Tom would have turned 66 today. It is an incredibly, atypically beautiful day here and Tom would’ve loved it. I bet we would’ve headed to the Huron river for some kayaking. He was famous for his ability to carry good weather on his shoulder. I am positive that heaven is way sunnier now than it used to be before he arrived. Both he and his brother claimed that good weather went with them on vacation almost without exception. One guy who usually vacationed with Rick, went without him one year and had two weeks of solid rain. He vowed to NEVER leave town without his buddy again.
Tom and I took a lot of trips in our short time together. We went to France, Florida several times, hiked the Grand Canyon in April and drove the coast of California in February. For the latter we were warned of the perils of our plan to visit my brother near San Diego and then book straight north through the interior, shoot over to the coast and make a leisurely drive south to our starting point. Everyone said there was a good chance that snowy passes in the interior would foil our plans and that the roads might even be impassable that time of year. We did it anyway and saw not a drop of snow and had glorious weather except for one day in Carmel and even that resulted in an amazing post-rain shoreline photo by Tom that could win a contest.
My sister took a picture of me in Ireland on the beach next to the sign we had carved in the sand saying “Thank you, Tommy” because having 6 days of solid sun in October on the Emerald Isle is unheard of. We were positive Tommy was watching over us and lending us his good weather ju-ju.
My friend’s daughter is due to deliver her second baby any day now and I was thinking how cool it would be if today were the day. I have twin piano students who were born on this date and we sang to them in class today. Alyssa was sad that she hadn’t remembered it was Tom’s birthday but I told her the only reason I did was because every single doctor’s appointment or hospital procedure or chemo treatment involved someone asking Tom his birthday. I heard him say 11/7/50 about 500 times. He wasn’t somebody who cared too much about birthdays. I don’t really remember doing anything particularly special on any of his, although I’m sure we got him presents and fed him a good meal. He was a simple man who loved his family, nature, music and us. He didn’t need much else. He liked to be outdoors with people he loved. And to make beautiful things with his hands. That’s what made him happy.
Last week we were remembering the time before Tom and I were married when he lived in a little house in Southfield. He invited us over to carve pumpkins and had bought all the fancy patterns and the carving tools and helped us create some flat-out amazing jack-o-lanterns. I know he had a picture of them on his computer and I think his brother included it in the slide show at his funeral. When Alyssa and I talked about it she said, “He was someone who just took full advantage of getting to be a dad.” Never were truer words spoken. The coming together of the (for all intents and purposes) fatherless child and the childless man was one of the most beautiful serendipities I have ever witnessed. They loved each other. She talked to him more than to any other person. He listened and doled out sound advice in measured teaspoons. They laughed and joked and did Southern accents. He went to every football game, every band concert. He wrote her a check for getting good grades. He was so very very proud of her and loved her so dearly. And she him.
The world brought forth a rare and wonderful person 66 years ago today. And then took him back too soon in a really bad case of Indian giving. There really should be some sort of penalty, like when you renege in Euchre. But there isn’t. The only consequence is the broken hearts of those left behind, to remember and smile and cry.
Tonight Alyssa and I lit a little candle and just watched the flame as we talked about Tom and how much we miss him still. Some of the last of his garage things are going to the curb tomorrow. Someone in my neighborhood needs a place to store a car this winter so I let them clear space and bag up remaining odds and ends that no one seems to want. I recently did the same with a few remaining clothing items. But Alyssa still wears several of his shirts and sweaters and I cannot give up the forest green sweater I gave him, the one that brought out the green of his eyes. The one he had only one short season to wear.
It would be beautiful if Grace had her baby today, if a new soul weighed in on my sweetheart’s birthday, one who could carry on Tom’s loving, patient and gentle spirit. That would be something worth celebrating.
Thomas Rue Hamill 11/7/50-2/13/15 A kind, loving carpenter who will be missed forever.