I'm going to share a note I wrote this morning in hopes it will spur some of you, my readers, to think of somebody you've lost touch with and let them know you haven't forgotten them.
Back in 1969, Cliff went to work at the Country Butcher Shop. The owner of that shop had several kids, the oldest of whom was Tom, then a teenager. He grew up to form a construction company, first with his brother and then by himself. There was a brief time when he took over the butcher shop, but it eventually closed. Whatever business Tom was running, there was always a place for Cliff if he needed it. I'm not sharing this to make myself look like a wonderful person; I just wanted to do a public tribute (the last I knew, Tom refused to get on the Internet, but he will have the actual hard copy). I want you to think of an important someone you have lost touch with.
It's just so easy to forget.
August 11, 2016
Hello there, Tom, and happy birthday!
Years ago when I was still sending greeting cards to friends and family on a regular basis, I set up birthday reminders on the Internet. Well, I stopped sending cards to anybody years ago, but I still get reminders in my email; I usually delete them immediately. Half those people are dead anyhow, at this point.
But for some reason, when I got a notice last Sunday announcing that “Tom's birthday” was coming up, I didn't want to delete it. I thought to myself, “We've totally lost touch with him. He probably thinks we've forgotten him; we'll send him a birthday card.”
You played a vital role in our lives throughout our marriage, and this seems like a time to remind you that we appreciate everything you've done over the years. When Cliff lost other jobs, he could always fall back on you and you would make sure he got in 40 hours a week, even if you had to put him to making chicken nests. Most people who lose jobs don't have such a “fall-back” place.
I remember you coming to our house at Oak Grove when the kids were small, giving them motorcycle rides. Both of them considered you a sort of super-hero back then. In fact, I recall three-year-old Jimmy trying to make his voice sound lower and more adult, saying, “I'm Tom”, pretending to be you.
I still have, and use, the leather-tooled checkbook cover you made me back then. I don't write many checks these days, but when I do, I think of you. I'm almost superstitious about it, as though it's the lucky charm that kept us from falling into bankruptcy during hard times... but of course, it isn't the checkbook that saved us, it was Tom Dent in person, always willing to put Cliff back on the payroll if needed; he didn't have to come to you, hat in hand and begging. You found something for him to do and put him to work, apparently glad for his return.
I asked Cliff if there was anything in particular around here that reminds him of things you have done for us. He named so many things I can't remember them all. He did mention the various times you voluntarily helped him do things around here: building our old barn, building fence, putting a floor in the bathroom of the old house (while doing that job, you guys lost Cliff's hammer that Boyde had given him. It was found under the floor last year when the grandson remodeled).
Cliff mentioned the letter “W” (for Wood) on the high point of the barn, said you were the one who put it there.
We went shopping for a birthday card with the intention of getting a nice, serious one, but they were all too corny and none of them said what we wanted. So we bought a silly card that you'll relate to, and I'm writing a letter saying exactly what I want, in my own words.
Have a great birthday. You are never forgotten. We love you.