My Dear Vagabond Friend

tom-7

Vagabond

Definition

  • 1: moving from place to place without a fixed home : wandering

I loved you dear friend. You were like a brother to me. A very good brother. I will miss you so very much.

I called my friend about a week and a half ago to let him know that all of the efforts he had put in to restoring my computer had succeeded. He was always doing something to help me, just like a good brother would.

We came to know each other 13 years ago now, when I first moved here from California to be near my sister. She was working at the Horseshoe Cafe at the time and he would come in to eat there and ‘pester’ her on a regular basis. They had become friends as time went on. She had an older man friend whom she took care of and my vagabond friend, Tom, became friends with him as well. My sister let Tom know that I was intending to come to live nearby and assured him that he and I would have a great deal more in common than they did.

It was likely the next day after I arrived that he showed up at the older gentleman’s house, where I would be staying for about a month until I found the house I am still living in 13 years later. Tom and I indeed did hit it off in the sense that we enjoyed talking about subjects that my sister felt boring or too in depth; but the friendship would evolve over time.

It just so happened that the house I found was just down a little hill from where Tom had been living for a year before I got here. I didn’t know it at the time as I only knew Tom as much as to meet him initially upon arriving. It would soon be though, that if a holiday or birthday occurred, we would all get together like a family. I can’t even really remember how our friendship evolved other than that because of my sister, her older friend and Tom having already become a little family of sorts, we all ended up being together regularly.

I’m sure, initially, Tom and I may have looked at each other with possible romantic thought; but, you know, it really never manifest that way. It just wasn’t there. We appreciated each others intellect I think and that just superseded everything else. Friendship was simply much more attractive.

People say, men and women cannot begin and remain platonic; but I’m here to tell you that they can indeed.

Tom passed away suddenly, while traveling, on January 17, 2017. He was only 68 years old. As I said at the beginning, I had called him to let him know about my computer because I knew he wanted to know. He sounded sleepy. It was mid afternoon, about 3 or so and I asked him if he was sleeping when I called. “No”, he said, “I ate something that didn’t agree with me. Can I call you back?”

I didn’t bother him that day and may even have let another day go by before trying again. I did have a troubled feeling; but it wasn’t odd for him to behave that way, not call me right back. When I did try to call again, his phone went immediately to a recording, which was, indeed very strange. That had never occurred before; but it wasn’t unlike him to get mad about a phone service, get a replacement phone and take awhile to let me know. Something kept gnawing at me, none the less. I kept trying to call, even asked a friend to try to see if it was something about my phone. Same thing. So, I sent him an email on the 12th asking him to please let me know that he was okay. I kept trying to reach him by phone, but the same thing continued until the 17th when a police officer called me, “Do you know Thomas Fitzgerald?” Dread immediately overtook me. He asked several qualifying questions, like “How do you know him? Does he have any family? When did you last speak to him.” Then he asked me if I was sitting down and delivered the bad news.

I call Tom, lovingly, my vagabond friend because about a year or so ago, he gave up living in his house up the hill from me and started wandering, looking for a new place to settle. This trip, he was on his way to Oregon, where he had a male friend of many years whom he visited at least annually. He loved Oregon, had lived there before and was thinking he might like to live there again.

The coroner’s office said that it was likely a heart attack.

The sad thing about it all is that I am realizing that as much as I knew Tom, I really hardly knew him. But that was how he wanted it and I respected his desires.

I was the only number in his cell phone. I know he had a sister but I don’t even know her name or where she lives. They were estranged. I have no legal rights to anything to do with him, so there is nothing I can do to help.

I truly believe that this is how Tom wanted it. Even now, if he could, he would be saying, “Sarah, now you don’t need to be telling anyone about this, okay?”

I can’t not tell anyone. He needs and deserves some kind of memorial. I want this post to be that for him and I will share it with the friends I have that knew him, and anyone who wants to can comment about their experience with him.

My old pastor called today to offer his condolences and I mentioned things that stand out about Tom. Here are those and many more.

He was a gentle man and a gentleman.

He never held a grudge with me and was terribly tolerant of my own personality quirks.

We fought over what movie to watch. I said he was staid; he liked old, old things that bored me to tears. Black and white mainly. Obscure things, (It was ALWAYS about the music within the story). He would put on WC Fields on his computer and sit there and laugh his head off. I would retire to the kitchen, just shaking my head and proceed to do the dishes. He hated what I liked.

