Born in April of 1946, Tom ended an intense 10-week medical struggle in the company of his extended family. He was a beloved son to his mom, Norma, and his partner of 24 years, Bruce.
I don't recall the first time I met him, but since he and my mother grew up across the street from one another, I always felt he was part of the family. Tom claimed that he was there at my conception, giving my bio-dad pointers, cheering him on, if you will, hoping for the best. Or as he put it, "..comforting your mother after the carnal sprint". Which is funny because if you ever saw my bio-dad run, it wasn't pretty. It's usually a vision of well-coifed hair, arms flailing and chicken-legs stomping up a storm. And oddly enough my mother, many years later, and after a few drinks confirmed that "her time" with my bio-dad was EXACTLY like that.
But back to Tom.
One of my earliest conversation with Tom went something like this:
Tom: Umm...I think you should be aware, or know, that I'm gay.
Tom: You understand what that means, right?
Sean: I do.
Sean: You...know that I'm not, right.
Tom: I do.
Tom: Alright. Would you like some cake?
I bring up this conversation because with Tom everything was out in the open. Nothing was taboo, and of course nothing was off-limits. There wasn't a topic he didn't have an opinion about. And if he wasn't fully familiarized with the subject at hand, you could bet that he was the next time you met up.
He had an education in art education. He was an artist, and a collector. His true obsessions were Haviland china, bisque figurines, and books. A special bookcase had to be built for all of his books, and still some had to be stacked on the floor. Organized, and visually pleasing, of course.
He was a classic movie buff, loved sitcoms, and the theater. This was one of many commonalities we had. And of course, we had differing opinions. But regardless, we both appreciated the vast intricacies of the mediums.
Tom was the consummate customer service person. He worked for the City of Tualatin as a dispatcher, several commercial book companies, the Court of Tualatin, and his passion, working in antique malls. He retired from Powell's Books in late 2008. His interest in, and support of, McLoughlin House in Oregon City were lifelong.
Tom's sense of humor, always ready with a joke, was legendary. His wit was sharp and often insightful. I would like to retell some of his more humorous jokes, but I'm blushing, and it's probably best not repeated in mixed company.
When I was working in sales while living in the Portland area, a very stressful time in my life, there was more than a time or two that I'd visit Tom as he was working at one particular antique mall in Multnomah, and we'd discuss the immense minutiae of life. We solved a lot of the world's problems, but mostly he was there for me. Always supportive, always attentive, and always brutally honest.
Tom's life was well-lived...and he was well-loved.
I will miss my friend Tom.