Monday, September 3, 2012

A Life Well Lived

Peach and I were at our parents' house when my mom pulled down a box from the top shelf of the hall closet. "Oh, I know what this is," she exclaimed. "These are the cards and letters from when we lost Tom!"

Tom was my brother, just a year and ten days older than I. He was a remarkable kid, happy and well adjusted, the kind of person everybody loves. He was talented, funny, helpful, and gracious. (I could say so much more but I already did in this blog post.)

On August 9, 1967, the day after his 18th birthday, Tom was driving to work when he lost control of his car and rolled it. He died instantly. His death affected not just our family but the entire community. For days our house was full of people -- family, friends from church, neighbors and Tom's classmates. Many didn't know what to do or say, but they told us that they just had to come. We received dozens and dozens of cards and letters, and in Mom's box I counted 68 florist cards that had come with the plants and floral arrangements that were delivered.

The cards and letters were from people we knew and people we didn't know. Many told of a specific experience they had had with Tom, or a character quality they especially admired in him. John Brown, our orchestra teacher, wrote: Thank you for raising a son like Tom, and thank God that I was fortunate enough to know him. A pure and honest spirit is the most beautiful thing in the world, because it makes those who see it themselves more pure and honest. I and the many others who loved Tom must always be grateful for what he gave to us -- he made us better for having known him. I pray that through his memory the goodness he inspired will continue to grow. His life was not in vain. God bless all of you. 

It was the love of Christ in Tom that made him so winsome, so "pure and honest." When he was just three or four years old he opened his heart to the Lord and invited Jesus into his life. In sweet child faith he put his trust in Him and lived to please Jesus through all his growing up years. He wasn't perfect -- no angel or secret agent sent from Heaven to show us how to live. He was a kid, a boy who took the Lord at His word and depended upon Him for guidance, peace, and joy. His hope was in the Lord.

I miss Tom tremendously, but I know that He is in the presence of Jesus because he trusted in Him. And I know that I will be with him again because I too have placed my trust in Christ.

Listen to the words of Jesus, recorded in John 10:10 of the New Testament (taken from The Message), "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better than they ever dreamed of." That's the kind of life Tom had through his short life. And that's the kind of life he now experiences -- eternal life, better than he ever dreamed of. It's what Jesus offers to all who believe in Him!


Rachelle said...

Ginger, thank you so much for sharing this story. My mom's sister died at the age of 29 from breast cancer. She said they never really talked about it. I was cleaning my grandma's attic right before she passed away and found the Christmas newsletter that announced that Judy had passed away. I think that was the only time they talked about it. Must have been so hard to lose a sibling...but, how wonderful to know that they are with the Lord and that you will get to see your brother again one day and my mom will get to see her sister (and I will get to meet her!).

Joan Husby said...

I saw Tom's memorial in the paper the other day and the memories of that special young man and your whole family came flooding back. I was standing with the church family outside the door after the evening service, when the news first reached your parents. I can never forget your mom's words, "Thank you, Lord, for the 18 years we had with Tom." Later, at his home going celebration, there was such an atmosphere of rejoicing in a life well-lived.

Adam Stevens said...

I had no idea. Our family had a very similar experience when I was in grade school. It is a testament to a community to see how they come around a family in a time of need.

Ginger Kauffman said...

Thank you, Rachelle, Joan and Adam, for your comments. I'm grateful for the community - especially the community of faith - and the hope of Heaven. I just ran into a friend from my youth who told me that Tom's death had an impact on his life that he hasn't forgotten. God can take the really hard stuff and bring much good from it.

Jane Bilbro said...

I can never forget the day Tom was killed. I was working at Cedargreens plant also. I was a pea truck driver. Some of us were sitting in a truck waiting to go out to the field when a boy said "Did you hear that Tom was killed on the way to work?" I said "NO, not Tommy Fosket! I was stunned almost as if it were my son Tom. I ran into the office and called our friend Betty and told her. My Tom's birthday is August 10, and I always think of our other Tom on that day. He truly was everything Ginger has described and he had such a beautiful voice. His grand dad used to take Tom to revival services with him to sing. We will all be so glad to see him again in Heaven.

Ginger Kauffman said...

Jane, I didn't remember that you worked at the same cannery he did, nor did I know that your son's birthday was so close to my brother's. It was a long time ago, but it still seems fresh. Life is bittersweet, isn't it. I really appreciate you taking the time to share this comment.