He loved what I would call classical music, he called it simply music and anything else was not music. He was truly a musical genius, had studied it, played saxophone (never for me) and downloaded constantly; delighted with the 2000 plus collection he had on his several hard drives, (which he purchased for the express service of downloading music). He visited libraries everywhere he went to see what selections they had. He made CD’s for me that I never listened to and would find them in my glove compartment with delight in remembering that he had remembered to give me a copy of that particular performance and then would go into the history and it’s value and on and on and I would look at him with a weird look and say, “Okay, okay, maybe someday I’ll listen to it.”

I think I may listen to them now to find him in them somehow.

He was in the main street parade at Disneyland for a time long ago. He loved Maria Callas. Loved, loved loved Maria. Did I say he loved Maria?

He could work any technical appliance and was great with cars. He regularly worried about my car, cleaned the tires to make them look nice with his special tire cleaning stuff. He changed my oil and was constantly after me to change it again because there was a better oil he had discovered.

We talked about anything and everything and laughed a lot. It was very easy to make him laugh.

He was kind.

He liked to talk to people. Everywhere we went, I would be miles ahead of him, finished with my trek around while he was still visiting with the first person he had captured. We went all over together on day trips and had great times, laughing, talking and laughing some more.

Sitting here, I’m remembering what seems like a lifetime of memories. We really did have a lot of fun together. And we helped each other a lot. We don’t always get the family we want but we can always pick who we want to be like family.

Tom was my family.

Yes, I will miss him so very much.

tom-2

One year we took a trek to Willcox, about 40 miles East of Benson to have Christmas dinner at a greasy spoon there. He picked up papers everywhere he went. He was always reading. tom-11

When I complained that all he had was brown and yellow food and no veggies, he revisited the bar to add some color.

tom-6

Below was my plates.

tom-5

He went back and got some salad stuffs. It just made me cry to see the check-out ticket in his pocket. He was such a nice man.

tom-4

He had his van stocked so neatly with his travel gear. When he was in town he always came to visit.

dscn5259

Below: He had corralled me to drive with him to Tucson so that we could pick up his van that had been repaired. He treated me to lunch while there. On the way back, we had to stop to put coolant/water into the radiator of his car as it was leaking. He got that fixed and that was what he was traveling in most recently. His van is still here in town. I can see the little Jack In The Box antenna toy sticking up over the fence. He loved toys. Was always showing up with some animated thing or a stuffed critter for the kitties.

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Here he was changing my oil and while at it, replacing the plug that someone had put in so tight he barely got it off.

tom-changing-my-oil2

New oil plug.

tom-changing-my-oil

He decorated his cupola with an angel candle holder. He changed it out on whims of fancy. Once it was a dinosaur toy that he painted up, Godzilla I think he was trying to make it.

tom-cornucopia

He saw me at my worst and never criticized me. He didn’t care one iota if I had make-up on or not; but if I was dressed up nicely, he never failed to compliment me.

I wish I’d hugged him more.

So many more memories, but this is enough to give you the gist of who he was, at least to me.

He took a trip sometime back, up the coast of California and took lots of video images of things he was witnessing as he drove and walked at different spots of interest. He showed it all to me on his computer. I wish I could get his video recorder now because it would be his voice and thoughts to reminisce with.

I shall just have to work hard to keep it in my mind.

Please feel free to comment any stories you may have or sentiments you might want to share.

I want this to be a memorial to my Dear Vagabond Friend, Thomas Francis Fitzgerald.

RIP You very nice man. You deserve a rest.

tom-8

This is the latest music he sent me from his YouTube account on Dec. 26, 2016, just before the New Year. It had this prelude to me; I wasn’t always able to fully comprehend the inferences:

“This music UTV from the  Internet is being sent to YOU my pet , not from a silly mouse but from a frail human , as if you hadn’t guessed. My non de plumb is ever ready to answer, in writing, your most ardent requests, and I hope to always keep our friendship alive and never have  it freeze. My mind, on the other hand, can get too often numb these days and  I resolve  to find ways to keep the glacier and fog  away from it . Being born in August is such a deceitful thing to do, and Obama has made me see it  CINDY !  Yes, you see in just a few days I can say I have lived another year when really I still have over 230 days to go. Finding good champagne is such a bore but now I don’t even  have to go ! Happy, Happy, Happy .( I know NOW you are one in a million . Thank You .  I hope to pull off your lotto winners and all I want is the numbers. You will get the proceeds and you won’t have to  rep  it either ! ) ”

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One thought on “My Dear Vagabond Friend

  1. Pingback: Good On Paper | Ms. Jackie of all Trades…

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