Saturday, October 23, 2010

Marathon for Adoption

Today I ran the Marathon for Adoption in New Braunfels, TX. I am fairly well trained but did not actually realize the run was hilly. They call it rolling hills. As a Houston flatlander it seemed like Everest. The first 13.1 were brutal. The last three really tough. The mid 10 were ok. I was alone 75%.

It was so challenging that at mile 8 or 9 I quit looking at my watch. I had no idea of my pace or how far I had gone. All I wanted to do was stay true to my runs and walks. And I did. Remarkably enough I came in within 10 minutes of my goal time. I only broke down crying out loud (yes really out loud) twice. That may be a personal record.

I cry because it is hard and because I chose to do it and then because it is hard. Mostly I cry because Tom had the ever loving gall to leave me. And because he won't be at the aid stations and the finish line. He won't be at my stupid empty house to welcome me home and we won't have our metal ceremony. He won't hear all my war stories.

And here is the part where I usually quit being self-indulgent and feeling sorry for myself, and proud of my accomplishment and say really nice things about Tom watching me from Heaven etc.

But I'm tired. I ran a hard and good race today. And I am sad. We are moving in on 21 months and honest to God it was yesterday. And he is not at my finish line.

Tomorrow I will get out of bed, and stretch and be productive. Tonight I will be a bit sore all over, head to feet to heart.

Nite babe.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Tom - October 10

Happy Birthday Tom.

This is from Karina:

Karina S. Descartin-ManacsaOctober 11, 2010 at 4:20am
Subject: RE 10/10
Happy birthday to Tom!

I met him only once, Theresa. I am glad I did.

We have Tom's bookmark in our fridge. :-)

Btw, in Filipino (in my family at least), when a loved one moves on, they now have 2 birthday celebrations. Most often we continue to celebrate both---with eating with family and/or friends just like they were still with us. The first is the birth birthday. The second birthday is the death anniversary--where there's eating party again. I don't know if it's a Catholic thing or Filipino thing. But bottomline is, we continue to celebrate their days as if they are still here. I guess they always will be. :-)


Friday, October 8, 2010

October 9 Happy Birthday John

Who would have guessed? John Lennon born just one day (and many a year) before Tom.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Man on the Moon

Tonight I watched Man on the Moon which is a movie that makes me so significantly sad I can't believe it. Tom and I watched it way back when and even then I proceeded to view and review REM's video title song over and over. And now I am doing it again. (

And I don't know know why. Used to be when I would do stuff like this Tom would hold me in his arms and remind me it was just a movie, or just a little bird that died, or just the way things go.

Once I literally curled up in a ball when the dog I loved at the dog track tripped and tumbled over and over. It never occurred to me they could get hurt. The dog was not hurt but I still cried until we left. When Patrice got kicked off of some rocker elimination show Tom had to calm to down by reminding I was probably the only non-relative in the country balling about it. I never watched the show again.

And last night I helped save a little dog who has now been passed to much more skilled and loving, generous hands than mine. And I am crying thinking about her alone in a cold and noisy kennel. (Her name is Ronnie Mac).

I never knew until 20 months and five days ago that my life had two parts. It had the part I did all alone during the day or away from the house, and the part when I went home and told Tom. And I sort of thought they were equal. And they were not. The part I did alone was 10% and the part with Tom was 90%. And losing the 90% does not in any way make the 10% fill the void. And we can say nice things like Tom is watching and loves Ronnie Mac but he isn't. He is dead. And I am at 10% and the dog fell at the track and Patrice is not famous and Ronnie may be cold.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Birthday 51

Yesterday was my birthday. It was harder than all the holidays since Tom died. Here is why: My birthday is about me and Tom made it triple about me.

Back in 1982 when I had this nutso boyfriend we started celebrating birthday week. When I met Tom we continued. It goes like this. You get seven days of celebrating leading up to your big day. We used to just do it so that starting on Sunday we had fun everyday to the birthday and that was great if your day landed on a Friday or Saturday but if it hit on a Monday you were screwed. So now it is seven days before, during, and after.

Every day of birthday week you get a present. It could be a silly present (e.g., a stuffed animal, a glow in the dark ring), a practical present (e.g., a battery charger, a hoe), a decadent present (e.g., those ice cream balls covered in chocolate, a hard cover book), or maybe a love present (e.g., a pair of earrings, a soft t-shirt).

On the last September 27 in which Tom made me princess for week, my big gift was a hitch attached to my car to carry my bike rack. He made a big sign and covered it in a big bow. Everyday I look at that hitch with love.

Thanks to amazing family, wonderful friends, and an unexpected cool front the birthday went from massively suck to decidedly nice. But I promise that no one will ever give birthday week like Tom did.

Thanks for the love Tom, and the hitch, and the glow in the dark ring.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Tom "sighting"

Ok before you get your hopes up or think this is going to be some wonderful "Ghost" love reappearance it is not. It is just plain silly but it is true.

I have a lot of trouble sitting still. If I am still -- I am asleep. So that makes watching movies tough. TV I can do from time to time but that is because there are commercials so I can jump up and try and accomplish something during the break.

Tom could sit through an entire movie easily. I would need to "go to the bathroom" or "check a noise" or get a glass of water about every 20 minutes. If it was a good movie Tom would pause and sit and wait. Usually patiently. But sometimes things did not go as planned. I would go the bathroom and realize the towel was not clean so I would get out another one. Then I would think I should do a quick batch of laundry and have to sort through the piles. 15 minutes later Tom would find me cleaning out the closet having forgotten all about the movie.

