I tried to approach this post from a literary perspective–I tried to weave in all the literary Toms–Sawyer, Riddle, and Robinson–that made an impact on me. It was a little trite. I’ve bonded with these characters (yes, even Voldemort), but our relationship exists on a page. They don’t really compare to my first and preeminent Tom. Such comparisons were hollow and ineffective because Tom Sawyer didn’t dig a grave for my lizards, Hercermer and Cheerioh. Tom Robinson (from To Kill A Mockingbird, trust me, it was confusing for me to disassociate when I first read that book in sixth grade), didn’t hold me for hours while I sobbed when our childhood dog passed away. And Tom Riddle certainly didn’t help me through bleary eyes, rinse Hufflepuff’s habitat out when it was her turn to go.
My relationship with the First and Most Preeminent Tom didn’t begin at Page 1, it began at Minute 0. I’m not sure how he orchestrated it, but my dad was the one that caught me in the delivery room when I was born. I imagine that he did his gentle strong arm with the doctor, which he sometimes does when he knows what he wants, and then rolled up his sleeves and played doctor for the day. I know my dad has a special, egalitarian relationship with all of his children, but I’m the only one he caught.
This metaphor keeps coming back to me, probably because I’m having a hard year and I’m finding myself in need of being “caught” embarrassingly often. I have a dad that keeps catching me, keeps scooping me up from the hard times and solves all my problems by sitting next to me on the couch and watching So You Think You Can Dance.
The First and Most Preeminent Tom keeps Chips Ahoy in his desk drawer. The First and Most Preeminent Tom took me searching for bear caves as a child, and is the sole owner and author of “Bear and Skunk” nighttime tales. The First and Most Preeminent Tom ordered Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures video tape off an informercial for his animal-obsessed eight-year-old daughter. The First and Most Preeminent Tom took advantage of a time that I had the flu and was stuck on a couch for two days to repaint my room purple with sponge-painted stars.The First and Most Preeminent Tom studied a quarter and turned it into a ring that I wear every day of my life. To this day, he stays up late when Jeremy and I roadtrip to Colorado and warms up a plate of leftovers for us no matter what time we get in.
The First and Most Preeminent Tom is my father that I dearly, dearly love. He doesn’t douse you with words, he just gives a good belly laugh at Everybody Loves Raymond, and everything feels better. He contributed 2/3 of my love of animals, 4/4 of my genetically perfect hair, and 1/2 half of my giant heart.
I love this motorcycle-riding, garden-weeding, cookie-eating father of mine.
Happy Father’s Day to the man that caught me (and catches me again and again and again.)