Laughing with Tom
Tom and I catching up and laughing over some fun memory

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with my old friend Tom. If you ever have the chance to catch up with a friend you’ve known for 45+ years, do it.

Tom’s youngest son Jay (Jordan in the formal) and I met back in junior high school. His family moved into my neighborhood when they relocated from the Washington DC area. We (almost) instantly became friends and started hanging out whenever possible. Jay was highly intelligent, much more so than I, even more so in the arts. He was a poet, lover of theatrical music (Yes, Rush), and brought me to love Monty Python. I’m fairly certain that he memorized all of the funniest lines from the show, remembering that this was long before you could actually record and play back a TV show. His audible memorization was from a single viewing, not repeated watch, rewind, re-watch episodes.

His mom, Sarah (or was it Sara?) was a child psychologist and author of several books if memory serves me right. I was never really sure, at the time, what his father Tom did for a living. I remember that Jay was born in Quito, Ecuador when his father worked for the US State Department. There were four older sisters including the youngest of them, Jane. If I remember correctly, Jane was a freshman or perhaps a sophomore at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA when they moved in. The older sisters were Louisa, a definite 1960s free spirit, Eloise (I never knew her well) and Arabella who was a Presbyterian minister (married to Rob, a non-Presbyterian minister).

My parents became friends with Tom and Sarah through church and, of course, their boys Jay and I. We each practically lived at each other’s house. We lived almost a mile apart, but it was a very short bike ride or walk if needed. Both Jay and I were in excellent physical shape so thought nothing of the quick journey.

Reliving some painful memories, the family has had more of their share of pain over the years. Sarah was the first person I knew that suffered from and died from pancreatic cancer. She died when Jay was a sophomore in high school, at just 15 years old. Her sickness is not a big memory of mine, I just remember that it was exceptionally quick from learning about the sickness to attending her funeral at our church.

I introduced Jay to my first girlfriend, Lori. While Jay dated quite a bit, he was almost immediately infatuated with Lori, falling quickly and into 16-year old love. We often hung out as the three musketeers as they were truly my two best friends. I was happy for them and not at all jealous.

It was just a year later that Jay would also pass. I was home from school for several weeks due to a severe case of mononucleosis (AKA mono). Jay and I talked often, but he wanted to come and see me before he was to drive to Bethesda and visit his old friends for the weekend. He stopped by and we chatted for a bit before he took off for Maryland. Little did I know that I was the last person he would see when he was alive. Route 15 goes from the Harrisburg, PA area south through Gettysburg and into Emmitsburg, Maryland. At the time, the road was 4-lanes in Pennsylvania, narrowing to a 2-lane road in Maryland.

The story was that Jay fell asleep and crossed the median into northbound traffic. He hit a northbound car that had a young family. The mother and young child died in the crash. Jay lived for a few days until it was determined that he was brain dead with only the machines keeping him alive. He died shortly afterwards.

Tom and my father went to the police station / tow yard together to get the personal belongings from what was left of the car. Tom told me recently that he greatly appreciated my father for that.

I loved the fact that I was able to share a meal and share some good laughs with Tom again. At nearly 99, he is a joy to be with and am happy to say has been part of my circle of friends for over 45 years.

Work continues on painting the garage. I’m sore from climbing the ladders all day yesterday, but the progress is amazing. I still need to frame out a couple of windows but those are easy. Then, to finish painting the back, a couple of spots in the front (including a second coat where needed), and to paint all of the white. It’ll be a long day but should have 3 of the four sides completed by this evening. Now, off to get a few 1″x2″ boards to replace rotting wood on the edge of the front and around one of the rear windows.

We have a stand alone garage (with an attached annex). While we could use it for storing cars, most of the year, we just stash stuff that doesn’t really have a home elsewhere. In the annex, we store all of the pellets we use as our primary source of heat during the winter.

Two weeks ago, I got this incredibly dumb idea that it was finally time to start prepping and painting the garage. The paint was falling off in large chunks and the wood often full of woodpecker holes. We actually purchased the paint almost 3 years ago but never took on the task of using it until now.

The first side to be started was the one closest to the house. This involved manually scraping the wood and figuring out how to deal with the pockets of paint that were under the edge of practically every piece of siding. To say it was painful is a significant understatement. But once it was done, it was ready for paint and replacement of the end boards. It was only after that side was mostly completed that the idea of using the power washer was suggested to me. It worked well on the remaining sides – it just takes a few days to dry afterwards or the paint won’t adhere well and will bubble after just a few years.

So the garage is now ready to be painted (after it drys) and I can replace a ton of the accent (& corner) boards!

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