Earth Day 2006 (April 22) some of Thomas’ ashes were buried near his father in St Joseph’s Cemetery in Clarissa, MN. A reception was held afterward at the family farm in Clotho, MN.
February 3, 2006
I have sat down many times since I received this most wonderful gift and had my transplant. The surgery was very successful, and I am on my way to recovery. Not being able to come up with the prefect thing to say to make your loss any easier, I am just going to say “Thank You.”
I am sure it must have been a hard decision, but then again maybe not. If there were more people like you in this world it would be a better place. Once again Thank You for this precious gift.
I would like to tell you a little bit about my family and me. My name is Richard but I answer to Dick. I am 61 years old, married for 6 1/2 years. I have 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. I am retired from the post office. My wife and I reside in South Dakota.
I was on the transplant list for almost one year, most of that year I don’t remember that was how it went for me. I was in and out of the hospital almost every month and sometimes twice in a month. We were called on the day of our 6th wedding anniversary. I was in the hospital then. Surgery was the next morning early.
If everything goes well I expect to find a part-time job within the next couple of months. I am going to travel and visit my family, when that’s done it will be time to settle down and get on with it.
My wife and family also want to let you know how grateful they are for you sharing with them this precious gift.
Memorial for Thomas Hansmeyer
I met Tomas in Agroecology at the University of Minnesota, winter term (uggh, back in the nineties). It was a bizarre and difficult winter when we got inches of rains on top of packed snow and then it would all flash freeze in –20 degree weather. I remember one of those mornings when I spent hours trying to unstuck my car wheels from the ice and then managed to crawl through the hatchback door to get to school, to Agroecology. Not many folks arrived that morning at class, but he was there. And conspicuously the only one who wasn’t ranting and raving about how badly their car froze and the hell it was to get it unstuck. So I ribbed him – gave him a hard time about being a graduate student with a house and a garage. I remember his mischievous grin. He wasn’t defensive, but understood that I was just hazing him. That grin sold me and I knew I wanted to get to know him better.
Tomas and I started dating shortly thereafter. While Thomas and I were never destined to stay together, I think our friendship came at a good time for both us. We were both trying to get over bad break-ups and we saw someone who could understand us, someone we could be good to and someone who would be good to us. He helped me find an emotional strength that I had never known before. He’s the first one that helped me get over my fears and to love, work hard and still lose love, and know that in the end I would survive. Shit, I didn’t get the chance to tell him that and share that with him. For that gift, he has and will always have a special place in my heart. I really wanted to tell him…
And for my grandfather. I can’t describe the alienation my grandfather felt upon moving from Philadelphia to Minneapolis. But with Tomas, I think my grandfather felt he had someone he could relate to. It was a fun joke between us – Tomas always said he could relate to seniors – but Tomas went beyond that. Whenever my grandfather called him to help him with a project, Tomas was there – even long after we had split up and I had moved away. My parents extend their deepest sympathies and regrets to Tomas’ partner, family and friends. His friendship with my grandfather touched my family deeply.
While we dated, I went to Tomas’ farm by St. Cloud nearly every weekend. It was during this time, that Tomas was finishing roofing the big old barn. I can still see him up on top of the barn, waving his long gangly arms hello sitting astride the roof apex. Imagine: A huge barn (looked three stories tall or more!) sitting on a hot tin roof in the middle of summer in full sun. I was always shouting after him to drink more water and wear sunscreen!
Tomas taught me how to dumpster dive, make chocolate chips cookies with garlic (yum!), make a quick health assessment of the health of the soil, some car repair tips and the value of place. Just letting yourself be where you are at any particular moment.
I swear there wasn’t anything that he couldn’t do. Not only was he good with his head and his hands, but he held storming-good fall parties at his farm house. He was generous with his time and his possessions – he taught me to let go and live. I thought I had already done that, but with him, I realized that I still had a ways to go!