When Tom died I stopped cable and Netflix and the newspaper. Saving money and all that. Just recently I decided that life was hard enough and if I could not manage $10a month for NetFlix I might as well cash it in anyway. So I got NetFlix and started watching my first movie. For 20 minutes.Then I got up to get a drink and started cleaning the kitchen and decided to make some brownies.

Honest to God in the middle of making brownies I heard Tom say "Hey Babe, I thought we were watching a movie."

It is exactly what he would say. And he said it in that "I'm being patient but would appreciate some consideration" tone of voice. I cracked up. I stopped what I was doing, returned to the show and managed to sit for 30 more minutes before taking another break.

In truth I want Tom to come back and cuddle me at night, or help me make decisions, or lift a piece of furniture, but as it must be -- he visited in a way that gave me a big smile and was very true to our lives.

Thanks Babe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tom "sightings"

At the night of Tom's fundraiser a woman came up to me and shared that her dead husband had appeared to her almost two years after he passed. It was very comforting to her. A counselor once told me her grandmother had visited an sat down on the edge of her bed.

My brother Michael had an extended conversation with Tom shortly after he died. And now I received this wonderful story from Jeannie about a Tom sighting her husband Gary experienced.

Dear Theresa,

I hope this note finds you doing well. I wanted to share a little something with you. Gary and I just got back from a vacation to Maui. I have a dear friend who lives there so I went a few days before Gary to have some "girl time." Anyway, Gary had to change planes in Los Angeles and he had a Tom sighting. He said he was waiting for his plane when this guy walked past him and he looked up and was about to say "hey Tom" when he was brought back to reality and knew it couldn't be his friend Tom.

He said it really brought him some special thoughts and memories to see this man that looked just like his friend Tom. We are very intune with this sort of thing since we had our own many moments of Philip sightings after he left this earth.

While Tom may not be here in an earthly form, he remains in our hearts and minds forever. I continue to read your blog and enjoy your thoughts and memories... thank you for continuing to share.

Take care,
Jeanne Hazen

Thank you Jeanne for sharing this story. I look for Tom everywhere. I am so glad he is alive in your memory.

Please send me your Tom sightings & experiences, I would love to hear about them.
Love Theresa

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tom = Music

My auditory memory is pretty good. I can recall the baseboard I was sanding when I heard that one part of the This American Life episode about the kids that made up the family they were babysitting for all summer when the mom almost busts them. I can recall when I first heard the Indigo Girls sing about four years prostrate to the higher mind, got my paper. And I was free.

And I can recall a million conversations with Tom about music. Ok actually I can remember Tom talking. I listened. Especially when he was with Donna and Hugh or Jeffery. They would talk for hours about bands and artists and songs. Tom just shined.

Tom was music to so many people. A comment was posted to this blog by Trey, a man dearly loved. He wrote about Tom drumming on the dashboard of his car. And Tommy sent a link to a new song with lots of Gibson SG time. He wrote it was 4 minutes well-spent. (Yet another example of fine rock and roll played on the mighty Gibson SG...

And I recall Tom sitting in the family room pickin' and strummin' while I fell asleep. Life is so much richer for the music, both literal and figurative, that Tom created.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tom's new car

Tom and I had an interesting relationship with each other as it pertained to money. Tom set the rules, I fought forever and gave up. Then it worked out fine.

Basically we each handled our own money. We split the bills, saved, invested, and if someone had some extra or was short the other person covered it.

Tom was slow on most things but not on saving and not on buying. Take his car for example. One day he went out and bought a car. He deserved it. His old one was falling apart and he had been driving it for decades. But it cracked me up when he got up one day and said he was going to look at cars and came home with one. I always thought married people did all that together. Now granted, I did not care what he bought, where he bought, or how much it cost. Tom was reasonable. But to this day it cracks me up.

Months later I was without a car. I needed to go buy one. I told Tom we needed to go get me a car. He kindly said to call him if I got in a bind. Then I went and bought my own car.

And to think we did not get married for 7 years because I needed to retain my independence.

Now I still drive his car and look fondly at this six year old picture the dealer gave him with a funny memory. And I know I can go out and buy my own car.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tom of no fear

My mom was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and with that event, as is totally expected, came her fear and the concern of the family. She checked into the hospital, had a great operation, healed fast, and is home.

But it brought back a lot of my memories. One of them was a reflection on Tom's attitude. In his 20 months after diagnosis, and five tough months at the end, and the final 30 days or so in the hospital Tom rarely complained. When he did it was about making a mistake like forgetting to put on socks, me pushing him to get out and exercise, or plain old not wanting to go to work. He did not complain about being sick. He never asked "Why me?"

But even more so was that he was never afraid. That is not an exaggeration. He was not afraid of the operations, the chemo, the radiation, the changes in his body, or dying. He did not think he would die of brain cancer, but if he was going to, he felt it would all work out in the end. I still don't know what that means.

I tried to divert my fear into manic energy and pretty well succeeded. Tom did not divert. He faced his illness with optimism and honesty and the more time that passes the more I see how unusual and admirable that was.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Watch the rabbit

As you know Tom really loved golfing. He never seemed to golf a lot but he always wanted to and when he did go he had so much fun.

I only went with him a few times (just to find the balls others had lost) but those were always great days. Once we went in Fountain Hills where Nicole lives. The prices there are based on a high socio-economic class population. We, of a more modest budget, could only play in the middle of the day in August when the prices are more reasonable.

