The 'BARKING OWL' always has something to say, and like the feathered version, can be either WISE...............or ANNOYING!

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Few Memories of My Brother Tom

Something I wrote for my brother's funeral today.  The funeral is in Alaska, but 5 of his siblings will meet in Wisconsin this afternoon and watch via the internet:

Tom is on the bottom, the baby boy (me) is on top.

Picture a staid and sober guy, in the middle of a serious discussion about....oh, about ANYTHING; from peak oil to old Pontiacs; or from Alaskan politics to chain saw sharpening. That's Tom. And then he says "Hey Mike, what's this?" and he starts jumping up and down with his arms flailing above his head, face all in a panicking grimace, and screaming as if in terrible pain! I am tempted to say "I almost got it, could you do it again?", but since this is Tom's very oldest gag and he knows I've seen it a million times, I laugh again at the crazy antics of his seemingly favorite joke, and say "The first man on the sun!" Then of course Tom regains his professional composure, sweeps the long bangs out of his eyes (this is a very old memory) and mumbles something like "why yes, the first man on the's damn hot up there you know..." Then he says, "Did you know...?" but before he can get quite back into the discussion about jellyfish or camera optics he grabs the nearest of his loving nieces by the waist and tickles her madly like only a favorite Uncle could!

I've been pretty mopey all week. How could it be that one of my brothers, the oldest and most munificent, whose generosity and great desire to simply share, whether from his horde or from his want, poured happily into my life as it did into any life that came within Tom's range, is now gone? The first smile came back to me when I pictured him doing his first man on the sun bit. But other smiles of gratitude have followed.

Tom came home from Viet Nam with a fancy camera he bought in Hong Kong. He let me "play" with it freely. Somehow I stripped the film inside to shreds. One year he left his cool 10 speed bike at home for me to use. I crashed it. When I arrived in Ketchikan car less after my Nova died in British Columbia in April of 1982, he not only put me up, but let me use his big old orange van to get around the island and look for a job. I ate too much, and used too much gas. When I got a cool job on Prince of Wales Island, he set me up with the rain gear and halibut jacket etc. that I would need until my first check came in. I paid him back! When my fiance arrived a few months later he and Terry put her up as well! And then both of us for a few weeks until we were married on September 11th.

The date did not matter then, and Tom never even mentioned to me that day, that it was his birthday! Thanks for standing up for me that day Tom. I am glad to stand up today, and honor you as my big brother. Thanks for always being willing to help me out, and to share, more than anything else, your great love for me and my family; for Kiki and Victoria and Noah and Josh. Me, my wife, and the kids all love you deeply, and we will miss your renowned input into our lives.

By the way...MILLERWRITES copy is COPYRIGHTED. Why cut and paste when you can simply copy the link?