Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blog Entry by Mom - 03.29.09

Dear Friends of Theresa and Tom,

With Theresa’s permission, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you: 18 years ago a friend of Theresa’s asked me, “have you met Theresa’s new friend?” In response to my surprised “no”, she said, “oh, he is so tall!”

Well, when I met Tom, I confirmed that he was indeed tall! However, over the next few years I experienced his joy and learned that Tom was not only physically tall, but that his heart and soul stood tall and big and that was what “Big Tom”, as we lovingly called him, stood for. Tom was a humble and quiet person who stood tall in any given situation. He would enter a room with a big smile and a friendly “hi”, but you could feel his presence and when he spoke, you would listen because what he said was always pleasant and good and of consequence. He was a person to learn from.

When Theresa and Tom got married, I gave a little talk along with a toast and a warm welcome to our new member of our family. I told Big Tom that along with keeping my promise to be a good mother-in-law, I would always look figuratively “up” to him. I have kept that promise and today with my eyes turned up to heaven, I say most lovingly and sincerely, “Tom, I truly will always look up to you!”

Your proud mother-in-law, Anne

Run for Rose - Great Day!

From Joanne our GREAT Team Leader!!

Thanks to everyone who came out and participated in the Run for the Rose yesterday! I think we made Tom proud!

I have posted some pics on my Facebook page. Follow the link below to take a look:

Thanks again, team! I hope we can do this again next year!

: ) Joanne

From Theresa

At this moment it has been eight weeks, eight hours, and 54 minutes since Tom went to Heaven. But as we could all tell on Sunday, he sure has the ability to come back down and visit! I KNOW he was with each of us as walked, ran, and told stories in his memory. Thanks to all of you: participants, supporters, and wish-I-could-have-been-there-folks. I love you all.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Next Run Update - directions and food plan!

Howdy team!
I am so excited to report that we have exceeded our team member goal! So far, there will be 12 of us running/walking this Sunday, March 29 in honor of Big Tom!

I will be picking up everyone's packet on Friday, March 27. Since I will have them, we will need to meet before the race at Reliant Stadium. Here's the plan for race day:

7:15: Park at Reliant Stadium. Free parking will be avail until 8am. You must enter Reliant Park from Kirby at McNee through Gate 10 and park in Red Lots 2 or 4. After you park, head to the Comcast Gate to meet the team and pick up your packet. I don't think they'll have a bag drop so plan on leaving everything in your car. The Comcast Gate is on the Northeast side of the stadium and faces the corner of Kirby and McNee. Not sure how big the gate area is, but let's all try and meet towards the left side (if you're looking at the stadium) of the gate.

7:40: Head toward the starting line which is outside the Coca Cola entrance on the Northwest side.

8:00: Start running/walking!

9:00: Since we all run at different speeds we'll just meet up at the finish line. I'm not sure where to tell everyone to meet, but they typically hand out bananas. If they are, stand in front of this area and we'll try to find everyone. If you can, run with your cell phone so we can call you if we can't find you. If for some reason you can't find the group, then just go to Berryhill.

9:30ish: Meet at the Berryhill Baja Grill located at 1717 Post Oak Blvd (at San Felipe) for breakfast. We will go dutch unless that creates a problem. It's tucked away behind the California Pizza Kitchen. They serve breakfast all day! Yay!

Big Tom's favorite color was blue so please try and wear a blue shirt! Theresa and I will be making Big Tom "signs" that everyone can pin on, but feel free to make your own tribute!

Last, but not least, please email me your cell phone number so I can have it just in case I get lost! ;-p

See you Sunday!
832-752-8808 cell

Monday, March 23, 2009

Update on Big Tom's Team Run for the Rose NEXT SUNDAY

Yay! We exceeded our team goal of 10 members yesterday! Of course we'd love to have additional folks run/walk with us, but for now here's the Big Tom Team:

Theresa Maria Strong
Joanne Vest
Donna Flynn
Michael Strong
Theresa Dawn Strong
Penny Wilson
Jill Russell
Cat Williams
Bette Moser
John Picciotto
Anna Rodriguez
Trey Quinn

I plan on picking up our packets on Friday, March 27 so we won't have to on race day. Since I will have them, we'll need to meet before the race at Reliant Stadium. I am trying to figure out a good place to meet up. As soon as I do I will post another comment here. If you have any ideas on a good place to meet let me know!

Please also send me your email and cell phone numbers so I can communicate more instructions and find you on race day! You can email them to

Last, but not least, since Tom's favorite color was blue, I think we should all wear blue on race day! So get those blue shirts ready!

832-752-8808 cell

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tom's watch (es)

For many years Tom wanted a nice watch. Really nice. Like Rolex or Tag. When was diagnosed (6/2007) I decided it was time for Tom to get his nice watch. He decided on Tag and I sent him shopping to the website. He decided on the model, sent the specs to me, and I went shopping. Then I freaked out. Those things cost $2000 or more! Holy smokes! Not even in my credit line!

Then I had a brain storm. Nicole had recently gone to the Premium Outlet Center in Palm Springs which had a Tag Heuer outlet and got a great deal. I searched for more of these outlet centers and found one near Dallas. By this time it was October and a fine time to get Tom his birthday watch. And as luck would have it there was a great trail run near the Center happening in just a few weeks. Two for One - Run a race and get a great deal on a watch!

