Linda Vouk Midas, Sauk Rapids
God gave us our new baby boy, Tom, on a hot, muggy day in July. And as long as he had his thumb and blankie, he was happy. But it wasn’t long before this contented infant began to show a tendency toward mischief.
He couldn’t have been much more than 3 when his grandpa’s jackknife went missing. For days we searched, but it was nowhere to be found. Then one morning when Tom and Grandpa were in the barnyard by the stock tank, Tom began digging in the dirt. Soon he produced the prized knife — right where he had buried it. If dogs could bury bones, why couldn’t a boy bury a knife?
When we went to our first kindergarten conference, Mrs. Christensen pulled out a shoe box full of matchbox cars. “Do you recognize these?” she asked.
With five kids at home, I sure wasn’t keeping track.
Fidgety Tom would entertain himself with one of his tiny cars until the teacher spotted the contraband and took it away. With an almost endless supply of tiny cars at home, who knows how long this might have gone on?
Mr. McNeal, Tom’s creative fifth-grade teacher, sent Tom home with an unusual request: “Can you sew a witch’s dress for me?”
My Tom in a dress? But I made the dress and hat, and he carried an old kettle with some cow bones he had found in the woods. He was the star in the Halloween play, and I was so proud.
Growing up on the farm, Tom learned to work hard: shocking oats, baling hay, cutting and stacking wood, picking rocks from the fields, milking, mowing the lawn and cleaning the barn.
His behavior improved in high school, but after religion class he slipped into the bathroom and flushed a roll of toilet paper down the toilet. Needless to say, this created a flood. We told Tom he would have to pay the plumber’s bill, but Father Voigt didn’t accept it.
At age 21 he married Lisa, and they had two boys, Nick and Jake. He was an awesome dad, taking his boys fishing in both winter and summer. He was his sons’ biggest fan, whether it was in wrestling, baseball or football.
Unfortunately, at age 35 his fun came to an end. Tom threw himself a birthday party and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning talking with friends. After a weekend filled with activities and celebrating a little too much, he went home, pulled into the garage, plunked an 8-track into his car stereo, and, enjoying the air conditioning in his comfortable car, he nodded off, never to wake again.
Aunt Leanne had told us when someone goes to Heaven, you’ll begin to find pennies sent by your loved one to let you know he arrived safely. We began to find pennies in the most unusual places — on the closet floor, on the road, on the kitchen floor.
But it only works if you believe.