Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tom's Eulogy from Ward

First: read I Corinthians 13:11-13

For those of you who don't know it, Tom and I were born on the same day. Yes, we are twins.

In our early years, we had our times when we laughed and played together. Then there were times that we fought and argued. We were born ten minutes apart. Tom being born first would never let me forget it. Then there were times Tom would be a bossy pain in the rear. I would take it up to the point to where I could no longer take his bossiness from him. Then as a result, we would come to blows. Dad would come into our room and say "If you guys want to fight, go outside and do it." Right after our Dad said that the fight would end and we would cool off in a hurry.

There were times when Tom saw me as an aggravating pain in the rear, and rightfully so. I used to hide behind doors, walls and in closets or where ever. I would then jump out, make a loud noise and scare the living daylights out of him. I'd also go to great lengths to aggravate him, and the methods I'd use would be too numerous to mention. He would get so mad that his eyes would narrow. He would then grit his teeth and his face would turn as red as a lobster. Then we would come to blows again, Dad would come and tell us to take It outside if we wanted to fight. Again we'd cool off in a hurry.

But, more often then not we enjoyed playing together. Together we played catch, checkers and other games. We had such fun playing games with one another. By the time we reached high school, we developed different interests. Tom was more into music and art, where I was more into physical fitness and sports. Even though we were twins, we were as different as night and day.

As we grew older our childish differences subsided and we became more like friends. Then as we grew into adulthood, he got into video production while I was more into landscaping and landscaping maintenance. We pretty much led our own lives. As time went on, we both would be so busy with our own lives that we rarely had time to see or speak with one another. When the holidays came around we would reunite and be together again. These times would be among the most joyous and memorable times of my life. We always gave each other a hug and we were glad to see each other.

Through all the years of knowing Tom, I have always admired him. His intelligence, his talents, the fact that he was never shy and his ability to make friends easily. Yes, Tom and I had some good times together and we also had our bad times. But through our bad times we always had enough room in our hearts to forgive each other. The love we had for each other was much stronger than any differences we might have had. We never held a grudge against each other. Yes, I am very sorrowful over the loss of my twin brother, but I am also very joyful for his gain.


You've been an outstanding brother as well as an outstanding individual


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tom's remains

Tom was cremated per his wishes. He also suggested a specific place in the hill country to drop his "ashes." I use the term "ashes" loosely because as you may know, that is not an accurate term. It is more like little rocks the size of those that go in fish bowls. And there are a lot of them.

At any rate I was heading to Austin this weekend and felt it was the perfect opportunity to take the next step. But then I started freaking out. I am just not ready for such a major step. Then I started thinking about this project my friend Jen and her kids have been working on. They have this cut out called "Flat Stanley" (I think). And everywhere they go they take pictures of Flat Stan like at a crawfish boil, and on an Easter Egg Hunt, etc. So combining this idea with missing Tom horribly and distributing his ashes, and good family advice, I am going to send him all over the place in little baggies. I am even making a "Flat Tom" to photograph the distributions.

And although it sounds like I am making light of this it is very, very serious. I want Tom's little rocks to be in many, many cool places. If you are going somewhere very fine or even somewhere Tom would love please let me know. I would be honored to give you a baggie of little rocks and the Flat Tom to use in a photo documentation.

With love,


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tom's Eulogy from David

Let me tell you about my friend & colleague Tom. As we are here to celebrate his life, I was trying to find some words that would help draw a picture of the man that Tom was. There were many that came to mind, but these 4 kept coming back.

Passionate – about life, Theresa, his work, the people he worked with, his extended family and friends.

Driven – to enjoy what he was able to do, and making the best it could be.

Creative – the idea of taking basically nothing, maybe just an idea, and creating something that others would appreciate.

Principled – always do the right thing – always.

I want to tell you a story that I believe encapsulates all of these virtues and illustrates the Tom I knew and loved.

A few years back, Tom came to us and told us about an opportunity to produce a video about the death penalty in Texas. The client didn’t have a big budget, but it would be this little production – no more than 15 maybe 17 minutes, shoot in Houston, and we knock it out in no time. Tom really wanted to do this – that’s where the passion and the drive came. He wanted to create some thing that could be used for the greater good – that’s where the creativity and principle came in. After we messed with the budget for a few days, I showed it to Tom and asked "can you make this work?" Before I finished the sentence, he said yes! I don’t even think he looked at the paper – he wanted this project.

