Tommy Vee

7:00 am. The name “Tommy Vee” pops up on my text message:

“Hey, Gloria! Are you going to the High School Reunion, too? I just bought my plane tickets!”

“Tommy! How wonderful to hear from you! I didn’t even know we were having one! When and where is it?”

“On October 14th right there, back on Staten Island.”

“OMG! How I’d love to go! Funny thing happened, though; by then, I’ll be in the middle of chemo and radiation.”

“Can you talk for a few minutes?”

“Absolutely!”

The phone rings and my mind seizes on this sweet little 5 year old blond boy, thin as a rail, an animated live wire who talked a blue streak. A real Mr. Personality, he was as charismatic as a 5 year old could possibly have the right to be.

My first conscious memory of Tommy is the two of us walking in a double line together with our first grade class alongside Our Lady Queen of Peace Church. Because we were partners that day, we had to hold hands, which I thought was kind of cool since I’ve always liked holding hands with cute guys, even back then.

Across the street, I saw the funeral parlor that would be, years later, the place where I’d get my last desperate look at my parents’ faces.

I pointed to Hanley’s Funeral Home and said, “They have dead people there, right?”

“Yeah,” he said, setting me up for a joke. “People are dying to get in there!”

I laughed, thinking he was probably the cleverest person I knew. “Did someone tell you that or did you make that up yourself?”

“No, I just dug it up!”

I’m not sure, but I think it was the first time I’d ever heard a pun. I thought he was brilliant!

The Grown-Up Tommy says, “So, Gloria! What’s going on?”

I tell him about climbing the mountains of China, getting short of breath, thinking I was having a heart attack, feeling sick the whole trip, coming back to the US, going to the emergency room, discovering pulmonary embolisms, and oh, yeah, by the way, there’s a mass on your left lung, and it’s malignant and you’ve got lung cancer, adenocarcinoma stage 3b, crossed the mediastinum. Huh! Never even knew I had a mediastinum to cross!

He tells me about his own battle with cancer and how it finally left him alone after wreaking so much devastation upon him. He negotiated a truce with cancer and all the good parts of his life are still his, and how every day he enjoys everything around him. He is a man of great faith and exudes this confidence that everything will be OK. I believe he knows what he’s talking about. And, of course, I’m inspired.

“I hope we keep in touch, Gloria. I’d like to help you get through this.”

I recount to him my memory of the two of us walking along the street and how he had made me laugh, and how I loved that he was holding my hand.

“And isn’t it so sweet, Tommy, that after all these years, you reach out to me…and you’re still holding my hand.”

Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com

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5 Comments

Filed under Inspirational, My Very Short Stories, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Tommy Vee

  1. Marilyn Montgomery

    I know part of this is true but the rest rings true to me. Is it? Wonderful read.

    Like

  2. Sharon Matchett

    Sweet.

    Like

  3. Jean

    Oh Gloria, That is so beautiful.. a wonderful friend for so many years!
    I am so glad you are home and feeling well enough to share your wonderful talent. Love you!

    Like

  4. Ann

    Gloria! I am so glad you published this story! I loved it when you told it to me!. Your stories are inspiring and you know I love a good pun!

    Like

  5. Sandra J Aidar-McDermott

    Loved it!

    Like

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