But in all of these accolades, I’m not striking at the heart of what I want to share about Tomas. Our break-up was not a pretty thing, but I resolved not to let it end with us hating each other. I pestered him until he agreed to meet and talk it over. Over the several weeks we worked it out – the misperceptions, the hurt feelings, the fears we didn’t dare speak earlier. He had an emotional strength that one sees so rarely – an ability to move beyond the petty self and find a higher place to co-exist with someone. I wanted us to remain friends – I wanted to remain in that presence. That was a bit naïve, I know now…we were too unalike. But I just didn’t want us to not be angry with each other anymore and to forgive each other as well as ourselves. I think we accomplished this. While we did talk periodically, we no longer hung out and eventually the emails became fewer and fewer as our paths separated.
It was several years ago when I last heard from Tomas. I was living in Oregon and he had mentioned that he was going to a retreat center on the West Coast. There was something about this that I still can’t put my finger on, but it makes me smile.
It’s October 18, 2005 and it still hasn’t hit me that Tomas is no longer… knowing that he was in the world made me feel, well, more comfortable, safer, more at ease.
I am struggling to end this memorial. There is no good ending. There is no finishing touch to this young man’s life. There were supposed to be more paragraphs, more reflections…more. So, to his family and friends I wish to add my memorial. My family and I wish we had learned of his death in order to attend the funeral – to extend our sympathies, our condolences and to let you know in person that he is not a person we let easily go.
Kirsten Saylor, Vibeke Saylor and Thomas Saylor
4114 39th Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Pauline Redmond and her husband Jack Miller officiated Thomas’ Memorial Service. Pauline performed this song a cappella at the service. Words and music by Bob Franke.
REFRAIN: “What can you do with your days but work and hope? Let your dreams bind your work to your play. What can you do with each moment of your life, but love till you’ve loved it away? Love till you’ve loved it away.”
See Extended Entry for the verses.
December 6, 2005, would have been Thomas’ fortieth birthday. If you are interested in gathering to remember him and celebrate his life, please join us on Tuesday, December 6, 2005. We are planning to meet at Fabulous Ferns from about 7p – 10p. Please spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested in being there.
Please bring photos and think about special memories you want to share. AND if you have a suggestion for organizing or compiling people’s memories/stories, please let me know. Thank you.
400 Selby Ave (at Arundel St)
Thomas’ memorial service on September 10, 2005, was recorded by the generous Robert Haarman. The DVD was professionally replicated. I have a couple of spare copies and can also have more made. If you are interested in having a DVD for yourself or would like to borrow a copy to view it, please let me know.
The dawn saw her
sailing a southerly course.
Soft morning light
reflected on her face
gazing out over
Waves lifted the boat
steadied by a wind
in the sails.
An easy motion
to lose your thoughts.
She watched the light
of the sunrise play
on top of the water.
Her eyes taking in
every shape and color
Short gusts of wind
shimmered the light
on the little waves,
giving way to a softer
rounder yellow on older
ushered in a sigh.
As if the sails
lost their wind.
A tear readies
its fall to the water
as a dragonfly lands
on the lifeline wire.
She just received
news of her brother’s
Both her and the
with the wind and waves.
They travelled on
She knows now
his memories will sail
on with her.
She will call on
his smile and laugh,
when the wind blows too strong….
She will remember
his love of people
as she steps ashore
in new lands….
The sound of the hull
through the water
is his long yessss
to his respect for the earth…
She will say goodnight
in the quiet anchorages
as the gentle oval waves
close her eyes….
She watched the
dragonfly take off
in a southerly direction
tacking back and forth,
as if leading the way.
This is the letter mailed to Thomas’ family on September 27, 2005. Thomas’ gift of organ donation gave new life to FIVE people:
“Please accept my heartfelt sympathy on the death of your brother, Thomas. Families such as yours who remain thoughtful of others in the midst of grief give other people a second chance at life.
On behalf of LifeSource and those individuals waiting for transplants, I extend my deepest gratitude. Your brother’s donation celebrates Life: Thomas’s life and the lives of those he has given a second chance. Thank you for honoring his unselfish desire to give life to others.
I hope the following information comforts you as you learn something about those individuals who benefited from your brother’s donation.
This is the Bob Marley song that was played as we exited the chapel on September 10, 2005. We knew we wanted to end with Reggae and Thomas’ roommate Tom McCadden made a special trip that morning to a music store to buy the CD that had this specific song on it.
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind…