My older brother Tom
Tom was a larger than life presence in my life. I can remember at a very young age wanting to be in his "club". The requirements were to be able to blow a bubble with your gum and to learn how to whistle. Man did I work on that because I wanted to spend time with him and his friends.
On Halloween when I had to be either three or four, I had a pillow case to collect my candy in and I was too short to keep it off the ground and so it dragged behind me and all of my candy came out on the sidewalk. I didn't realize this was happening until I got home. And this is how I want to remember it (I don't know if one of my parent's suggested Tom doing this), Tom gave me half of his candy. And you know to a kid, candy is worth it's weight in gold!
Tom's energy in life was contagious. Everything he did in life, he did to the fullest and excelled at it. With painting, with sculpture, with ceramics, with cooking, with photography, with carpentry, with care for orphaned children in Nicaragua and with his care for his daughter Terri Anne.
Tom had a heart for the underdog. I can remember when he was in college and I was in high school, my parents were out of town for the weekend and I was at a friend's house. It was at a difficult time for me as I was realizing how mean girls can be and I was quickly realizing that my friends were the mean girls, so I called my brother and asked him if he could come home so I wouldn't have to stay there for the entire weekend, and he said yes. It was one of the most memorable weekends of my high school years. We had coffee ice cream for dinner and I finally got to hang out with his friends!
It was hard in many respects growing up in the shadow of my older sister Karen and older brother Tom. Both are/were incredibly gifted and talented in their own right. Karen was an amazing piano player, I was so-so. She also was gifted at flute and I was so-so. Tom was an amazing artist and I was well, so-so. He was also a gifted cook and while I like to think I am not so-so, it is hard to stand in the shadow of someone who is so incredibly gifted. But I didn't remain in the shadows, I was able to find my own strengths because of them both.
For most of Tom's life, he and my sister were often at odds and I found myself being Switzerland, a neutral force between the two poles. This has helped me enormously in my ministry.
One Christmas many years ago, Tom decided that he needed to drive his red truck all the way from St. Louis, Missouri to Nicaragua. It was an old beat up truck and we were all sure it wouldn't even make it out of St. Louis county. In our minds there were much more sensible things to do with the truck, but he was determined and God love him, he eventually got the truck all the way to Nicaragua so that the home for orphaned children would have transportation. It is the kind of compassionate, imaginative energy that I am going to miss most.
I am also going to miss his humor. He had a keen, satirical wit and he would have us laughing so hard that my sides hurt. Nobody and I mean nobody could get me laughing harder than Tom and it really made family gatherings amazing. He just needed to get that sly smile on his face and I knew something unbelievable was going to come out of his mouth.
I can remember as a kid, in high school, being so excited when Tom would come home and that feeling never ended.
One of the worlds' dreamers and vision casters is gone.
Rest in peace beloved brother.