Now remember – it was only supposed to be a short video shot in Houston. Well - when Tom came back from shooting in San Antonio, and Austin (after they shot in Houston), I asked how things were going. I was assured everything was OK. The first rough cut of the “little video” was a mere 64 minutes. Just slightly longer than the original 15 – 17. Tom said “don’t worry, I have it under control”.

I can proudly tell you that there exists a 60 min, 30 min, 22 min. and I even think there is s 45 minute version of that video. Needless to say we didn’t make a dime on that project, but it really didn’t matter. It was the experience, the right thing to do. That video has been seen all over the world, and Tom and everyone who worked on it was unbelievably proud of it. In many ways Tom became the conscious of Gotham. Always pointing us to the right direction, making sure we saw the bigger picture.

Because of the type of work we do, traveling is part of the job. I have shared many flights with Tom - lots of early mornings, very late nights and long weekends. Sitting in the back of a dark ballroom at 2 o’clock in the morning, Tom and I would often try to solve the world’s problems, debate the Beatles Vs. Springsteen and why the Astros just couldn’t get over the hump. No matter how bizarre the situation we found ourselves in, Tom’s good spirits always lightened the load.

4:30 am in a hotel lobby – everyone’s dragging. Here comes Tom with his famous line -"what, and give up show business!"
On a shoot, trying to get the last 2 shots done and it starts to rain – "what, and give up show business!"
Client making changes to the script 5 minutes before the show – "what, and give up show business!"

These were the times that Tom was at his best. Always trying to make the situation better, lighten the load for everyone else and let everyone know we were in it together. It was just a few short years ago that we were going to be on show site in San Diego for Tom’s 50th birthday. I wanted to do some thing special, and finally came up with renting a sailboat. Of course, the client swamped us, and Tom was getting a bit anxious because he really wanted to go sailing. Finally, we get out of the convention center and go flying over to the dock. We were supposed to go out at about 1 pm. It was now 5 and they were getting ready to close. In all my years knowing Tom, I never saw him run – until that day. He went flying down the dock yelling – "we're here, we're here". Of course they had no idea who he was – but when you see a 6 foot 2 guy running at you yelling "we're here, we're here" you take notice.

Ok – so now we're on this beautiful 35’ sailboat heading out. Tom, the boat captain and me. We told the captain that it was Tom’s birthday and we were in town working and magically a cooler of beer suddenly appeared. After a few toasts, we were out in San Diego bay. The sun was slowly beginning to set, the breeze was kicking up, and we are just enjoying the ride. The next thing I know, the captain asks Tom if he has ever sailed before. Tom said no, and 10 seconds later the captain put Tom at the wheel. There’s Tom- wind in his hair, guiding that boat through the waves in the right direction. He was like a kid in a candy store – big eyes, bigger smile. Tom asked me to take some pictures of him quickly with his camera, because he thought he was only going to have the opportunity to sail the boat for a few minutes. 90 minutes later, Tom is still at the wheel, big smile, sparkle in his eyes, pointing it in the right direction. I don’t have a single copy of any of those pictures I took that day – I don’t need them. That moment – that picture will live on in my heart forever. I don’t need it on a piece of paper.

Now that you have that image in your mind – I have a challenge to each of you…. Whenever you think of Tom – only think of him doing something he loved, doing something special or surrounded by the special people in his life. Don’t think of him in the hospital or being ill. If you truly want to celebrate his life, then always remember to point yourself in the right direction and never ever give up show business!

(Note: I found this picture recently in Tom's office - Theresa)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tom's Eulogy from Jean

On behalf of the family and friends of Tom Lawrence thank you for coming today to pay tribute to his life. Let us pray:

Our Father, we ask your blessing on all present today as we honor this child of yours as he begins his journey to your presence. May your light shine upon us all and your love and glory be a part of our lives each day. Amen.

Before I begin, I wish to pay personal tribute to the friendship and love of this man I have known and taught for over 22 Years. This is just one example of his kindness and understanding of others: As he spent each evening that week with me, 2 years ago while my only son was dying with cancer of the colon. We had only known for less than 3 weeks that that my Son was ill, he was 55 years old and appeared to be in good health. He and his fiancée arrived here at the MD Anderson Hospital for the last 10 days of his life –Tom made it a point to have dinner with me in the cafeteria and visited with some of the many who came to see my son, some of whom he already knew.

