bunt sign

Saturday, January 12, 2002

Uncle Tommy always knew exactly what he wanted, including the details of what would happen after he died. I don't know how he's doing on his end — probably running deep pass patterns or digging for second on balls hit into the gap — but at this end he's getting what he asked for. He died in the Napa Valley and was buried in Hopland, and today we honored his request for a memorial in Santa Rosa for his many friends here.

Mom (his sister) and his significant other Nannette were the hosts of what they decided to call a celebration of his life. It was an informal celebration in a hall donated by friends of the family. Suzanne brought cookies and coffee. Mom and Nan had each gathered photos of Tom from throughout his life, along with pictures of the people who were important to him. None of us had any experience in organizing this type of event, and we had no idea what to expect.

What we thought might happen would be that the few people we'd contacted personally would show up, and maybe a few more who read the announcement in the paper. It was heartwarming and very satisfying to see people start trickling into the hall well before the appointed time. By the time the ceremony started, more than thirty people had found their way to our little celebration. A few of us were family members, but most either knew him in high school, back in the early fifties, or were friends he'd made in later years.

Mom told stories of her brother's early years, and Nan brought us up to date on the last twelve years when she and Tom were together. Everyone who spoke, either to the crowd or in conversation over coffee, mentioned his sense of humor. It was clear that all who knew him admired his courage and perseverance in the face of tremendous obstacles throughout his life. He loved his friends and family, and he was loved and respected in return.

It's an admirable legacy to leave behind. His children — my cousins Sharon, Chris and Kelly — and his grandchildren and great grandchildren will carry on, remembering what he taught them and inspired by the example he set. All of his family and friends will miss him, but we will also cherish a lifetime of special memories that transcend his brittle body and celebrate his shining spirit.

moment of impact

The sun sets.

This week, and in fact the last few weeks starting even before Uncle Tommy died on December 18, have been hard on Mom. She was pretty courageous herself today, standing in front of a crowd made up mostly of people she'd never met or hadn't seen for many years, helping them remember him and letting them know what he was like before they knew him. She had a hard time getting through her speech, and Nan broke up when she was speaking, too, but it was a wonderful tribute.

Now, Mom can let some of the tension go, and begin to move on. Getting to this day was important, but getting through it and getting past it will be a relief. Our cousins who came down from Eureka for the memorial took her out to dinner tonight, where I'm sure a lot of old memories were exchanged. Starting tomorrow, we'll have to see if we can begin making new ones.

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Other entries about Uncle Tommy are from August 21, September 6, October 25, November 29, December 18 and December 22, 2001.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Well, You Asked
"Story of my life. Consistently not-quite-good-enough."

Two years ago: Good Faith
"If I've been able to get ahead because someone's foot has been on your throat, whether it's mine or someone else's, I think I should at least help you up and dust you off and give you a chance to even things out."

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