Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tom on Big Tom's Thumb

Nicole and Austin live in an amazing place. About a 28 minute drive from her house, and five minutes from Scottsdale (technically at Bell and 104th St.) there is a trail head into the Sonoran Preserve. There are dozens of miles of trails there ranging from really-really-hard to just-plain-old-hard.

Starting at 5:00 a.m. (if you know Nicole you will confirm this is 100% accurate) we began a wonderful 14.5 mile hike. Parts of it were very challenging as we were climbing up one side of the range and coming down the other. At the pinnacle of our hike was (Big) Tom's Thumb. It is a rather large collection of boulders standing just as tall as you please.

You can see the Thumb in the first picture and there is a close up in the second. There Tom's pebbles joined many, many, other rocks and sand and promptly blew the lightest particles into my face (shades of The Big Lebowski).

We made it back to Nicole and Austin's home by 11 am where I promptly "napped" for a solid three hours. It was a deep sleep with good dreams.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tom on the Dixie Mine Trail

Tom loved hiking Arizona. Not as much as golfing but he did like the peace and quiet and hot, dry days. Some of Tom joined Nicole and I on the Dixie Mine Trail in the McDowell Mountains. He now rests there comfortably watching the lizards and snakes and seeing the beautiful night sky.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Through a chain of several people I came in communication with Rona and Leanne Williams who are doing the 2009 Ride to Conquer Cancer in honor of their brother Gavin. Gavin died of brain cancer on Feb 1, 2009, the day before Tom. Rona, Leanne and I have emailed back and forth several times and I also I have also communicated with Gavin's wife Tamera. They seem like wonderful people as you can tell by an email Rona sent me:

"The two days of the ride I will be carrying a picture of Gavin with me, I would like to bring Tom's pic along too. Know that, and know that our family team will ride in honour of both men. If you have a pic of Tom you particularly like, you can send it to me and I'll be proud to ride with it. Again, I'd like to extend a huge heartfelt thank you to you, I have reached my goal as of today and now I continue to train with Leanne, Tamara and Ed so we have an amazing couple of riding days together. Your contribution and connection has had a profound effect on our family, I wish for you to have experienced similar compassion that makes you know that somewhere Tom and Gavin have a sense of all this going on and they realize the impact that they have had on all of us."

On June 13 and 14 please send a quick prayer or thought to their team "Wheezin for a Reason" and know that there is another group of family and friends hurting and working just as much as we are.

For more information on Rona and the ride visit:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tom's Pebbles on a Golf Course

Tom loved to play golf. He learned from his father when he was very young and throughout his life spent many (many, many) hours playing. One of his special experiences was actually getting to play St. Andrews during a trip we took to Scotland.

One of our favorite memories was playing in Fountain Hills, AZ. We went to visit Nicole and Austin and set Tom up for a game at a nearby course. What we forgot is that Nicole lives quite near Scottsdale and they don't have golf "courses" there they have "resorts". We were quickly faced with the choice between making a mortgage payment or getting a round of golf. We compromised, and scheduled the game mid-week, mid-day. So we had the place to ourselves and 110 degree temperature (but it's a dry heat).

It was hot but really fun and Tom loved it. One of the highlights was seeing the sun move from overhead to a bit to the west, and in the process cast a shadow the exact shape of a saguaro cactus on the ground. The next time we looked, there were three little bunnies lined up in the shadow trying to get out of the heat. That was such a fun memory.

As suburban as it sounded I really hoped some day we could live (and not work) in a place where Tom could play golf day in and out. He loved being on the course.

To a small degree a part of that dream was achieved today. Nicole and I placed some of Tom's pebbles at Sun Ridge on the first tee. It was a beautiful cool afternoon and I know Tom was so very, very happy. Have a good game babe, I'll see you at the club house.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tom's Pebbles at His Childhood Home

Tom was born at Hermann Hospital in Houston but moved to San Antonio when he was a child. At some point his family moved to Arlington, Texas where he lived with his family until he went off to North Texas State University. I think Tom also came home during some summers until he graduated with a degree in Radio, Television, and Film.

When Tom's mom, Claire, read the blog about Tom's pebbles, she asked if some of Tom could go back to his childhood home. Right before Mother's Day Tom arrived and holds a place of honor back in Arlington, Texas.

(My apologies for the quality of the picture. It came from Google Maps.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tom's ashes - Skydiving with Don Strong

When I posted the idea of having Tom's ashes scattered in many places by many people two concerns were raised: One was that I would offend someone, the other was that no one would respond. Both fears were unfounded. There are plans to have Tom all over the country in many cool places. We started last weekend.

