Worst Christmas Card Ever…

Most of the time I try to add humor to my posts, but this won’t be one of them…I found out this week when I received a Christmas card in the mail, that a friend who I grew up with had been tragically killed when he was run over by a police car…as hard as that card was to receive, I can’t imagine how difficult it was for his wife to send…

For close to 30 years, Tom was the person who knew me better than anyone…at least until my wife came along anyway…my wife…who Tom introduced me to one hot day on the beach in Cape May, NJ…

…of course, as friends will do, Tom and his girlfriend…his future wife and now sadly his widow…also then took us (me) for a round of drinks that day at one of the beachside bars after a round of couples miniature golf they shamed us in…if I didn’t know any better, I would have said THAT was Tom’s true motivation for introducing me to my future wife…she was really bad at miniature golf…

Tom and I were part of a group of 8 friends who, starting in high school and into our 30’s did everything together…there were always other people who passed through our little Communal group from time to time, but once the nolvety of them wore off…well, you get it…mostly what we did together though, was drink…we also played a lot of bad golf together…it was Tom who took me golfing for the first time…he taught me a couple of lessons that day…Tom bounced a tee shot off my rear end as I was reaching into the cart to get a ball, then walked over, picked up his ball claiming a mulligan (a free do-over in golf)…still hear him laughing…he also taught me what a $2 Nassau in golf is…and how expensive it can be to lose every side of one…

As a friend, Tom was also supportive…when my mother passed away too soon, he (and my other friends) all came to the viewing, but it was Tom who took off work the following day to come to the burial and spend the next day with my family as well…some years later, after my wife and I had moved to PA, my father passed away…even though we had lost contact for some time…when my father was buried, it was Tom who came to pay his respects to my family…

Tom and I took a couple of vacations together…a week skiing in Killington, VT…a week where we each skied our first expert hills, ready or not…none of the other guys enjoyed skiing as much as we did…we also went golfing down in South Carolina…Tom’s father and mother once took Tom, his wife and newborn son, and my wife and I with them to Montego Bay for a vacation one cold winter…I remember Tom and I took a walk one afternoon off of the estate and surprisingly ended up in a beach bar where we spent several hours just talking and catching up on things…drinking too…but not like the old days…and watching some sort of photo shoot with women who were wearing varying styles of swimsuits…what can I say, we were still young…I remember walking home that day and we decided that we each had to get a coconut to take back with us…we also learned that it’s a lot harder than it sounds…especially after you’ve spent the last couple hours drinking Red Stripes…no matter how hard we tried to just shake them from the tree?… they weren’t coming down…not until we found a couple of large sticks laying close by and put 2 and 2 together…I remember a group of local girls walking by and laughing at our ridiculous efforts…at least we got one coconut any way… 

I was the Best Man at Tom and his wife’s wedding…and him at mine…we went to Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers games…I remember his father had gotten tickets for us to Game 5 of the 1983 World Series…even though we knew the Phillies were going to lose the series, I was still excited about going to the game…Tom felt the tickets would be more valuable if we scalped them for whatever we could get…the Phils lost 5-0 that day, ending the series…Tom was right…

…neither Tom nor I went to college, we were blue collar workers right out of high school…he worked for his uncle installing gas mains and services and I worked for the township where we lived…at least I did until I got a DUI one night on my way home with Tom after celebrating his birthday…sadly, my mother passed away the following year, on Tom’s birthday…I never celebrated another birthday with him again…and he never asked me to…

Tom and I saw less and less of each other after my wife and I moved to Pennsylvania…something I’ll forever regret…this week has brought back a lot of memories…some good…some not as much…I could write a book about growing up with Tom and our group of friends…I’m sure if I had taken more time I could have come up with a better tribute to my long-time friend…one thing Tom’s passing has taught me is I need to be a better friend…somehow I’ve forgotten what that means and how to do that…

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