My friend Tom

We went to the funeral of a very dear old friend this week. Tom Nichols was 93 and had mostly lost his sight and hearing but was still his old, witty self when we last saw him alive two weeks ago. What I’ll personally remember most about Tom is his fervor for all sports but mostly for Notre Dame. I really have never liked Notre Dame so over the years that was a source of kidding between us. In 30 years, I have never watched a Notre Dame game or saw their name in the paper that I didn’t think immediately of Tom. If I live to be 93, I’m sure I’ll never see Notre Dame without mentally hooking up with Tom. If you talked any sports with Tom, you better know your stuff because he had it all covered – any sport, any stat, for the past 70 years. He never ceased to amaze me. After he retired he took up wood working as a hobby and made lots of small yard pieces. It got really scarey as his eyes failed and he was still out in the garage with a small band saw. Luckily, he decided to quit before he lost any body parts. We had a ritual with his daughter, Betty. Every other week we’d travel to Altamonte on Sunday afternoon and have a pizza, some wings, and a few beers. We ordered enough to fill us and take a doggy bag home for Gramps. Not sure what we’ll do with the leftovers now.

I got to wear my big boy dress up clothes to the funeral. I have a couple of suits I bought in Hong Kong in 1986 and they still fit perfectly. It would be more accurate to say that they fit again since there were about 20 years where I had grown a bit and they fit like sausage skins. So I guess I’m back to where I was 20+ years ago. I also put on my only pair of black dress shoes. I had bought these about 10 years ago and probably worn them twice. They even had the little cardboard pieces that come with new shoes and keep them properly shaped. While we were in the church, I noticed that I was sticking to the floor and figured some kid had dropped some candy or something. After the service we went to the graveside for final, final goodbyes and then on to his granddaughter’s home for a small gathering and a few commemorative beers.

I picked up a beer on the way in and walked through the house to the pool area where I found a great spot to sit. A bit later Nancy comes in and asks to see the bottom of my shoes because there was crap all over the floor in the house and she suspected I had stepped in something. Everybody was being checked so it wasn’t just me. Sure enough, I was the culprit. But it wasn’t that I had stepped in something, it was that the heels of the shoes were disintegrating and coming off in big chunks. Then people commented that they had seen all the “dirt” on the rug of the church and assumed that the cleaning people had just done a poor job. I spent the rest of the party in my stocking feet. That was really bizarre since these shoes were good ones, ECCO’s, that I’d paid over $100 for and had been safely stored away in a closet.

Another funny thing that came out of the funeral came from Tom’s 3 great grand children. They are in the 8-10 age group I think. Throughout the church service the priest consistently referred to Tom as Tom. The kids kept wondering who Tom was since they had only known him as Gramps. Somebody clued the priest into this toward the end and he switched over to gramps.

This next week we do our November trip to Flagler Beach. The blues are running strong – what a coincidence. Nancy takes her quilting stuff, I take my fishing gear, and we drag along a few bottles of wine. We have several “favorite” restaurants there and have almost attained “regular” status. What more is there. This November we’ll have a double beach vacation since Joey and Mark are managing a beach resort for the first 3 weeks of November. The thinking now is that we’ll come home from Flagler for a day or so and then head over to Cocoa Beach for some comparative fishing. So if anybody needs us or wants to come visit, we’ll be on our cell.

Politics – Congrats to my Dem friends. The country must feel safe with a soft on terrorist leader and must feel that a turn to socialism is a good think. Hope you’re all correct. I look at it like we survived Jimmy Carter so we’ll probably survive this too. And it will be fun going on the offensive again instead of having to defend the current administration.

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