Tom picked me up at the airport and delivered me to the airport each of the 4 times that I needed transportation to and from the airport. After my son passed on, his fiancée Kathy, and I spent 2 days arranging for his transfer to El Paso for the funeral and Tom took the time to take Kathy and I to lunch and the airport in the middle of the day. I could not have asked for a more caring friend during this most grievous and painful event of my whole life.

Tom also had a great sense of humor and one of the best examples I had was in 1995 late in November we decided to have the annual conference out of town and arranged to go to Oklahoma’s Lake Murray Camp. He called to say he would be arriving later since some 15 carloads were going to caravan early that morning. Only one of my students had been to the camp with me before--- so she would pick him up at the airport and come on.

Getting this many organized and on the road took a while and patience but finally we were on our way! My group had begun to call on my cell phone to get me to stop in Lewisville for gas and whatever. So as I started to pull off the exit my car phone rang. Frustrated at one more call, I punched the speaker button so I could hear, and one of my students from out of town who had not met my entire group and was curious about them was also listening.

Out of the blue came a deep voice sounding, very military, that I did not recognize:

“Is this the Mother ship?”

Frustrated I replied, “Who is this?”

And the voice said, “This is Bluebird One checking in.”

I was stunned and it got very quiet as I didn’t know what to say for I had no idea what he was talking about----

Then an eruption of laughter and I just broke up for it was Tom and Martha and he had caught an earlier flight and they calling to let me know were close behind us. . My passenger, Tom French from Miami doubled up with laughter and still does when the story is told to this day—and it still is-----

Death is indeed a transition – a transition from the material into the beginning of our real life – the spirit life that lasts forever. For those of us here, think of Tom as though he has gone on an extended vacation. You will see him again in the future.

In the beginning after death, we are asleep. We are told that the “passing of time is of no moment to the sleeping mortal. He is wholly unconscious and oblivious to the length of his rest.”

The physical body is not a part of the resurrection of the sleeping survivor. It has returned to dust; but your guardian angels sponsor your new body that will contain your soul, the sacred trust that your guardian angel has kept for you until you are awakened. You will again have the same Fragment of the Father or Divine Spirit that indwelt you through this life, and He has kept the spirit transcript of your mind intact for you to have in your new life.

Think about this: the only thing we can see of ourselves now is our physical body. But we believe and accept that we have a soul, consciousness, mind, selfhood, intellect, free will, personality, conscience, and our God Fragment or Divine Spirit as well as being indwelt with the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Truth.

Isn’t it interesting that none of these ingredients are a material or visible part of us and yet everything we are, can be, or will be – our very life itself – is totally dependent upon these ingredients – none of which we can see, feel, or touch. We accept that they exist because of evidence and experience.

Well, God is not seeable or touchable in the physical sense. But He does exist and is the cause of everything we can ever know. Our very own Fragment of the Father comes down from Paradise to help us in the long journey back to Paradise. Every step of the way we have His incredible guidance and loving care – and yes, even here we have that – if we listen, are willing to change our way of life---- and pay attention.

There truly exists within you a conspiracy of spiritual forces, a confederation of divine powers, whose exclusive purpose is to affect your final deliverance from material bondage and finite handicaps.

The purpose of all this ministration is, “That you may be strengthened with power through His spirit in the inner man.” And all this represents but the preliminary steps to the final attainment of the perfection of faith and service, that experience wherein you shall be "filled with all the fullness of God," "for all those who are led by the Divine Spirit of God are the sons of God."
And when such a life of spirit guidance is freely and intelligently accepted, there gradually develops within the human mind a positive consciousness of divine contact and assurance of spirit communion; sooner or later "God bears witness with your spirit (the Fragment of the Father) that you are a child of God."
The consciousness of the spirit domination of a human life is presently attended by an increasing exhibition of the characteristics of the Spirit in the life reactions of such a spirit-led mortal, "for the fruits of the spirit are--- Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance."

These characteristics describe the Tom I that I came to know and love as a son, beautifully.

