My brother, Tommy, had the gift of gab |

My brother, Tommy, had the gift of gab

Before our parents had grandchildren, their minds were on their children. They’d tell people, “We have six children, and they’re all different.” True enough, I suppose … but Tommy, the youngest, was more ‘different’ than the rest of us.

When he was just a toddler, he broke his leg horsing around with his cousins. A cast didn’t curtail his activity, since he’d crawl around dragging the casted leg until the cast wore off and it had to be replaced. Also, while still a toddler, he ran away from home, heading for the pasture. He had undressed completely for the occasion … to assure total freedom. He didn’t get far because the dog was with him and they both were missed. And when he was about 10 years old, he walked two miles to his classmate Larry’s house, arriving in time for supper. Larry’s dad called our number, saying, “Did you know Tommy is here?” He was missed of course, but where he was … was a surprise.

He was a cutup all the way through school, I think because he craved attention, and that’s what he got. He had a minor part in the junior class play which became major when he adlibbed some jokes that weren’t in the script.

He seemed born to bend the rules. I was there the evening he said he had to write a poem for English class. He thumbed trough Mom’s magazine and selected one of the poems printed there. A lesser mind would have copied the poem, but he altered it, adding and subtracting words until he had customized it for his purpose.

Before he got his driver’s license, our dad drove him to town on Wednesday nights to choir practice. An hour later, he’d be waiting at the church to be picked up. But instead of going inside to choir, he’d sneak downtown to hang out with his friends for an hour. The jig was up when the choir director said to Mom, “We appreciate Tom in the choir every Sunday, but he really should come to practice.”

He had a rich baritone voice. As a grown-up he sang karaoke, and he recorded a tape for me of his karaoke songs, complete with the backup bands.

He grew up to be a salesman, selling insurance and working with Olan Mills photographers in their sales department … successfully, because he liked being around people and had “the gift of the gab.” At our family gatherings he’d be the center of attention, telling funny stories and jokes. A happy blossoming after a mischievous and adventurous childhood.

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