We had the place to ourselves, except for a rabbit. Tom was golfing and I was in the gullies looking balls long lost balls, and we saw a rabbit sitting in the shadow of a saguaro cactus.

(I could not find a picture of a cactus with a rabbit but here is a cactus)

The shadow was just wide enough to give the rabbit shade. The rabbit was asleep. Tom continued golfing and as it turned out a few holes later we were near the same cactus. The sun had shifted, moving the shadow with it.

As we watched, the rabbit woke up, looked around, and saw the shadow had moved. She raised her tail, took a little hop to get back aligned in the shadow, and went back to sleep.

For years now I have tried to figure out the lesson to be learned from watching that rabbit. I figured it was about patience, or desire, or universal acceptance or something. Now I think it is about watching the rabbit. That's it. The lesson is to watch the rabbit. In 100 degree heat with the person you love beside you watch the rabbit. It will give you a lump in your throat years later and you will be happy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Long Way Round

Ross and I met many, many years ago and we have an interesting friendship. We have gone months, and maybe even years without seeing each other. We rarely go out and never do activities together. But I consider him a kind of soul mate in a calm understated sort of way.

Shortly after Tom died I got a package from Ross. He sent me the DVD set of "Long Way Round". He said he thought I would like it. It has 10 episodes of these two guys going around the world on motorcycles. It was an excellent collection and I was working my way through it. After about a year I was at about episode 8 of 10.

Then I started working where Ross works. One day he asked me if I had finished the set. I told him no, and felt real bad about it. I could not explain why I was not done because I really liked the show. Last weekend I committed to watching the last few episodes. As expected I loved them, but about half way through the final show I paused and decided to finish the next day.

As I turned off the TV I thought about this strange behavior. The DVD was captivating. It was not late, I was not tired. Why in the world would I not watch the end?

Laying in bed I decided it was because I did not want it to end. Not so much the program but how I got the program. What I did not want to end was the period of time where people contacted me because Tom was gone. It wasn't the pity or the attention. It really was not about me. It was the constant acknowledgement that our world had experienced a really significant loss.

I got out of bed and finished the show. It was worth it.
The ending messsage was how it had been a wild, life changing ride. I agreed.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rain Days

Rain Days are rather hard.

Whenever we had rain days (1992 - until 17 months ago or so) Tom and I would talk about playing hookey and laying in bed all day. I was always the get and up and go person but in this case I fully supported the idea. We had movies, ourselves, and a phone to get food and I wanted nothing more than "cuddles," naps, movies, repeat. I would not mind throwing in a happy hour at a dark, dive and maybe an hour or so at Half Price Books adding to the stacks in the house.

Tom on the other hand had a weird work ethic in this regard. He would no more call in "unavailable today" than he could fly. Now don't get me wrong, if either of us was under a deadline or something big was going on then of course I did not advocate staying home. But a few times a year I could certainly support.

But we never did it.

So then I wonder why are Rain Days unsettling. It's not like I miss playing hookey or recalling our illegal days together. I am missing something I never got. How odd is that?

Anyway, just think about taking a Rain Day. Call in unavailable (something came up at home and I can't come in). Drop the kids in day care for half a day, turn off the phone and computers, dim the lights and just hang out with the person you love. Play a game. Have some wine in the middle of the day. Look outside and be so glad you are dry and cozy. I promise the work you missed will be forgotten and the day will stay in your memory for so long. Hey look how long I remembered it and I never even did it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tom's Stone at Memorial Park

Tom's Stone has been placed at Memorial Park. Please visit it on your runs.

Love Theresa

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 22, 2007

Three years ago today I was at CCG working very closely with Rick and Craig. We were spending hours each day in meetings. It was a stressful time and I was pretty caught up in the office day-to-day crisis(es).

A few days earlier Tom had been complaining about having some headaches but mostly just being unable to focus. He said emails that should have taken a few minutes to write were taking 15 to 20 minutes. He could not find the letters on the key pad and when he did he forgot what he was trying to write.

Being a born and bred "lift yourself by the bootstraps" kind of person I determined that Tom was succumbing to the pressures at his work in a completely dramatic and inefficient way. If he would just face the problems head on and power through, things would be all right. (I have since completely rejected this philosophy).

Since he was unwilling to accept my advice I told him he might as well just go to see his doctor and get a second opinion. He did.

He called early afternoon to tell me Dr. Reubin had fit him in, examined him and immediately sent him to a neurologist who had performed a CAT scan and determined he had a golf ball-sized tumor on his brain. Back then we did not know what that meant. Ok, we knew it was it was not good but was it bad like "my arm hurts I better get the bone set" or was it bad like "there is no hope for my arm it needs to be amputated"?

In no way did we know that it meant cancer, chemo, radiation, Avastin injections and death in 570 days. We did not know it meant 18 months and a few days to learn, and fight, and love more than we ever had before.

Tom told me he was getting scheduled with a surgeon next week and going home to pick up some drugs. I went back to my meeting. A while later, through emails Craig found out Tom had a brain growth, kicked me out of the meeting, and sent me home. Then I figured out this might be serious.

We spent the weekend getting a will, power of attorney, medical power of attorney and living will. I got on all Tom's banks and investment accounts and verified his life insurance. Tom started his video diary.

I think about going back in the conference room so calmly, and conversations with doctors who would not say it was cancer, and research, and ICUs and all the times we just sat on the couch all cuddled up and I am so grateful for the 570 days we had.

