It’s been a challenging summer for us and we’re still trying to recover. It’s fine, we’re fine. It just takes some time.
My friend Barb passed away over night on June 21. That week we drove to New Jersey to spend two days with our friends, celebrate her life, and attend her funeral. It was a wonderful two days, full of laughter, tears and lots and lots of hugging. I don’t mind all the hugging – I’m a sanguine, but even the melancholy temperaments hugged. It was as if we all had to touch each other, to make sure we’re all there.
On our way home from her funeral, the boy called us to tell us of Mr Tom’s passing. It wasn’t unexpected, I told you before that Roommate John was called home six weeks ago from school to be at his dad’s bedside.
I was calm while on the phone with him, encouraging him and working out his schedule so he can attend the funeral. I thought to myself, “God, where is the lesson in this? Teach me, tell me.”
I still don’t know the answer but I know He’s in all of it He’ll tell me one day.
Mr Tom was a pilot and he mentored the boys in many ways. They immediately formed a bond with him. He was one of the most experienced pilots in the country – and he had a leadership role in his company where he touched and cared for thousands of people.
He was also really witty – a laugh a minute and just so wonderfully pleasant to be around.
We just saw him in April when we all made the trip to North Dakota to see the boys for aviation parents weekend. He wasn’t well.
This was the first time we met – parents unite! It was October of 2012 and Tom was healthy and fit and still flying airplanes.
In August 2012, we left the boy in his dorm room and flew 1500 miles home and I broke out in hives. I wrote about it here – seems so long ago. The boy told us that week that Roommate John’s parents took him out to dinner and Mr Tom told us, “He was really happy to see us!”
We went up to parents’ weekend six weeks later and when we met, we had an instant connection, as if we’ve been friends our whole lives.
We all went to dinner together several times while during that weekend – it was a hoot. His wife Diane asked me if I knew the boys were asking to move off campus to an apartment. Mr Tom said incredulously, “They’ve been together six weeks, now they want to move out and get a dog and a maid?”
We laughed so hard.
He loved to take photos and here he is taking one of the boys. This photo was from less than two years ago. You know what? Three of these boys just moved into an apartment together last month.
Next will be the dog and the maid I’m sure. Too funny.
Over the next couple of years, we continued to make the trip up to school and attended hockey games and banquets & had meals together.
This was last fall at one of the hockey games or maybe it was a winter a couple of years ago. It really doesn’t matter because we had a blast every time we were together and our friendship with Mr Tom and Diane grew. They are just fantastic people.
I can’t tell you who enjoyed these weekends more, the boys or the parents. We loved soaking in the college environment and the boys loved getting free dinners and a chance to eat outside of their cafeteria.
I also like to think they missed their parents – a little bit?
Every time we got together we wore our Sioux wear. The NCAA has since forced the school to stop using the nickname. The contrarian in me now wear it all the time.
The other set of parents belong to Kyle. The boy stayed with them last weekend and they all attended Mr Tom’s funeral together. How in the world could we have known then what we would be doing less than two years later?
We were just having fun with our guys at a hockey game.
Life is short – you have to enjoy every moment when you can, as long as you can.
Tom wanted a photo of the dads who he called “The Bank.” Yes, it takes a lot of money to get our boys through flight school. It’s a good thing we can laugh about it – and we’re laughing all the way to the poorhouse which I guess is better than crying all the way there.
We made our way back up to Grand Forks this spring and saw Tom for the last time. He freely showed his affection and his pride for the boy and I loved him for that. It was on this trip that we prayed together, us and our boys. I read from 2 Corinthians. I hope I wasn’t too awkward, I did my best and prayed scripture would take it from there.
I take solace in knowing Tom is in heaven. It makes it so much easier for me to grieve his passing here on earth. I’m also grateful for his short presence in our lives. He was a special man.
If he can hear me, I would say to him, thank you for the example you have set with your life, thank you for being our friend, and thank you for loving our son.