Thomas was a student of the world and also a wonderful teacher. Over the years, I learned so much from him. I learned about yoga, patience, gardening, music, all sorts of things. He always talked about life being circles, everything was a circle. I find it beautifully fulfilling that he did live his life with so many circles of friends, families, neighborhoods, churches, classes, communities. His funeral was such a beautiful expression of his lifestyle. Every person there seemed hungry to know more about Thomas’ other circles, to connect with his vast networks of friends and family.
I met Thomas at First Avenue Night Club through a mutuial friend Jay. I was struck by his gentle demeanor and kind heart. I hoped he might want to work for the company I work for (Hammer Residences) serving people with developmental disabilities, but the group homes were too far west in the twin cities to be a realistice commute choice for him. I knew he was the kind of person who could embrace the difficult work of serving vulnerable adults. We became fast friends, and so he entered into my circle of friends, many whom also work in group homes.
One weekday in the fall of 2003, he came to my house in Robbinsdale early in the morning. We loaded up my canoe and gear so he could teach me how to collect wild rice. I had never collected rice before, but Thomas knew that my canoe was perfect for this because it was so flat on the bottom, not tippy at all. I had talked to him about wanting to learn how ricing was done. He knew a great little Rice Lake by 169 and CR 68. We collected a nice harvest that day. He wanted me to meet his wild ricer friend whose A framed house is up by Mille Lac Lake, but he was not home that day.
When I purchased my house in Champlin, Thomas encouraged me to put in a vegetable garden. I ordered a truckload of dirt, and when it came, the quality of it was poor, full of rocks and broken glass, not a single earthworm in it. Thomas was calm and soothing to me when I called and told him what I had bought, he stating he would teach me the “joy of composting.” With that, I learned about amending soil with old food, coffee grounds, cardboard, duck doo, pulled weeds, all the things that I now recycle from my kitchen and yard that improve my soil. Use everything, waste nothing.
I could include 100 more stories, we had so many wonderfully fun times together. Halloweens in North Minneapolis, road trip to Duluth, Hammer’s holiday party, Lucy’s rocking chair, midnight mass at Saint Mary’s, Toots and the Maytols, Moscow on the Hill, using two for one coupons. I am grateful for all the joyful times we had together, and I will deeply miss my dear friend.