And I would give my arm to do it all over again.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Home Remodeling Blues

Tom was born to be a rock n roll player. He was in a band in high school and if I had a dime for every time he said "if I had a dime for every time we played that song we'd be rich", well I'd be rich.

Later in life he and a friend named Darren (I think) even wrote some songs. They were not half bad. By the time Tom and I got together he limited his playing to picking the acoustic and learning Christmas songs. Except once.

Michael, my brother had his first radio show and somehow the topic of a song about remodeling came up. My other brother Tommy wrote the lyrics, and Tom played, sang, and produced the song. The Home Remodeling Blues was born and even got played on the radio once or twice.

As you know, Tom was by no means an extrovert and had a very dry sense of humor. When you hear this though you will imagine an entirely different man. Sitting on the stool in a smokey bar just jammin'. And smilin'

Click here to listen.

(or cut and paste this link into a new browser window )


Monday, June 14, 2010

Big Tom's Trail

Dear Friends and Family,

About 10 months I approached the McDowell Mountain Parks with developing an idea to "Adopt a Trail" similar to roads that are adopted by folks. The park had never done this before, but were very open to the idea. The agreement was written up. I agreed to maintain the trail quarterly by picking up trash, and report any erosion which they would repair. They agreed to pick up the cost of the sign, and erect it.

What you see is the result. A mile of trail on the Sonroan Trail off of the Dixie Mine trail is now officially Big Tom's trail.

I share this with you for two reasons:
1. to share Tom's love.
2. to encourage you to adopt trails in your area. It is free, and a great way to honor someone, or just to help out the parks. If you live near the McDowells, I have a terrific point of contact who was critical in the success of keeping the wheels of government turning. Just let me know, and I'll put you in touch.

Love, Nicole

p.s. From Theresa: This is just the best thing. Tom is honored with care of a trail and I am so proud that his name is out there day and night. Thank you so very much Nic. I love you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Planning, shopping, and eating

Food. I'm not so good with food. Of course I don't like to be without it, and I can cook just fine. And actually I don't mind cooking. But what I don't like, or can't seem to get around to is planning and shopping. The idea of thinking about meals in the future, writing down a list, buying the ingredients and then cooking it all is huge.

I can plan just about anyone under a table with big huge projects involving contractors and large budgets and timelines but can't seem to get around this food thing.

This is not new. It is a characteristic (flaw if you must) that I have had since I left to go to college. Tom was not like that. He was fine planning and shopping and implementing but there was a catch. He wanted me to participate. I did not want to participate.

I did not want to decide on meals, I REALLY hated going to the grocery store. Then getting home in time to cook, EVEN with the love of my life, was not how I wanted to spend my time.

This was an area of conflict. I did not complain when we went to the store. I would not go to the store. Or if I did I would only buy five things (there is this deal I have with the number five I can go into another time).

If one person will not go to the store and her lack of participation is a deal breaker well then no one is cooking.

This all came back to me last night, when just for the fun of it I looked in my pantry: 1 box of stale Cheerios and some granola. Oatmeal & pasta. Broken crackers, a can of beans, and cornbread mix. And trail mix. Oh and pasta sauce.

Well a conservative might just be wondering what I fed my husband, and a liberal may be wondering how I could waste so much money eating out. Somehow though Tom was fed and we did not eat out all that often. I can't really remember what we ate but five nights a week, around 5 or 6 pm Tom would call and say, "Hey babe what are we doing for dinner?" A conversation would ensue an somehow between Tom and I, take out or cereal, smoothies or soup, we would eat.

Not much has changed in my cooking/eating patterns. The funny thing is, almost everyday, just for a millisecond, around 6 or 7 pm, as fast as the blink of an eye, my brain asks, "Why hasn't Tom called about dinner already?"

My shoulders slump, I take a deep breath, and then I decide on my own, take out, cereal, smoothie, or soup? It is not nearly as much fun alone.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Be back in your lover's arms immediately

I have to be honest. On many occasions I have missed Tom to the point of wanting to make poor choices about the continuation of my heart beat. Unfortunately, the repressed Catholicism in me has strenuously objected assuring me that if I decide when to see Tom again I certainly will not see him again ever.

As this delves into a level of spirituality, myth, and psychoanalysis I am not equipped to deal with at this time I have taken no action. However, the universe has interceded!

On a recent visit to Home Depot this was left on my car.

For only $10 all my problems will be solved. I will be reunited with my lover permanently. I'll let you know how it works out.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The wisdom of Marge Simpson

Marriage is a beautiful thing. But it's also a battle for moral supremacy.

- Marge Simpson

When I first read this quote it seemed to be to be dead on. Moral supremacy could be defined as having the highest principles or rules of right conduct or the most authoritative distinction between right and wrong; ethical. When a husband a wife are pitted against each other for this distinction a very strong irony surfaces.

But in spite of that I wondered if somewhere in the history of our relationship were Tom and I in this compeition? Like most people we want to be right. Well actually ...

I want to be right.
Tom wants to right.
Unless we were being insulted as a couple (and I don't think that ever happened) "we" never had a need to be right. Like most people Tom wants to be right and I want to be right.

A few months ago I read the phrase "When you are right you are only right." I love that sentence. While there are some things that really count and it is important to have an opinion and make sure the other person accepts that opinion (Car is stuck on a train track and a train is coming. It is pretty imperative your passenger accepts your opinion that getting out the car fast is critical). But most of the time, being right really does not matter.

