A Tribute to Tom

Posted on September 14, 2019 under Storytelling with 18 comments

Tom and his beloved dog, Oslo


My hero, my brother Tom, the inspiration for my Camino walk, has died.

He taught us how to live a life of passion and how to die with dignity.

Tom was a person of considerable energy and enormous empathy. Most of his life was spent in fifth gear. He had a zest for living. Whether working, volunteering, hiking or cooking, he did it with gusto. As people are wont to say, “He was all in”.

From an early age, he displayed his entrepreneurial skills by trapping muskrats and operating an ice cream stand. His work ethic was something to behold. His attention to detail in every aspect of his life left us all shaking our heads. His spreadsheets were legendary!

He and his wife Catherine loved to entertain. Getting a dinner invitation from them was something to be treasured. I often had the pleasure of hanging out in their kitchen watching this amazing tandem put their considerable cooking skills to work.

Several years ago, he received the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia’s award for distinguished service in the field of municipal administration. His family was justifiably proud but none more so than our mother who attended the ceremony, beaming with pride.

Approximately ten years ago, Tom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. The prognosis wasn’t great. In all the ensuing years we never heard him utter the words “Why me?” He faced the illness head on as he did with everything else in his life. His mantra was so telling. “I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of not living.” And oh, how he lived this last decade of his life. He made every day count. He would be very upset with me if I dared mention that he battled cancer courageously. That’s not how he viewed things. He, Catherine and their service dog, Oslo,  all volunteered at the B.C. Cancer Agency in Victoria. Even when he wasn’t feeling the best, he always reminded us that there were other people in far worse condition. I don’t know of a more selfless person.

Tom was a marathon runner, which morphed into marathon walking when his body told him to stop running. He knew every trail in Greater Victoria. Recognizing the need for water taps on these trails for both man and beast, he rolled up his sleeves and used his considerable skill and charm to convince several local municipal councils to assist with the project. He then went out and raised all the money for these unique fountains.

You can tell a lot about a person by the quality of their friends. Tom had a wide swath of really remarkable friends from all walks of life.

Tom’s beloved dog , Oslo, his loyal walking partner, died a few months ago.

A little over a year ago,with his health in decline, Tom decided to walk the Camino in Spain. Among other things, he wanted to pay homage to his best friend, Mark Taylor, who died tragically a number of years prior. Having walked the Camino myself this spring, I simply don’t know how he managed the long distance and uneven terrain. I remain awestruck at this achievement.

Earlier this year, I paid a visit to Tom and Catherine. He asked me to join him for some snowshoeing. Even with his compromised health, I had great difficulty keeping up with Tom as his long strides plowed effortlessly through the snow on a breathtakingly beautiful day on Mt. Washington.

His wife Catherine and children, Colin and Emily will miss him terribly. His siblings are bereft at his passing but the last thing Tom would want is pity. That’s not how he rolled.

A quote printed in Reader’s Digest years ago in the segment “Points to Ponder” rings true today. It describes Tom to perfection.

“Let me live until I die.”

Farewell, Tom.


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