Saturday, January 30, 2010
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 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.
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
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