Who cares if they like your idea to use a pulley? Who cares if the wood you left for the trash is under the allowable length and they still did not take it? Who really cares if you asked for three pumps and they gave you four?

It is a lot easier and less painful to let the conversation or event go. The earth will not stop moving.

Now I am not advocating always rolling over, or giving up, or letting someone get away with lying or cheating or always being lazy. But rarely in conversations where one is hell-bent to be "right" does the other person suddenly cheerfully smile and suddenly remember it is all their fault.

Usually nothing good comes from being right in the small stuff.

It was my nature to be right. To win, to get the wrong person to admit defeat, guilt, and be remorseful. Which is fair (of course) because I was right.

Tom taught me through his actions, in retrospect, that a lot of times it was ok to walk away from the disagreement. Not always. But sometimes. Tom made sure we never fell into a competition of moral supremacy. We both just tried to do the right thing and respect each other in the process.

Tonight I will go home with no one to call my bluff, to aggressively counter my opinions, or to happily agree that I am right. I guess some things never change.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tom helping Theresa

Tom and I had this weird relationship as it related to helping each other with really big stuff. By big stuff I mean running a marathon or a 50 miler ... or climbing a 19,000 foot mountain.

Generally speaking, I welcome help. I need it alot. I have run almost 40 races marathons or longer and I'll bet in 35 of them I needed help or encouragement in a serious way. Usually it was from Tom. I would be running and running and decide it was just too hard. I would promise myself I could quit next time I saw Tom sagging for me. And I would see him and I would try and quit and he would somehow talk me into running a bit longer. And then I would finish.

On the other hand if Tom was having a bad run or a bad training session and I tired to encourage him things went to shit in a hurry. Some of our best running "discussions" ended with him firmly but politely telling me to leave him alone and run ahead. I never figured out how to inspire him when he was down.

One the best times he ever kept me going was climbing Kilimanjaro. In truth, I trained harder, I was more fit, and I climbed that mountain strong and fast and happy. Tom's experience was slower, more painful and not as joyful. The same held true on summit day (we started climbing at 11 pm). Tom was tired and slow and I could not inspire him. He slogged along.

When the sun comes up you are supposed to be at the summit. We were not. We were a SERIOUS scree hill and a one mile path from the top. We sat down to watch the sun come up and when I sat I dropped my pole and it rolled a little ways away. At that point I can distinctly remember deciding I had climbed far enough and it was a bummer that the pole was so far away that I would not even try to retrieve it. I was smiling in the picture because I was planning on heading down. I was done. After miles and miles of happy trekking, I quit.

As you can expect, Tom struggled to his feet, picked up my pole, and managed to talk me into continuing. We summitted together.

When we started down Tom was moving slowwwww. Full of love and respect I encouraged him. With love and respect he told me to go ahead. I had no intention of leaving him (even with his guide). He stated firmly that me staying was not optional. We kissed goodbye and I saw him hours later in our tent.

I remain so grateful for the many races he helped me complete.
And I am even more grateful that he finally let me help him. I got to encourage him finish his final miles.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Sometimes I feel like I am the sound of one hand clapping.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

French Fries

Tonight I was driving home after a long day. I was hungry and tired and as usual had no food at home. It was also a day of much, very much, thinking about Tom.

All elements, tired, sad, hungry, no food plan meant only one option: MacDonald's. And even worse, it meant Big Mac and medium fries. As I was driving home food in hand I realized that NEVER until I met Tom did I eat fries in my house. We ate plenty at home during my decades with Tom, but since he died I have reverted to never eating fries at home again.

"Revert"? Interesting word choice. That is because the reason I don't eat fries at home is because I inhale them about 12 seconds after I get them from the drive through. No idea why I ask for ketchup because the only thing left of the fries when I get home is the grease on my fingers. And to be clear: even the fries that fell out in the bottom of the bag were gone. Tonight as I drove home, all fries gone before I turned in my neighborhood I remembered how Tom had such a strong feeling that it was improper to eat fries on the way home.

Sometimes I got lucky and could sneak a few fries if he ran in to get a lottery ticket but otherwise I was hosed until we got home, sat down, poured some water, and unpacked.

Today, months and months later, I have firmly decided that fat tastes good, and hotter fat tastes better than cooler fat. If you can drive safely and eat your fries, nod to Heaven and tell Tom I said it was ok. My guess is he won't argue with you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tom's Gibson SG - Here Comes the Sun

One of Tom's special guitars was a Gibson SG, created in the early 70s. It is now a "vintage" guitar.

At Tom's memorial at my house, Hayden, my nephew-in-law was allowed to play it. Hayden fell in love. He and his family came back to my home again over Christmas and again all we saw was Hayden's head bent over playing. After lots of thought and a few conversations, I gave Hayden Tom's precious guitar. We made an informal deal that we would get together in the Spring and he would play me a Beatles's song in honor of Tom.

Last weekend Hayden and his family came to my Mom's Easter brunch. Hayden still loved the guitar and told me more about the history of guitar and his experience with it than I could have hoped for. And then he played for us.

This young man is self-taught and has so much potential. As I listened all I saw was Tom and knew that it was not my idea to give Hayden the guitar.
It was Tom's.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Tom at St. Andrews

For those of you that don't know, golfers hold some courses in very high esteem. Pebble Beach for example is a course every golfer wants to play. St. Andrews is another one.