Such spirit-guided and divinely illuminated mortals, while they yet tread the lowly paths of toil ---and in human faithfulness perform the duties of their earthly assignments, have already begun to discern the lights of eternal life as they glimmer on the faraway shores of another world; --- already have they begun to comprehend the reality of that inspiring and comforting truth, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."

Having started out on the way of life everlasting, having accepted the assignment and received your orders to advance:
Do not fear the dangers of human forgetfulness and mortal inconstancy,
Do not be troubled with doubts of failure or by perplexing confusion,
Do not falter and question your status and standing,
For in every dark hour, at every crossroad in the forward struggle, the Spirit of Truth will always speak, saying, "This is the way."

The Spirit never drives, only leads.
- If you are a willing learner,
- If you want to attain spirit levels and reach divine heights,
- If you sincerely desire to reach the eternal goal,
Then the Divine Spirit will gently and lovingly lead you along the pathway of sonship and spiritual progress.

Every step you take must be one of willingness, intelligent and cheerful cooperation. The domination of the Divine Spirit is never tainted with coercion nor compromised by compulsion.

Tom was ordained as a Minister in the Michaels Church on November 9, 2002.

My beautiful group of three in the middle Tom Lawrence, Mike Horton, and Diane Cowdenwith Mary assisting)

Tom wrote the following for the history book about the Michaels Foundation as a record of his feelings and thoughts on this day.

Tom Lawrence’s Memories
My own ordination, the third in Michael’s church, was a magical day as well. Much different than the first, but very special in its own way. Again high energy, but it was much more electric. I was receiving considerable help from my friends and from God. This energy, while being warm was also energizing. I was operating on a different plane of reality, and in many respects the whole experience was like a living dream.

This was a day that was the culmination of many things, and the beginning of a journey. It was at the same time a day of pride, and extremely humbling. The reality of a person who had so totally missed the path and the message that was living inside of himself his entire life, could come to this public declaration and promise to teach any way possible and become ordained into a church of applied truth, is indeed proof that anything is possible through God.

It was a fun day too! There were three of us being ordained this day, Mike Horton, Diane Cowden, and myself, and I remember there being much commotion in the room behind the sanctuary where we were all preparing. Not unlike the commotion of a wedding ceremony, people smiling and laughing, lot of talking and a lot of people trying to maintain an air of decorum at the same time. I remember that there was a lot of other “stuff”, things we had to work around in the room that added to the general commotion.

Finally, things were set, Jean came in with last minute instruction, and when she did I felt a fireball, her energy again so strong, had hit me. I paid attention as best I could, I remember hoping that I wouldn’t trip or faint once the ceremony began, and then it began. When it did, and once I was still on the altar in the church, it was as though I was being held by God. I could see Him in the faces of all those I looked upon. My strength and my purpose were His. I could hardly wait to do what I could, what I would be led to do to help spread the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven and the love of the living God!
End Tom Lawrence’s memories

The students who had been ordained wanted to stand with the three in their robes as a show of solidarity. What a beautiful sight!

In conclusion:

“Men all too often forget that God is the greatest experience in human existence. Other experiences are limited in their nature and content, but the experience of God has no limits save those of the creature's comprehension capacity, and this very experience is in itself capacity enlarging.

When men search for God, they are searching for everything.
When they find God, they have found everything.

The search for God is the unstinted bestowal of love attended by amazing discoveries of new and greater love to be bestowed.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

Saving Stuff and Tom in High School

A few posts ago I gave suggestions on how to prepare your paperwork to make it easier for your mate, kid, or family member to manage if you got sick or died. Here is my next suggestion: get rid of your junk.

Being a pack rat is cute and people that are such tend to blush, shake their head, act coy, and everyone is amused that they amass great amounts of silly things. After all, what harm does it do?

Allow me to tell you. With great love in my heart I have gone through more boxes of stuff and paper than I can count. I have 10 boxes of books and two truckloads of garage sale stuff already done. David has taken another full car load of stuff off to review. Sam Larch helped me go through boxes and boxes of cables. The trash got eighteen boxes already. I have not even started on three closets, two dressers, and two long shelves of clothes.

The three file cabinets have not been touched nor have the two office closets. I will only briefly touch on boxes of software, CDs, mini-discs, DVDs, and photo envelopes that need review.

