Saturday, February 15, 2014

Tom Hummel

Job: 9; 27; “If I say “I will forget my complaint; I will change my expression and smile.”

It’s interesting to remember that in the beginning there was a warm and welcoming smile.

It was one that didn’t judge, but welcomed in full of joy.

An acceptance of at first being kind in return, and experiencing a fun loving environment, held together by the notion that all was right under his household.

A lover of the Outdoors; Humor; Picnics; Baseball; Scouts; God.

Early in life, afternoons were spent in the home of my best friend, Ben Hummel. Under the watchful eye of Lynn, or Gigi as she was known to us kids, we would play outside, or attempt to reach high scores on this new awesome game called brick-out and wait for someone to pick us up after school. We would enjoy cook-outs by Tom and the backyard grill, and Scotty frolicking around from an unseen and unbreakable bond. (Later on, the mantle would be picked up by Goldie.)

When venturing to King Soopers, it was not so uncommon to see Tom in the deli department, whereupon he would take time to visit and even when busy would give a smile and a wave. Sometimes, I would go to the store and just chat with him – he had that welcoming soul, and kind heart.

When a traumatic event happened to me in high school, my family and I moved to the other side of town. I eventually lost touch with Ben, as when his senior year had ended, he unbeknownst to me also moved to the other side of town to his grandmother’s ranch home.

Having been in a dark place after my event, there weren’t too many people I wanted to be around.

I had the idea to drive by Ben’s old Aurora home in search of reconnecting; alas I found an empty house.

I drove to the old King Soopers in search of that familiar warm greeting – also not to be found.

When my life had got back on track, how odd and at the same time a relief it was to see at the local King Soopers in my new and unfamiliar surroundings across town the warm smile I had been searching for.

It was Tom. Stocking the deli shelves, just as I had ever known him to do. And with him, his trademark smile as if no time had passed at all. A little grayer, but so was I. But a good, kind-hearted smile never fades.

I was able to reconnect with my childhood friend.

If it hadn’t been for the guiding light that was Tom, Ben would not have been my Best Man at my wedding.

But what really constitutes a Best Man?

The measure of a Best Man are the morals and ethics by which he lives: True, kind, selfless, giving, self-sacrificing, genuine, forgiving, accepting – these are attributes of a Best Man; the qualities of which have been passed down to Tom’s sons Ben, Dan, Tommy, Ted, and Chris, all of whom I have considered brothers.

The last time I saw Tom, he was in a nursing home of sorts while his internal suffering was increasing.

What amazed me the most is that without complaint, he beamed his smile to me as if no time had passed at all; no fear, no pain – a smile to carry on, and a memory to hold.

This is Tom Hummel.

Respect is taken, when respect is given...

Namaste and Slainte

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