is just a little hint of what it was like to work with my partner-in-crime, Mr Smith.
We eventually worked at 2 other jobs together, and would always tell him that I was being punished for doing something bad in a previous life. Cynthia said I was his babysitter, I said she locked him out of the house everyday, and that he wasn't allowed to go home till after noon, so she could have some peace.
Tom was hysterically funny, extremely youthful and always interesting. I loved hearing about his life. I loved that he and his lovely wife(as I always refered to here)Cynthia knew each other since Kindergarten. He was a WWII Veteran and VP, at a Wire company. He was always full of insights, and made me see things differently.
He didn't like being around "old people" and said they complained too much.
There will be a memorial service for Tom, on September 7Th. The irony is that when Tom called me back in March, to tell me about the Cancer and surgery, he said he knew I would want to know, and...well..."ya know......Chuckles".....I KNEW HE WAS GOING TO SAY THAT!! and I knew instantly what he meant.
He was trying to say, in case he died, he wanted to say Good bye, and he loved me, but the reference to "Chuckles" was all he needed to say. Years back, at Pagenet, he told me about his favorite episode of the "Mary Tyler Moore" show, (Click link to see clip of that show) "Chuckles bites the dust" where the fictional TV station Clown named Chuckles, is killed by an Elephant. During his memorial service, Mary Tyler Moore, has an uncontrollable case of the giggles. Tom thought it was the funniest thing, and always made reference to it. So now, I will be at Tom's memorial service, with all the people who love him. I know a hundred stories will be told, and laughter will be inevitable...just the way he'd want it.
I love you Tom, enjoy your endless driving range.