It is commonly held that it is hard to make friends as an adult. Despite the 36 years that separated us, Tom and I were friends. On February 16, 2017 at around 5 pm he passed away. He was 95.
Tom and I met as neighbours across the street from one another. He extended a kindness to me on the day we moved in that set the tone for over twenty years.
From the outside it might have appeared that our friendship was unlikely. The difference in our ages notwithstanding, Tom was religious, conservative, with a background in science ( he had been a chemist professionally). I was none of those things. Yet we never seemed to be at a loss for something to talk about. Many’s the time that I would wander across the street ( or visa versa) and share a cup of tea and have a long chat.
As Tom started to get older I admit that I would find some pretense to cross the street to “check” on him. I don’t think he was ever fooled, but he always met me with a smile and an invitation for tea. His family has often thanked me for doing what I could in support of their Dad and for being a good friend. It is always made me feel awkward, because it was no effort. It was the quality of the man that inspired friendship and loyalty, plain and simple.
When Tom moved out a few years ago, I took to visiting with him as often as I could. As a matter of fact we often laughed that I could not visit as often as I wanted to because he was so busy. A testament to the man that so many people wanted to share time with him.
I did not attend Tom’s funeral. On that day another friend, facing the return of his own cancer needed my support. I decided that I needed to be with him. I am sure that Tom ( with his characteristic unselfishness) would have approved.
I have thought of Tom every day since his passing. I suspect that will change over time, but I hope not. People like Tom deserve to be remembered.