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