The official name is St Andrews Links, and they claim to be the Home of Golf, 'where the game has been nurtured and developed for 600 years.' The website has photos of the course and club ( and the day we were there it looked just like this. It was cold and windy and there was even an air show going on above us.

Tom and Gary played and I ate oranges and looked for bandit golf balls. After a great game we shopped (St. Andrews balls, St. Andrews sweater, St. Andrews club cover....)and then settled into a warm pub for Shepherds Pie and Guinness's.

It was one of those days that made Tom very, very happy,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jennifer's 100 miler

When Tom started running with the Galloway group his first coach was Bruce. Bruce and Tom got along great and Tom also loved Bruce's wife Jennifer. Pretty soon all of us were good friends, running together and having big breakfasts afterwards.

It was actually at Tom's 50th birthday party that Jennifer committed to running her first 50 miler with me at American River! Jennifer went on to become one of the fastest, strongest trail runners I have ever personally known. She got so strong in fact, she decided to do her first 100 miler in February of 2009.

Unfortunately, Tom passed away and his memorial was the same day as Jen's run. We all talked a lot about how Tom would rather have Jen running than attending a memorial service, so she headed up to perform an amazing physical feat. Bruce came to the service and then headed back up to Huntsville to support Jen. She had a terrific run and dedicated it to Tom.

Bruce and Jen and I have lost touch but on many a run I thought about Jen's 100 and Tom's service and what a weird coincidence it was that they happened at the same time. Then one night at the rodeo I met Allen who helped pace Jennifer in for the final long miles of her 100 miler. He told me that he and Jennifer were sure Tom was there. For a long time every five miles Jennifer would tilt her head to Heaven and ask Tom to help her complete the race. And she would keep going. Closer to the end she asked Tom for help every five minutes. And she finished strong.

100 miles can take 24 hours or more to finish, and although I don't know how long it took Jennifer, I know that even fast, strong runners have a lot of pain and doubt over the long night hours they are out there running. I am certain, however, that Jennifer was never alone; Tom was with her every minute. And especially during those long last hours.

And I know that because given a choice Tom would rather be out running with Jennifer than at a memorial service.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rodeo Time

Tom and I loved going to the rodeo. We went almost every year seeing a band, looking at livestock, riding the Ferris wheel, shopping, and eating. Each of those components had a special flavor.
Tom picked the show and in spite of bad acoustics and remote seats we always seemed to see some blast from the past which led us to share music stories for ever. We walked around all the livestock not having a clue what we were looking at but amazed that people were so passionate about something so foreign to us. Then we went on the Ferris wheel. I'm not good at heights and really don't like rides, but every year, in spite of sheer terror I went on the ride. I crushed Tom's hand, started shaking, and waited for him to calm me down so I could look at the beautiful view. It was my act of bravery for the quarter.

We shopped. Up and down the aisles looking at everything and wondering. Sometimes we bought but usually we just ogled. We also stared at the women. As the night went on and the party people replaced the moms with strollers the outfits came out. Women that 30 pounds ago had no business wearing their current outfits strutted in tiny denim miniskirts and high heels. In addition they did not seem to get the notion that "just cause you bought 'em, does not mean you have to bare 'em."

And we ate. Corn dogs and turkey legs, french fries, and waffle cones. Cotton candy and ice cream. The night was a financial and caloric extravaganza.

I've been back twice since Tom left and both times were fun. And I'll go again. But it is just not as fun without 6'5" of love, holding your hand and squeezing when something funny walks by.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"The Shirt" - Niki Barrett

Memory of Big Tom

One one of Theresa’s recent blogs asked for people to share their memories of Big Tom. My biggest problem was narrowing it I I pick the camping trip on 4th of July? The secret trip we took to buy Theresa a vase? The endless times we hugged where his role was to give the world’s best hug, and mine was to ask him for just one more squeeze? The trip to Sharper Image where he sat on a rocking horse designed to slim abs? In the end, I chose “the shirt”.

One weekend, Austin and I went to Houston to hang with Theresa and Tom. Sunday morning took us to breakfast at a cool, crowded place whose inefficiency in seating was completely outmatched by their phenomenal food. From there we walked down a cool street and went antiquing. Anyone who knows Tom knows how he loves to shop..and shop…and shop…this would make T crazy because he rarely bought. As an outsider, I found it hilarious.

This day was different. No one was in a hurry, and no one was impatient, and everyone was just cruising. Austin was searching for his endless “perfect beer glass”, and the rest of us were just hanging. Tom ended up in some funky vintage store and in the very back, found a purple classic western shirt. It was quite purple, and he loved it. They also had it in classic black. It was very expensive, and he just loved it. He tried it on for us in both colors, asking our opinion, but secretly hoping we would all pick purple, and insist he buy it. We did our part, and he did his.

Tom never got to wear the shirt. He got sick, and things happened. But for one day, Tom was so happy, and we were happy with him, and he was living with every part of his being. What a good example.

Love, Niki

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A paver for Tom

Dear friends,
For quite a while I have thinking of a way to commemorate Tom with something physical and long-lasting. Recently I was at Memorial Park and saw their renovation of the Tennis Center. In the main walkway they are laying 12" x 12" inscribed concrete pavers with inscriptions which they are selling for $1,000 each. Given that so much of the donation goes to support Memorial Park, a place Tom spent many an hour an hour on hot and cold runs, I think this is a great commemoration.

Tentatively I will inscribe (limited to 3 lines 20 charaters each):

Tom James Lawrence
All you need is love
1956 - 2009

I'll let you know when it is laid in place.

