Today I saw on Facebook that one of my hometown Texas friends had added my name to a photo that she posted. When I looked, my brother Jim was in the photo along with several other kids. One of those kids was Tommy Williams, who was one of my brother Jim’s best friends back then. I was so pleased to see their faces as little boys. Of course, i have a special spot in my heart for Jim, but I also have one for Tommy. In fact, I had written a blog piece about Tommy way back in 2012.
Here is that piece again. I am also including the photo from Facebook today. Tommy is the first boy on the top row on the left. My brother Jim is the second boy from the left on the bottom row. They were eight years older than I was so when I was three, they were 11. They are in first grade in this photo, which means I was not even born yet.
Thank you Pam Walker Durham for sharing that photo. That brought a big smile to my face!
Today I was cleaning out a closet and I found a big envelope of clippings and pictures from my mother’s house, which I received after she died. I unfolded a newspaper and saw that I was looking at the obituary page. At first, I wondered why Mom had saved this paper, then my eyes focused on the face of a man who looked familiar. I looked at the name and it read, Tom Williams.
Tom Williams! Oh, goodness.
When I was a little girl, no older than three, Tom Williams lived two blocks away from our house on 13th Street. I thought he was the handsomest boy I had ever seen – and I added an imaginary friend to my life (along with another named Heidi). That friend’s name was Tommy Wizzims.
Tom Williams was my older brother’s friend so he was around our house a lot. He must have been nice to me because even now thinking about him I feel a warm feeling in my heart. He must have also known that I had an imaginary friend with his very own name, pronounced only in the way a three-year-old can. I can’t help but think that must have brought a smile to his face.
I read in his obituary that he died in a car accident when he was 58. He had been married, had four kids, and at the time of his death had a woman in his life, who had been his “companion” for several years. He ran a nursing home, and the obituary said that the residents’ faces would “light up” when Tom came into the room.
My eyes filled with tears. That’s just how I felt when I saw him when I was a little girl. Happy. Pure and simple.
I didn’t know that Tom Williams had died. I felt sad that his life was prematurely cut short. I thought about my little imaginary playmates, Tommy and Heidi, and how my mother indulged me by setting places for them at the table. Mom told me once that I would pull on her sleeve and say, “But they’re hungry!”
The kindness of one person can have a wide impact. It sounds as if that was the case with my Tommy Wizzims.
What a strange item to find today in my clean-up efforts. But it reminded me of one teenage boy who took the time to be kind to a little girl. What a lovely person he must have been.
Clearly, he meant something to Mom as well. Enough for her to save that obituary.