My brother Michael and his wife Theresa held a wedding party in Austin that started Friday with skydiving. Tom had jumped out of planes many years ago. Like so many things I have no idea of the details: how old he was, where he jumped, or how many times. But I know he loved it and wanted to do it again.

Within ten minutes of posting the blog my dad emailed asking if Tom could jump with him. My dad had also jumped many years before and loved it.

On a warm evening, with the sun going down, my dad and Tom jumped out of the plane with a terrific tandem instructor. Once the shoot opened my dad released some of Tom and together the instructor and my dad said a prayer.

Tom's little pebbles fluttered to earth alongside one the people that loved Tom the most in the world, and went out of his way to show it. Tom and my dad were a terrific team and it is a glorious start to Tom's return to the earth. Thank you dad.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thoughts from Tom's mom and sister

Thoughts from Tom's mom, Claire Lawrence, emailed to me on Feb 6, 2009 and posted at his celebration.

Chris and Ward have covered their memories of their brother (which are also mine) of the earlier years, so I shall try to be very brief in the thoughts I have of Tom's adult life.

He was always a very caring and loving son. He never forgot a birthday of mine, Valentine's Day, Christmas or any other important time during the year. If he couldn't be with me I would receive a beautiful card, and/or a lovely gift and a phone call if he was within calling distance. When he would call, and not only on special occasions, but just to chat, he never failed to end our conversations by saying, "I love you, Mom." When he wanted to make me laugh, he would end them by saying, "I love you madly."

Every time I look through my home, I see a gift that he gave to me.

I was overjoyed when he found Theresa. What a wonderful person he chose to share his life with. He lived richly and wholeheartedly. He was a real fighter, and a brave person though his long illness, with a optimistic and positive outlook. His faith was very deep.

Tom was my son, but during tough times he became my "buddy." I will miss him more than I can say.

Goodbye, Tom.

Some interesting things I remember about Tom:
by Chris Lawrence Hughes (big sister)

When Tom was a baby, and at the crawling stage, he had a unique “inch
worm” kind of crawl. He would get on his hands and knees, then roll
forward, scootch his back legs back up so he was on his hands and knees
again, the roll forward again. He crawled that way for a long time.

Tom and his twin brother, Ward, communicated in a “secret twin
language” when they were very small that only they and I could
understand. I would have to translate it for the grownups.

Ward’s name for Tom for many of their early years was “Pippin”.
No one knows where that came from.

Tom discovered girls as soon as he started school and always had a
little girl friend (fortunately, he found the perfect match later in
life, Theresa). When he was in kindergarten, he told me he was
fascinated by girls’ hair, and how it was actually many different
colors when you parted it in the back. What an artist!

Always sweet and good-natured, he would always greet me with a big hug
around my knees, even when I was a mean big sister to him.

When Tom started first grade, on the first day, he was very nervous and
scared. Mom was concerned, and when the principal asked how he was
doing, Mom asked her to peek in on him in the classroom. Well, Tom was
making a face (Crossing his eyes and sticking out his tongue) at a kid
across the table when the principal looked in, and said to Mom, “Well,
Mrs. Lawrence, he seems perfectly all right.”

Tom had the lead in his first grade play, and played a spaceman. I
can’t remember anything else about it, sorry.

He was smart… always did real well in school, and always had lots of

Dad used to take Tom and Ward (and sometimes me) to the golf driving
range every Saturday morning. I don’t think those balls got hit too
far, but the orange pop afterwards was worth it!

Tom and I shared a deep interest in rock n roll when we reached
adolesence. I had guitar lessons, showed Tom a few chords, and off he
went… he played in his friend’s band for a little while, had friends
come and jam, and also ran the lights and sound later on for a
friend’s band. At one point, he bought a “pignose”, a small
amplifier that gives the guitar a “fuzz” sound. It drove Mom crazy!
Rock’n’Roll was the subject of many long, delightful conversations
between us.

When Tom was freelancing, he did a promo for the Rolling Stones, and
Keith Richards gave him his scarf. I wonder if he still has it?

I’ve always admired Tom for being able to work in a competitive field
like the media business. He got to work at a career he loved, and
excelled at it.

Tom and Theresa had a wonderful life together – getting to travel the
world, running marathons all over the country, pursuing careers they
loved. I’m very happy that Tom found someone as special as Theresa to
share his life with. Theresa, thank you for loving my brother so much,
and for taking such good care of him.