Love Theresa

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tom and Julia

Tom was really good with kids. He loved them and they loved him right back. He had great relationships with our niece Alex and nephew Noah, but outside the family he had a very special love for Julia Klein.

Jennifer (Julia's mom) and I met back in graduate school. Seems like (and probably was) two decades ago. Jennifer met her husband Mike shortly before Tom and I met so we did lots of growing up together.

Tom and I were blessed to be invited to the hospital right after Jennifer gave birth. Tom was the first "non-hospital person, non-Klein" to hold Julia and I don't think he ever wanted to give her up. He was so happy with her. We would go to the Klein's and he could barely take his attention back to the adults. Tom also loved Sasha, (Jennifer and Mike's son) but somehow that first-minutes-of life-bond remained so strong.

The weekend after we found out about Tom's tumor we took action to get our paperwork in order. We needed to get various powers of attorney in order and wills witnessed, etc. We went immediately to the Klein's. Mike cracked jokes, Jen gave us cookies, Sasha played with trucks, I tried to act normal, and Tom sat at the kitchen table with his arm around Julia. When we left Mike took our picture with the kids. That picture was on the cover of the medical binder we used for years.

A long time after Tom's service I found a note Tom had written about his two favorite pictures. One was the picture Mike took that day back in June 2007.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tom's truck

As long as I knew Tom he was an SUV kinda guy. When we met he was driving a black SUV that was already old and he still had to keep it and pay on it. He got screwed on a lease and ended up with too many miles so he had to do a buy out.

It was finally paid for and Tom still drove the heck out of it. One day a young man knocked on our door. He wanted to buy Tom's truck for $500. Tom was very honest about the vehicle's challenges but the man wanted it anyway. Tom researched it on the web, found the price was fair if somewhat generous and sent it to its new home.

Then he went shopping. He came home with a Chevy Trail Blazer. Above is the picture they took when he signed the papers back in May 2004. The Chevy was a fine car and although the gas mileage was low it hauled all his gear and all my projects and our dog and boxes of stuff all the time. I rarely drove it being content in my convertible.

When Tom could no longer safely drive, maybe in October of 2008, I started driving his car because it was much easier for him to climb in and out. When Tom died I alternated driving it every other week. I thought about getting rid of it but my car is just not so good with a dog or a 2x4. I thought about getting rid of my car but Tom's car is not so good with the top coming off. And since they are both paid for and low maintenance I'll just keep them until some financially driven event causes me to change my mind.

However here is the cool thing. After driving Tom's truck for well over a year I noticed some buttons above the windshield. After pressing them all a few times Tom's voice came out! I was really hoping it was like OnStar from Heaven but it turns out it was a memo recording system that Tom used once for testing. He spoke part of the Gettysburg address.

After being in that car alone for so many miles and still apologizing when I spilled my coffee, stressing over the dog hair, and knowing I should wash it more than quarterly it was a blast to have Tom's voice in there with me. Here is how it sounds...

Click here to listen.

(or cut and paste this link into a new browser window )

No idea why hearing Tom's voice from back in 2004 when he had his new car feels so good but I have listened to it 100 times.

Monday, February 8, 2010

2.8.10 Call for posting

For a really long time now I have been posting about Tom. Most every post is me trying to tell even more about this extremely wonderful man. I'd love to expand the view point.

Will you please contribute? One line, or three paragraphs or multiple pages. Photos or no photos. Even a video or audio clip would be great. Clearly, the posts I have written are not monumental or the stuff of literary legend. Don't make it hard. Just type and feel.

Email your words, etc. to me and I will so happily post them. I'd love to hear stories of how you met Tom or what happened in your lives together. Thanks for thinking about it.

Love Theresa

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

One year anniversary 2.2.2010

Tom died today one year ago.

When I post, as is quite obvious I'm afraid, I usually just write. I get an idea. Think about it a while and then type. Spell check, a little editing and I'm done. But today I don't know what to write. I could go down the expected and true paths of what an amazing man Tom was and talk about the difference he made in so many lives. I could write about how much I miss him or how blessed I am to have such a terrific support system that will not let me slip between the cracks no matter how much I try.

But that does not express it. The remembrances and the cards and the calls and the prayers are all more important than I can express but there is something inside I want to say and I don't know what it is.

It is probably because I am still at that stage of completely not understanding why this had to happen to Tom, to me, and to all of us. And why if I am PMI certified and a Christian and know good attorneys this could not have been avoided. And you can laugh but I swear I think these thoughts. I wonder why Santa Margarita can be so good and yet Tom is not alive. And why I know there are cold people on the street tonight and I can't let go of his jackets.

So I ramble on and have no deep insights for this one year anniversary. But Tom if you are reading this (and hopefully editing it for me) know that you are as loved as much as ever and missed even more. Please stop by if you can. Love Theresa

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Skiing esp Breckenridge

Tom and I loved skiing. We travelled all over each year going to one or two places. We went to Jackson Hole and Sunshine, Telluride, Taos, and all over Utah. Our last trip was to Breckenridge.

This was a different trip than we ever took before. It was staying in a large house with one friend and a lot of people we had not met. The town was lovely but it was very very cold and the slopes were crowded. I'm very jealous of my skiing and a few days into it became very frustrated at the lift lines and busy runs. I got quite pouty one day and really regret it now. Nothing like a mini-scene in a busy bar to put a damper on the day.

