Simple human dignity… Focus on character rather than reputation. For your character is who you ARE, your reputation only what others THINK you are.
Humility… never thinking you know it all and always hungry to learn.
Generosity and compassion to everyone in need no matter how tough things may be in your own life.
Kindness even to those who treat you unfairly.
A smile and irrepressible sense of humor even in the face of the cruelest blow one can receive.
Love and joy centered… not self-centered.
A lifelong friend who exemplifies the beauty of WE GO over ego.
My friend Tom is all these things and more. From the moment we met on our first day of junior high school more than 50 years ago we have been dear friends. Tom was my hero all through school… the fastest, strongest, and most athletic of all of us and yet without an ounce of arrogance, selfishness, or conceit. Whenever anyone was around Tom they felt energized, happy, and uplifted. He was always fully present and his presence made you feel that you were important and that he truly cared about you.
And oh could Tom laugh! As I get older I realize more and more how incredibly important it is to laugh each day… to laugh at yourself and with each other. Tom taught me that.
I flew across the country to visit my friend last week. I HAD to see him. You see, my friend Tom has been stricken with a rare and cruel disease called MSA. His autonomic nervous system is shutting down and his strength, energy, voice, and life force are fading away. My big, strong, joyful friend now needs help to make it through each day.
I spent an unforgettable day with him. We laughed through most of our time together. As I was getting ready to leave I hugged him tight and told him how much he has meant to my life, how he has and always will be my hero. I’ll treasure the memory of him receiving my love fully and saying simply, “Oh Brian.” And then we cried together for a moment.
Tom is surrounded by friends and family who love him dearly. The man who always thought about what he could GIVE others… never about what he would GET, is now learning to receive. In true Tom fashion he does this gracefully and simply. And all those who help care for him feel blessed by the chance to let him know how much he’s appreciated and admired.
I needed to tell you about Tom today because he reminded me that right now we need to hear about REAL heroes… more than ever! I’m not talking about Marvel super-heroes in capes and masks or public figures driven by ego and obsessed with being in the spotlight.
I’m talking about REAL heroes. People who understand that the love we fail to share is the only pain we live with. So they choose to be loving no matter what. People who will do more for others than they’ll do for themselves. People who are like angels among us. They seem to have wings because they take themselves lightly. People who have learned that REAL wealth is not measured by your bank account but rather by the friends you’ve made and the impact you’ve had on others. Heroes like Tom.
Tom has taught me that we have a choice every single day to live our lives the way he has. He has made the most of every precious moment. We can do no better than that. I hope his shining example inspires you to do the same. Please hold my friend Tom in your heart today. You’ll be better for it.