It was two days before Memorial Day, and my friend Tom had open heart surgery. I’ll never look at Memorial Day the same way again.
Memorial Day is everyone’s day off in this country. You celebrate it however you want, whether you’re a student or an employee. It’s hard to think of it as a day that commemorates the people who gave their lives for us.
Tom is a guy who is always gotten me thinking about allegiances. He is always wearing New York Yankees shirts and I am a Chicago team supporter, and I always wanted him to go along with that. It’s just another one of those things that seems so shallow and petty when the guy is going in for open heart surgery.
Tom being a Yankees fan I could live with, but he was also a fan of the Republican party and Donald. I’m a Democrat. Suffice to say, the two of us would disagree all the time about politics. This is one of the ways we joked and jabbed with each other. It would be hard to take us to seriously. It is like trying to convince a Sox fan to be a Cub fan and visa versa.
Still, Tom is a reliable stand up guy who would help you out whenever you needed help. I also found out he was a veteran of the Vietnam War when I asked him to speak at the Northbrook Civic Center last year. We’re talking about a guy who sees John Wayne in a war movie as a young man and then more or less wants to be him and enlists in the military.
He sent his troops into battle in Cambodia back in the day. All the men died. When he flew back, he and the other soldiers were asked to change into civilian clothing because there was a local protest at O’hare airport and there was fear for these brave soldiers. I was against the war in Vietnam, but I was also against treating these soldiers like symbols of a foreign policy that I rejected and not as people.
Tom was a great orator and he was really able to give his story the gravitas that it deserved. I’m not a veteran and I could never imagine going through what he did. However, he was capable of making people at least feel like they were there. He gives so much back to the veterans of war and when he discusses it you can feel his passion. Tom is a great guy!
I started blogging in November of 2015, and I asked Tom if he could start commenting on what I posted. I was mainly writing about The Glen in Glenview, even though he doesn’t live in The Glen he would comment on every Blog I wrote. I started blogging 3 times a week and there was Tom commenting on each and every blog.
Regardless of how I feel about Tom’s politics, he’s still the kind of guy who has a good word for everyone and who could always lend support to anyone who was struggling and needed a friend. He was always a guy who was happy to help and who was happy to see everyone. It always amazed me how he loved everyone and everyone loves Tom.
Now Tom is going through open heart surgery, and it’s near Memorial Day. He’s the man who gave Memorial Day a new meaning for me. Some would say that he actually restored the true meaning of Memorial Day for me. One way or another, this is a day that is never going to be the same for me now.
The days have passed and now it’s more than a week since the surgery. This has been a difficult week as Tom is struggling and it seems his doctors have struggled as well. Our only communication is through Tom’s friend Bill who has to wait for an email from Toms wife, Bonnie. Every couple of days we get an email. I am unhappy about the news and lack of progress.
Bill has forwarded a message from Tom’s wife about 4 days ago, saying that he’s doing better. His pulse is stronger and his color is finally starting to come back. He’s managed to pass all of the neurological tests that he was given. While he’s still unconscious, the hospital staff has said that they’re happy with the amount of progress that he’s made. Since that email things don’t seem to of gotten better and news is taking longer to arrive. It is going to take him longer than ten days to recover as we were originally told. I guess that’s always just an estimate. I’ll have to reschedule my visit.
This is a series of emails that are difficult for me and others. Things don’t seem to progress like they should and I’m worried for my friend. We don’t know how and why these things happen but I hope the next email has more encouraging news. Tom is missed by all and I can feel a sense of frustration from our group of friends.
I keep reminding myself that Tom has been through worse struggles than this. This is a man who has fought on the battlefield before, and that didn’t land him in the hospital like his heart. There are some challenges that get all of us in the end, of course. However, I hope the Lord has heard our prayers this time around. Tom has made it through another battle, and I can’t wait to see him again.
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