To all that have contributed to this amazing thread, I thank you … from the bottom of my heart.
Please know that the memories and photos that you have all taken the time to share have aided not only the healing process of the skydiving community to which Tom belonged … but provided Tom’s family with at least some small degree of solace in what has otherwise been an incredibly difficult time.
I have to admit that I am still struggling with the fact that Tom is gone, and may never be able to fully articulate the pain, and overwhelming sense of loss, that I feel. However, the outpouring of emotion and well wishes that the family has received over the past several days, in particular those from un-expected sources such as this website, has been simply incredible.
There are no words that can change what has happened … no actions that will bring Tom back to us. However, reading through the various posts, and pouring through all of the wonderful pictures, has reminded me that Tom was living the life that he chose … on his terms … and one that, by all accounts, made him happy. We should all be so lucky. It helps, if only in some small way, to know that in pursuing this life Tom was not only introduced to a community of people that shared his passion for skydiving, but truly embraced him, and loved him for who he was:
“The mumbling charmer … sincere … kindhearted … a pure spirit … humble … fun-loving … the first person to offer assistance, and the last person to say a bad thing about anybody … a good person and one from whom we could all learn a thing or two about how we treat others.”
Of all my own personal memories of Tom, many of my fondest happen to revolve around this very time of year.
Our family traditionally gets together on Christmas Eve to celebrate, and exchange gifts. As the youngest, Tom always received the honor (i.e. the short end of the stick) of distributing the gifts … one at a time, with the next gift not being distributed until the prior had been opened for everyone to see. It can be quite a process, but one that Tom orchestrated with great skill and care over the years … he was quite the little “elf”.
As he got older he would occasionally make a half-hearted plea for someone else to take over, but would always fulfill the role in the end … always with that special smile, and a twinkle in his eye that let you know that deep down, he really enjoyed it. Of all my memories of Tom, it is probably those images that I will hold most dear … Christmas Eve, the family gathered, and Tom under the tree distributing gifts … often in his big fluffy slippers (think big oversized animal feet … see attached photo).
It will never be quite the same without him.
Again, I thank you all … for the kind words, the photos and the memories. They have meant the world to me and my family. Of all the things I wished for Tom in this life … more than anything, I wanted him to be happy. I think that we (his family) can all take comfort in knowing that his was a life well lived … and that in the end, he was indeed truly happy.
Blue skies & eternal peace little brother … you are much loved, and will be forever missed by all that were fortunate enough to have known you.
Your Big Brother - David
(Say hi to Mom, and give her a big hug for me)