One day we planned on taking off and having a special day. I booked a snowmobile ride and a sleigh ride to a cabin and dinner in the woods. We got stuck in the snow and missed the snowmobile ride but got to the remote location in time for the sleigh ride and dinner. It was a wonderful ride and a fun dinner in a big cabin filled with apple pies and hot cider (and a bit of Jack in our cups). We sat behind giant horses, took silly pictures, and ate until we were stuffed. I was so happy sitting there next to Tom all bundled up in our parkas sniffing and laughing and cuddling up. It never occurred to me it would be our last ski adventure.

On the way home, deep in the dark, on an icy road way outside of nowhere, we looked up to see two little girls standing by the side of the road crying. It turns out their dad was driving a pick-up truck home from the same trip we had been on and lost control of the truck. He ran off the road and went over the edge. His truck flipped over into the river. He got the girls out and was still down there trying to do something that I can't recall. Tom stayed in our car and soothed the girls and tried to warm them up. I started climbing down to get the dad who met me half way up.

We drove back to the event location (closer than the town) and managed to warm up the girls emotionally and physically. We listened to the dad who just kept saying how is wife was going to kill him. Quietly we talked about what could have happened if we did not come by. There was no cell phone service out there and very little traffic.

But through it all Tom stayed calm. He drove slow and cautious and for someone that had rarely been on ice before he got the girls back safely and us home happily. It ended up being a magical night. I can still see the girls standing there freezing in the headlights, and Tom focused and quiet behind the wheel. And by the end of it we were cozy in a nice warm bed together

Even on our last ski trip Tom made a big difference in the lives of strangers and in the life of me. We were a very good team.

(picture: Right before heading out to drive home. We thought the deer was so giant he had to pose with us.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tom's dad

Tom had a very special relationship with his dad. He loved him very much and I think that they shared a special bond through the very calm, measured way they lived.

Tom's dad loved to golf and some of Tom's best childhood memories were on the links with Mr. Jim Lawrence.

Mr. Lawrence got ill very unexpectedly. He passed quickly. At that time Austin was living in Arlington and a member for the motorcycle branch of the Arlington Police Department. He arranged to have a special motorcycle convoy accompany Mr. Lawrence from the funeral home to the cemetery and then to lead Mrs. Lawrence home. The team did an amazing job and the tall, strong, professional officers were something Tom and I never forgot.

Most every time Tom and I went to Arlington we would visit his father's grave. Tom was quiet and respectful and calm and just poured love to his father. As such when given an opportunity for a quick turnaround trip to Arlington over the holidays I jumped on it. Nicole and Austin and I drove up and back in one day with the highlight of the day visiting Mr. Lawrence's grave.

There is so much I don't know about the future but I'm guessing my visits to Arlington are limited. It was therefore a blessing to visit the cemetery, and leave some of Tom with all of Mr James Lawrence.

Christmas CDs

Every year Tom would buy a new Christmas CD. We have CDs ranging from A Cowboy Christmas (rather funny) to Mannheim Steamroller (traditional) to John Prine (quite black actually).

Every few years Tom would just come home with his new CD but usually it was a process. Depending on the years and current shopping availability we would check out Starbucks, Target, Best Buy, and when possible end up at Cactus. Cactus, like guitar stores, and big technology boxes is not my shopping venue of choice. Actually I have no shopping venues of choice but when I was with Tom I could not just run in, look around and leave. Instead I would have a book, find a corner, and read. After Tom picked out his selection, and a generous pile of other CDs for good measure, we would pay and leave. And another CD was in the collection.

In 2008 Tom brought up several times that we needed to get the Christmas CD. But it did not happen. It did not happen because Tom was very sick. We could not go to stores and shop. Tom could not leave the house or was in the hospital. But he still really wanted that CD. I acknowledged the request, but then changed the subject as I had a few other things on my mind. And I so regret it. I should have gone to Cactus and brought 25 choices and let Tom pick and returned all the rest.

Sometimes I think about all the things I could have done different to save Tom. Like maybe there was just one thing done quicker or slower or not done or added in that could have saved him. And when that very odd and irrational part of my brain kicks in I wonder if it was buying that Christmas CD.

So this year I went and bought a Christmas CD. There were several choices and I really wanted Bessy Smith. Tom of course would have wanted the new Bob Dylan. We compromised with Melissa Etheridge. And I think Tom was happy about it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our first date - MLK day 1991

Tom and I had our first date on MLK day, 1991. We both worked for UT/TV and that was a day the office was closed. It was a secret date, as was our entire relationship since dating between producers and directors was prohibited, if not explicitly then certainly implicitly.

Tom invited me to his apartment on FM 1960 near HWY 290. He cooked me chicken and we drank wine out of his grandmother's crystal glasses. Then, in what I later learned was one of Tom's favorite activities, we watched a video of a Paul McCartney concert. I should have had an inkling what I was in for: unopened boxes years after he moved in, piles of magazines, a strong propensity for concert shows and of course, an ongoing relationship with the Beatles. I knew, however, in full what I was falling for: love, cuddling on the couch, relaxing, a Zen approach to food and wine and guitars and music and sunsets and quiet.

That night, in some form of conversation, Tom warned me that, "If I was not careful, he would have me married, in the suburbs, in a house with a white picket fence." As it happened that was a long time in coming, but mostly because of me.

I never dreamed of the ride Tom and I would have, ending physically 18 years, 15 days and a lot of concert videos later. 6585 days of blessings and here it is MLK day again.

Pictures: In San Antonio 1992, at the Texas State Fair 1992