Thursday, March 3, 2011


This is Tompa. He's one cool jazzy cat whom we're privileged to call Grandfather. Okay, okay, we don't actually call him Grandfather, we just call him Tompa. His given name is Tom, but he was way too cool to go by Grandpa when his first grandson was born, thus, the title Tompa came about (Tom + the pa from Grandpa). A decade or so ago, I think before we had produced any great-grand off spring for Tompa, he tried to convince us to call him TH (his initials), like all his friends do. I think he thought he was too cool for the name Tompa now that us "kids"were all grown up, but we resisted. Actually I think I threw a fit and said "NO WAY! You'll always be our Tompa." Pretty gutsy considering I'm related only through marriage! But Tompa doesn't care, he just laughed at me. He goes with the flow.

Tompa has a quiet confidence about him. I'm forever wondering what he's thinking (mostly what he thinks about us and our sometimes crazy life choices). He usually never does come right out and say what he's thinking, even when I ask him, but what he does say always calls for thought and reflection. If he's talking, you better listen! He's an incredibly talented musician, composing and arranging music, and still performing gigs on his saxophone with his jazz band on a regular basis. He's a phenomenal cook! One year for Mother's day he made the whole family beef bourguignon. My mouth still waters when I think about it! I asked for the recipe recently since I've boned up my cooking skills lately, but the recipe is way out of my league, as in greek to me! Tompa's also a worrier, although he hides it well. I hear he paces the floor at night sometimes, worried about his family, because he loves us so. Tompa is generous beyond words, kind, and funny. I love to hear his laugh. It's loud and boisterous, from the gut. His laugh makes me laugh.

Once, when Ben and I were engaged, I went to dinner with his family. It was kind of the first family dinner I attended where I was an official part of the family, rather than just some ol' girlfriend. So, with my new found engagement status, I went to hug and kiss everyone in the family when we left, as is customary in my family. Ben's family is considerably less affectionate than mine (although I've broken them in over the years) and Tompa didn't know how to react. I thought he was going to die. He was stiff, and seemed uncomfortable. I felt dumb and awkward, worried I'd overstepped my bounds. Shortly after Ben and I got married my sister-in-law Mandi joined the family. As a word of advice before she me the whole fam, I told her "Tompa's not a hugger." She headed my counsel and about fell off her chair when Tompa went in for a big squeeze at the first introduction. Pretty funny!

Last week when we stopped by Mimmie and Tompa's after Eli's birthday outing, I asked Tompa if I could snap a picture of him in his backyard. This is the house he grew up in, the house I've always known him in, the home we all love to visit. He wasn't thrilled at my idea but obliged anyway. He grabbed his cute hat and posed just how I told him to with a little "You're mother is crazy." to Eli under his breath. Well we all know I'm crazy, but I want to forever remember Tompa and his backyard. It's a beautiful yard, huge for the city. Over the years Tompa has collected a little "glass menagerie" on the deck. I think it started from the stuffed barn owl that overlooks the yard from the garage window. A long time ago that very owl flew into the yard and hung itself on the clothes line, so Tompa's mother, I believe, had him stuffed and now he's forever perched in the window of the garage, a mascot if you will, of Mimmie and Tompa's home. Now there are lots of little critters adorning the yard. I think we've even helped contribute to the collection a little on a Christmas here and there. The rusty old music stand from the local musicians union pulls the whole yard scape together.

So this is Tompa. My Tompa. Our Tompa. How I'll always remember him . . . not that he's dying or anything! Just a quick memory, before details fade over time. I sure love this guy! He's the best. We're blessed to have him in our lives.


Corinne P. said...

Amazing tribute and memories. I think it's great to do - especially while we can still recall all the things we want to. What a great guy I have to say!

Stephanie said...

That is such a nice post, Danelle! I remember you guys talking about Tompa when we were in HI.