Tommy thought my mom hung the moon, and I loved him for that. In his mind, she should have won American Idol, the presidency, and every other office a person can hold. (He was right.)
Tommy cherished his daughters more than I knew one human could cherish another human being. The expression of his love couldn’t be overlooked or bypassed. It was in the sound of his voice, the way his face lit up in conversation, and the fact that he wouldn’t think twice before giving what was his.
The times he made me (and everyone else) laugh can’t be counted, and the value of that joy can’t be measured. His antics roll through my mind like a string of sound bytes. I can’t imagine that there will come a day when a bottle of ketchup or an interstate exit lane won’t trigger fond and funny memories.
Like the time we were searching for a birthday gift for mom on Sundance Square in Fort Worth. He took me to a fancy restaurant, ordered the most expensive steak I’d ever seen, set aside the gourmet sauce, and slathered his New York Strip with ketchup that it pained the chef to provide.
That one time–not too long after Tommy and I first met–when we were driving back home from somewhere and got into a serious conversation. I asked Tommy if he believed in Jesus. He said that He did, because he’d seen Jesus in my mom. We continued to discuss life and faith until Tommy decided to pass the car in front of us and nearly hit an oncoming Volkswagen beatle. He laughed and I nearly cried.
Then there was the time I insisted on buying used baby furniture on Craig’s list, and Tommy went with me to make sure I didn’t get kidnapped. When he missed the exit, he just put the truck in reverse and backed it up. Nevermind that we were speeding down I-30 at the time. Later, he missed a turn and hopped the median. The baby’s crib was OK, but I weighed my options before climbing into a vehicle with him again.
Then roles reversed one morning and I drove him to dialysis.We listened to the song “Hello” the entire way, because “Adela,” as he called her, was his favorite. Besides mom, of course.
For all of these reasons, Tommy will always hold a special place in my memory. But the quickest way to win over a mother-heart is by loving her child well. Tommy did that better than almost anyone.
When I think about the fact that my sweet Olivia will never again experience the strength of his embrace or the voice that sent her into a fit of giggles every time–my heart grieves.
I wish that he’d be here to tell me to “put some socks on that baby”–even in the middle of summer and despite the fact that it’s blazing hot. After all, opening the windows instead of turning on the air conditioner saves money.
He loved my Olivia so much, and my heart aches to think that there will be no more phone conversations about whether she’s gaining weight. What I wouldn’t give to hear, “How’s that baby?” just one more time.
Mothers always think that their kids are special, but when Tommy looked at Olivia, he beamed like he’d just won an Oscar. In my book, he deserved an award every time he occupied the same room with my baby girl. I always knew that his presence meant that my little one was adored. The amazing thing is that he did no less for each of his other grandchildren.
The Bible says:
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”–John 13:35
Tommy loved, and he was loved. He will be greatly missed.