I don't need help and am limiting myself to 5-10 minutes a day so that I don't end up getting over zealous and throwing out good or important stuff (plus, limiting effort results in job security). But please, don't make someone go through your 1977 tax return and 1980s National Geographic collection just in case there is something real important hidden inside. I have so much to shred that I am considering calling Iron Mountain.

That said I have found some gold. Check out Tom in his high school days.

I love him dearly and wish he was here even with his stuff but I promise, Tom here without his stuff would be even better. Clean out your stuff, but if you must, save your high school yearbooks.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Big Tom’s Eulogy with Love - Nicole

Big Tom’s Eulogy as shared by Nicole Strong at Tom's Memorial Service 2.2.09

“Big Tom” as he was affectionately known, was to most of us, a gentle man with a soft laugh, and few words. But once you got to know him, you saw why Theresa fell in love with him. Big Tom was the quirkiest guy with the driest sense of humor I have ever met.

One day we were in the hospital, Tom was suffering from terrible sores on his bottom. All of our best efforts to get him a special cream to relieve the pain proved unsuccessful. Finally after days of trying to get the cream, as Tom was getting a full bath in bed, lying there in all his naked glory, the cream arrived. Cheers and high-fives went up all around the room. As the room began to quiet, Tom, in his usual dry-wit, deadpanned, “I would have never fathomed in my wildest dreams that one day I would be excited about butt cream”.

Tom is a man of few words. But, unlike many of us. Tom chose his words deliberately, if sparingly. One night as we shared dinner, overlooking a beautiful Houston sunset in the hospital room. I asked Tom if he was afraid of dying. Think about that for a moment. The man was in a hospital with a terminal disease, already having outlived the predicted timeline. Tom stared deeply into my eyes and raised a finger. “You want to know the answer?”, he said. “Love. Love is the answer. Love is the answer to everything. If you love---everything in the whole world will work itself out."

That was Tom. The common thread that wove thru his life was optimism and gratitude. His journal, over and over, spoke of love and blessings. Bitterness, anger, railing at the unfairness of it all? Not once. Rather, everything reflected both spirituality, and the power of choice.

July 24. “We have the power to choose how something is going to affect us. We can choose to be mad and complain, or we can choose to deal with the challenge with a good attitude and a smile. It sounds a little simplistic here, but try it, and try it sincerely. If you have not already experienced the power of choice and good positive thinking, you will be amazed at just how powerful it can be! Mix in practicing your faith with the power of choice and you have an unbeatable combination."

But you see, that is where Tom was different. He practiced - daily, his beliefs. Many of you know that Tom was an ordained minister, yet never once was Tom “preachy”. He exemplified the belief of St. Francis of Assisi - “At all times, preach the gospel. When necessary, use words”. The closest I ever saw Tom become negative was on 7.12.08- “It has not all been morning glories and buttercups though”. God, I love him.

Tom was first and foremost, an unusually happy guy with an easy laugh. After one particular grueling physical therapy session at the hospital I said gently to Tom, “Would you like a little nap?” Without missing a beat Tom said, “Actually, what I’d like to do is play 18 holes at Pebble Beach.”

Regrets? For Tom, not many. Tom was one of the rare individuals perfectly content in his own skin. Austin, my better half, has said to me in tears, “I’ll really miss Tom. He got me. No one really gets me, but Tom did.” I think many of us would agree.

Peace. 7.17.07 “Today I enjoyed watching the egrets fly. In pairs, low over the water. Just cruising and easy as you please. I’ve always wanted to fly. The first thing I can remember ever wanting to be is an astronaut. I would say I dream of soaring like an eagle, but that’s too passé. The Carlos Castenada stories from the teachings of Don Juan had to do with him turning into an eagle and flying. This has made such an impression on me.”

Joy. Halloween, 08. “I love the sound of old time jangly guitars-bright and happy. Sounds that make you pick up your feet, sounds that let you know that there is so much more to life. Let’s make that kind of music! Every moment should be a celebration!”

So on that note, let’s honor Tom’s request. Let’s celebrate. Let’s practice gratitude. Let us love.

Finally, I would like to leave everyone with a smile. In one particularly insightful journal entry, well after his diagnosis, Tom wrote, “The idea that Keith Richards could survive me in death is so ironic to me-a bit twisted yes-but so sublime in the perfection of it all-Humor me with this one-it’s really funny."

We’ll miss you Big Tom.