Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Letters to the dead: Tom

My friend Ren has a blog where she collects letters to the dead. I've sent one for my friend Rich and one for my sister Marjorie. I have a couple half done, and occasionally worked on, for my mom and dad which I'll finish and send one of these days. This last coupla weeks, I've worked out my own sorrow about Tom by writing one of these letters to him. I'm not yet ready to put the whole thing up but I think I wanna share this part.


Tom was graced with a gaggle of granddaughters, so he naturally called ‘em his “boys.” “C’mon, boys, we’re going crabbing.” “You boys help get that stuff ready if we’re going waterskiing and tubing.” Etc. Naturally, they ate it up. Papa was Papa and could do no wrong. Our older daughter, MJ, and her close-in-age cousin Chelsea were Papa’s oldest granddaughters and his go-to boys. When he got a bit older, they’d go out with Papa to drop the crab pots, retrieve the crab-pots, and measure and sort the catch for him. Crab for dinner tonight! They were his clamming buddies, going for their limit and anxious to return home for some fresh seafood.

The bond between Papa and his boys was a wondrous, thick chain of links forged from love, unbreakable, unyielding, and untouchable. Their sadness is profound. I have had many a shirt soaked through with tears over the last couple of days and Papa hasn’t even died yet. Tom has had a long life and a good one. I desperately wish I could make these last days better for him but all that can be done is being done and I guess that has to count as enough. [Clearly, this part was written before Tom died.] It breaks my heart so terribly that I am unable to ameliorate the emotional suffering of our poor, sweet gang of “Papa’s boys.” Their sorrow is vast. Their grief inconsolable. And I am bereft of healing balm for their wounds. This train does not pass through Gilead.

I will not extoll Tom’s virtues here like a grocery list; I would find that demeaning somehow. They are best summed up in the simple sentence: Papa Tom was a good man. Really, when you strip away the chaff, the fluff, the frippery, if you can say that about someone, you’ve said everything that needs to be said.


Tom and some of his "boys"

I love you, Tom.

Tom's obituary is posted here.


  1. I'm really sorry Frank. I do love though how you summed things up with such simple yet moving words.
    I'm thinking of you (more than usual), Craig

  2. I had put off reading this because I knew it would make me cry. It didn't help to delay the inevitable.

  3. Much love to you all, Frank.