We decided to go up and as I got ready to leave the office that Friday for the race / shopping adventure I printed maps on how to get to the outlet mall. At which point I checked opening hours and shop listings. Ok here is a point of wisdom...just because there is Tag shop in the Premium Outlet in Palm Springs does not mean there is one in the Premium Outlet in Dallas. Tag has outlets in New York, Florida, and Palm Springs. Only. hmmmm. So much for Two for One. We went up only for the race.

We came home and found out prices are generally the same all over Houston: high. Then I learned the Shopping Channel has a Watch Show with great prices. We ordered Tom's watch in November for about half the price (even with the extended warranty). It arrived a few weeks later and Tom was so proud and happy. He would call me several times a day just to tell me what time it was.

And then in December one of the features stopped working. It was this little arm that is supposed to show a second time zone. Tom wanted to send it back. Now the nightmare started. In summary, after literally months and months the watch was not back, no refund was being provided, and no end was in sight.

Tom had a recurrence and was going back for more surgery. I think it was April. Using my well-honed skills at focusing on the peripheral I decided there was no way Tom was going into an operation without his watch. After confirming the decision with Michael (who always picks heart over logic) I walked calmly into the house and told Tom one of the few blatant lies in our relationship. I explained we had a full refund on his first watch and were buying a new watch today. We went to the Galleria, found his watch and paid full price. (Those of you with mathematical brains now realize I just spent $3k on a watch I could not afford for $2k). We came home with Tom's new watch and he was so happy I never regretted the decision.

Months later (August I think) the original watch came back. Tom saw it and asked me why the watch was back. I then told the second lie: I said they screwed up and sent me the watch after the refund. He asked if I was returning it certified or regular. When I let him know I had no intention of returning it, he silently questioned my integrity. As my mom says “Lies have short little legs” but mine were in a full out sprint and I could not back down. From Tom’s perspective keeping something sent to me by mistake was not a typical Theresa action. Neither was lying. Neither was wishing I could blow up the entire Shopping Channel. But people respond as necessary sometimes....

I wore the watch proudly. It was just like Tom's.

When Tom passed away I gave the watch to Nicole. She loves big watches and Big Tom and it was a perfect memory for spending so much time helping Tom and I get through the last five weeks of his life.

When Nicole got home she saw the feature that tells the second time zone was not working. In retrospect I think they never fixed it. I never looked closely.

Nicole went to a jeweler who told her it would have to be sent to Tag and would cost a minimum of $450 to be fixed. True to her nature she started crying and told the sales man the entire watch story with lots of details about Big Tom and his recent death (in my mind it is a saga like Alice’s Restaurant). It took about 15 minutes. When she was done there was a long pause. Then the salesman looked closely at the watch and said to Nicole: "It seems to me that the reason you want to track the second time zone is that you want to easily see what time it is in Heaven. Tom died in Houston and it is safe to assume that for him, Heaven is in the same time zone as Houston. Since you talk to your sister every day you already know what time it is in Houston and therefore in Heaven. I don't think you need to get the watch fixed."

My guess is a saint was working in sales at that jewelry store that day.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tom's first guitar

On January 18, 2009 Nicole and I recorded a four minute conversation with Tom about his first guitar. It gives a lot of insight into Tom's determination to get a guitar and learn to play it.

(It also gives insight into Nicole and I: Turning on the recorder late, managing a conversation in the background, shushing a visitor that comes in, and not even knowing what Matchbox is).

But just hearing his voice and knowing now, how strong he still was mid-January makes me so very happy.

Click here to listen.

I'm still not sure about Matchbox but I found this Beatles video on YouTube and maybe it is the right song. Let me know if you think this is the first song Tom learned.

Click here to listen and watch.

New note: Check out Mikon's comment. I know know what Matchbox is :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tom's Video Journal

This is the video that we showed at the end of Tom's Memorial Service. It came from Tom's video journals he started making as soon as he was diagnosed.

Special Thanks to Hugh for the hard work.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Run for the Rose 5k - Big Tom's Team!

"We are continually faced with great opportunities which are brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems." - Margaret Mead

Hi friends,

There is this really cool race that gives 100% of the proceeds to Brain Cancer Research. It is kid and walker friendly and welcomes racers and non-racers alike.

It is called Run for the Rose 5k and this year it is Sunday, March 29. For more information about the race go to

Joanne Vest has set up a "Big Tom Team". This is what she wrote:

"... I have set up a team called "Big Tom's Team" so we can all run in memory of our dear friend. To register for the team please follow the steps below,

(1) Go to
(2) Click on the "Sponsor a Team" link.
(3) Click on the "Big Tom's Team" link.
(4) Click on the "Join Our Team" link.
(5) Click "I agree" on the waiver
(6) Fill out the registration form. Most of us will register for the "Adult - Noncompetitive 5K Run, 5K Walk & 1K Walk." If you like, create a personalized web page. Mine is "jv4tom".
(7) Click Continue and enter your payment information.
(8) Once you register you can edit your personal web page. Perhaps
consider adding your favorite picture of Tom!

If you want to join the team, but don't want to fundraise that is just fine! We'd love to have a big group out there walking or running the day of the event on Big Tom's Team!

Hope you can join us!


Now this is Theresa again. All of us can manage to stroll, walk, jog or run three miles. You don't need to fund raise, and I'll pay your entry if you want, just let me know! Everyone has already been more than generous. Let us know if you are joining us so we can meet up for a group photo or bagel or something.

Love, Theresa