Monday, August 31, 2009

Tom's Pebbles in Greece

Tom’s Adventures in Greece - With Love from Joanne Vest

When Theresa first blogged that she wanted “Tom's little rocks to be in many, many cool places” I was bummed because I had no plans to go anywhere cool. A few weeks later I found myself booking a flight to Greece. I immediately asked Theresa if I could take Tom with me. She graciously said yes and shortly before my trip she brought me a baggie and the Flat Tom photo.

As I was finishing up my packing, I picked up the baggie and was struck by the peculiarity of holding the ashes of a dear friend in my hands. After a few minutes of tearful reflection, my thoughts began to turn to more logistical concerns. How the heck was I going to get Tom to Greece? Two of my three travel companions were attorneys and weren’t so sure it was even legal. My mom was worried sick that I would get arrested for cocaine possession when I went through security at IAH or Charles de Gaulle. Honestly, I was less concerned about getting arrested and more concerned Tom might be confiscated and spend eternity in a bin full of scissors, 4 oz shampoo bottles, and lighters. I decided to divide him into two baggies, one for my carry on and one for my checked bag, in hopes that at least one of them would make it. To my immense relief both made it safely!

Initially I was just going to take Tom diving with me in Mykonos so he could be part of the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea. But when I arrived in Greece I decided that he might also enjoy being a part of the splendid history of Athens and the breathtaking beaches of Santorini and Mykonos. So I picked the following places that I hoped my dear friend Tom would enjoy.

Odeion of Agrippa, Ancient Agora, Athens
While the nearby Parthenon at the Acropolis would have been the obvious choice, I picked the Odeion of Agrippa in the Ancient Agora of Athens for two reasons. First of all, the plaque by the site said it was a theater where musical performances were held. I figured Tom would feel at home here.

Secondly, although it’s hard to tell from the photo, he has an amazing view of the Acropolis and the Temple of Hephaistos as seen below.

Red Beach, Santorini
On August 3, I rented an ATV on Santorini and I set out to explore the island. My goal was to find Red Beach, one of the island’s most beautiful beaches known for its amazing backdrop of red volcanic rock. Not surprising, given the fact that all the street signs seemed to be pointing the way to sororities and fraternities with really long names, I got lost and ended up riding around for hours. Honestly, I didn’t really mind that much. After all, I knew I was on a pretty small island and I had Tom with me the whole time which I found strangely comforting. It was like I had a guardian angel riding along with me as I wound my way down the steep and windy roads. Needless to say I finally found Red Beach. It was even more breathtaking than I expected. I debated whether to place Tom on the beach or on the ridge above where the path down to the beach begins. I opted for the ridge. The view was just too magnificent! Hope Tom agrees!

Paradise Point, Paradise Beach, Mykonos
On August 5, I headed to Paradise Beach where Mykonos’s only dive shop is located. The dive master snapped this photo of us near the end of the dive at Paradise Point. When I returned to shore Flat Tom was gone. Despite the fact I was certain I had put him back securely in the pocket of my BC. I guess Flat Tom really liked this spot and decided to stay.

Plati Gialos Beach, Mykonos
Around midnight on August 6, despite Flat Tom’s absence, I held a private ceremony on Plati Gialos Beach where I said goodbye to the rest of Tom’s pebbles. When he had washed completely away, I found myself regretting not keeping a little bit of him. But then I realized I always would in my heart.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Class Paper - Life Viewed From the Golf Course

Tom loved golfing.
He never did it enough, but put him on a driving range, putting green, or a beautiful course and he was so very happy. The picture above is of Tom playing St. Andrews in Scotland. He played with his buddy, Gary while I took pictures, looked for abandoned balls and ate oranges. It was a magical day.

In going through Tom's files I happened upon this paper he was writing for his Urantia class. It was not finished but gives such insight into Tom that it so deserves to be read. Here we go:

Life as viewed from The number 7 tee box of the Olmos Basin Golf course.

I had the rare opportunity of being introduced to golf at an early age. My father brought home a couple of sawed –off 7-irons for my brother and myself one evening after work, and that was pretty much the beginning of the end for the back yard. I had no idea at the time how that single event would provide a window to the world, to myself, and to many of the lessons of life.

Looking back on it now, it never ceases to amaze me how God provides the things that we need when we need them, even though we don’t realize at the time that we do need them. There was a driving range not far from the house, and soon after we started to accompanying Dad to the driving range, the owner installed a nine-hole par 3 course. Not a better training ground for a couple of fledgling Arnies or Jacks could be found. This was the beginning of a journey into exploration of life, as well as the perfect swing. I might add that the perfect swing remains elusive, as does the perfect understanding of life, but the journey has been excellent!

While the number of stories and lessons learned could fill volumes, I’ll try to condense some of the lessons learned here, hoping that you enjoy hearing them as much as I enjoy learning them.

Lesson 1 – Equipment

I had been attending the Saturday morning golf lessons for a while and

He was amazing. His memories still are.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tom's Pebbles Near Run #34

This was sent to me from Tom's dear friends Trey and Erin.

