Commenting upon my cousin's hair loss (caused by Chemotherapy) with the quip "Who cut your hair? I wouldn't use that hairdresser again." may have seemed to some standing nearby, as a rather heartless thing to say; in fact, Tom thanked me repeatedly.
He was so pleased, because this public banter had not underlined the ills or disabilities of having a brain tumour, and the effects of the treatment in his fast failing battle.
As he said, "It was like a fresh breeze blowing away all the almost constant conversations full of poor you, and words swamped in over sympathetic tones and syllables, that just keep drumming home sad predicament; doing little to lift one's spirit, which is an aspect that most people enjoy, in being alive and participating in Life."
Years later, I am facing each day not knowing where the next painful muscle cramp will turn up, if or when my arm and leg will suddenly start their uncontrollable involuntary jerks and shudders (that debilitate normal mobility and functions), or whether I will be able to hold a teaspoon steady while making a coffee, let alone a camera. So now it is my turn, to wish that things could be a little more normal.
There is little self pity, just the yearning to achieve despite the disabilities to keep me going; seeking the pleasure when a photograph looks good, and the golden warmth when others pay with a compliment upon my creative efforts (hopefully without bias to my predicament in Parkinson's).
Looking at the above photograph thunders home another memory of one of my last conversations with Tom.
His children were tucked up in bed and we were settling down in the sitting room with a drink after a lovely meal; When out of the blue and detached from previous conversations Tom simply asked, “Could you renovate an old house like this on your own” and noting my surprised expression continued, “I mean put in large beams on your own” as he pointed to the very large beam overhead stretching across the ceiling, and taking the weight of the walls and rooms upstairs.
In reply, I said I thought the company I had just started working for probably could before pressing him as to why he had asked the question. Tom swiftly closed the subject stammering “No matter, forget I asked!” And in my ignoring of his tone in voice (that had indicated he would not divulge more information on the subject) Tom firmly demanded that we should talk about other things.
Over twenty years later, glancing over my shoulder and looking up to the ceiling, there are quite a few big fat heavy beams, some seven metres long; that were cut out with a chainsaw (from Oaks felled in our wood) and then planed by hand, before being lifted into place single-handedly using a block and tackle. All of which begs the question. Did Tom have an invisible 'crystal ball'?
Was he actually given a glimpse into a specific point in my then future life, or did his mind just evolve those 'out of the blue' words, to later somehow subconsciously fashion my thinking into undertaking the path that I later followed.
We may never know, though I have to admit, in those days I never dreamt I would ever be living in France trying to renovate a home, let alone creating a Blog!