Hi Theresa,
On Sunday, we hiked up to Albion Basin up Little Cottonwood Canyon. It's funny that in the summer it's this gorgeous alpine basin covered in wildflowers, but in winter it becomes Alta ski resort. It was nice to go up there and remember the times we both spent with Tom on the slopes. We hiked up to Cecret Lake looking for the perfect place to put Tom's ashes, and finally decided on this rocky outcropping in the middle of a meadow, about halfway up the trail. To the west you see the bald peaks that make up Devil's Castle (still snowy, even in mid-July), and to the east you can see the the Supreme chairlift.

Here's a map:

We put Tom somewhere near the end of run #34. We've attached the photo of Tom next to the ashes, and also a shot to show you the big rock he's on top of. We hope he's happy there. We know he always loved being up in the mountains and skiing. He barreled down those slopes with unmatched exuberance.

Much love,
Trey and Erin

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Tom was a heck of a cuddler. Not "cuddler" like in "amazing sex machine" (that will be a different post) but "cuddler" like warm and cozy and inter-twined. Allow me to elaborate. There is the cuddler and the cuddlee. When you are doing it perfect the cuddler's knees fit in the cuddlee's back of knees. The cuddlee's butt fits in the cuddler's pelvic area. The cuddler's arm reaches over and the cuddlee takes the arm and bends it up so the hand is near the mouth for little kisses and breathing on. The cuddler breathes in the cuddlee's neck and hair.

Tom and I rarely went to bed at the same time but somehow in the middle of the night and in the early morning we found each other and cuddled like crazy. Every dawn we agreed it was the best part of our day.

Sometimes Tom would come to bed and read for a while. I would sckootch over and (much like Spenser used to do) manage to get my head under his arm. That made it very hard for Tom to turn the pages but how annoyed can you get when your love button is actively willing to put her face near your arm pit at the end of a long day?

Many nights I would go to bed to read and Tom would stay up to watch tv. When I was done I would stick my head around the corner and ask him to tuck me in. Then for no reason I can imagine I would race to bed and lay stiff as a board on my back pretending to be asleep. Tom would come in and starting with my neck tuck me in along the shoulders, down my sides, to my hips, down my legs and then my feet. And just to make sure he would tuck in again all the way up to my shoulders.

Then quiet as a mouse he would brush the hair from my forehead and give me a kiss on the brow. Then he would kiss my lips, turn out the light, sneak away, and close the door. I would fall asleep smiling.

Now I am telling you this for two reasons. One is my incessant need to recall Tom. The other is because it is so important for all of us to know that we are creating memories. It is not the bouquet of flowers, or expensive dinner that stays in memory. It is the gentle backward hug you give every time your love is doing the dishes or how you call out "Lovebucket I'm home" every evening at 7 p.m. It is the habits of love that make such a huge difference.

I promise you that I am right on this one.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

6 months

Dear Diary,
I just started this job at UT/TV six months ago and I met the coolest guy. He is tall, and really fine looking. He is a videographer and director and even plays guitars. He is always talking to Susan M and it makes me crazy. I try and sneak a peek at him in the production meetings but I am already so nervous I could throw up. I can’t even talk to him. I hope he asks me out!

Dear Diary,
We started dating about six months ago. I am head over heels. His name is Tom Lawrence and this is just amazing. The first time we touched was at this convenience store on the corner of Montrose and Westheimer. Tom was paying for something and my hand was on the counter. I moved it over and the side of our hands touched. It was ELECTRIC!!! (Since then we have touched more :))

Dear Diary,
Tom proposed last night! Actually he proposed on our first date and we waited seven years because of me. But it is happening soon! We are planning on wedding in August!

Dear Diary,
We have now been married for six months. What an amazing life I have. We are both hugely flawed but it is so great being married. We are a strong, united team and I can’t wait for every new day.

Dear Diary,
We are in our house and finally moved in. It took six months to get unpacked but we are done and settling in for a long, wonderful hot summer. We got a BBQ grill from KnowledgeWire friends and plan on using it just about every night!

Dear Diary,
In September we are going to climb Kilimanjaro in Africa. We are going with Siva and Michael. We have been training for months but really ramping up now. It is going to be the most wonderful and hard “vacation” of our lives.

Dear Diary,
Tom has decided to run the Houston Marathon in February 2005. He started running with Galloway and I changed groups to run with him. He has about six months left to train and we will tackle that race like nobody’s business!

Dear Diary,
It has been half a year since Tom’s dad passed away. I am so happy Tom went and was able to see Mr. Lawrence before he passed. Tom misses him so very much but the funeral was very noble. Especially the police parade thanks to Austin.

Dear Diary,
It has been six months since Tom was diagnosed with GBM. Surgery & chemotherapy…He is strong, fighting like crazy and beyond optimistic. Boy do I love him.

Dear Diary,
In six months we will have our 10th anniversary. With hope Tom will be back in the saddle. We always talked about going to Hawaii on our fifth anniversary but did not make it. This time I will make sure it happens.

Dear Diary,
Tom passed away six months ago today. That is roughly 1080 nights and 1080 days. It is several 1000 cries, a few prayers and lots and lots of Tom thoughts. I can’t wait until someday I write: “I have been in Heaven with Tom 30 weeks now and it seems like the blink of an eye.” That will be a terrific diary entry.