My Imaginary Friend, Tommy Wizzims

I told this story to some of the volunteers at the St. Thomas the Apostle Breakfast Club where we were feeding the homeless this morning.  Someone was saying she fell in love with a teenage boy when she was three.  I had to tell her about Tommy Wizzims.

Here is that story written a while back, but it’s just as meaningful to me today as the day I wrote it back in 2012.

***

Today I was cleaning out a closet and I found a big envelope of clippings and pictures from my mother’s house, which I received after she died. I unfolded a newspaper and saw that I was looking at the obituary page. At first, I wondered why Mom had saved this paper, then my eyes focused on the face of a man who looked familiar. I looked at the name and it read, Tom Williams.

Tom Williams! Oh, goodness.

When I was a little girl, no older than three, Tom Williams lived two blocks away from our house on 13th Street. I thought he was the handsomest boy I had ever seen – and I added an imaginary friend to my life (along with another named Heidi). That “friend’s” name was Tommy Wizzims.

Tom Williams was my older brother’s friend so he was around our house a lot. He must have been nice to me because even now thinking about him I feel a warm feeling in my heart. He must have also known that I had an imaginary friend with his very own name, pronounced only in the way a three-year-old can. I can’t help but think that must have brought a smile to his face.

I read in his obituary that he died in a car accident when he was 58. He had been married, had four kids, and at the time of his death had a woman in his life, who had been his “companion” for several years. He ran a nursing home, and the obituary said that the residents’ faces would “light up” when Tom came into the room.

My eyes filled with tears. That’s just how I felt when I saw him when I was a little girl. Happy. Pure and simple.

I didn’t know that Tom Williams had died. I felt sad that his life was prematurely cut short. I thought about my little imaginary playmates, Tommy and Heidi, and how my mother indulged me by setting places for them at the table. Mom told me once that I would pull on her sleeve and say, “But they’re hungry!”

The kindness of one person can have a wide impact. It sounds as if that was the case with my Tommy Wizzims.

What a strange item to find today in my clean-up efforts. But it reminded me of one teenage boy who took the time to be kind to a little girl.  What a lovely person he must have been.

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13 thoughts on “My Imaginary Friend, Tommy Wizzims”

  1. I would like to thank you for writing this. Tom was my father and it is always wonderful to hear new stories about him. He was a very special man. My Uncle Vic directed me to your post and it absolutely made my day. I forwarded it on to my brothers and sister. Again thank you for your heartfelt words!

  2. Hi Len. Thank you so much for writing this beautiful tribute to Tom. You may or may not remember me, but Tom and I were sweethearts from 6th grade all through school. We married and had two children, Kim and Kelly. Although the marriage didn’t work out, we remained friends, and as my first love and the father of my children, Tom always held a very special place in my heart. April shared your story with Kim and Kelly, who in turn, shared it with me. Thank you again for your kind words.

    1. Jana, I sent you a reply on my phone, but I don’t see it on here. Let me just say that I remember you well and I remember you and Tom as sweethearts. I am younger, but was very aware of my older brothers’ friends.

      I am happy that my memory warmed your heart. Tom certainly warmed mine with his kindness.

      Len.

  3. Thank you for sharing your sweet memories about our dad. It was a special moment for me to watch the expressions on his residents faces as he came down the hallway. He greeted each one of them with a big grin. I watched them exchange looks and laughs, and touches. They trusted him, and well, the ladies adored him. He was after all, handsome and charming. The men would ask about his race car. It was on a trailer in the parking lot, so he would have something to tinker with on his breaks. I just laughed out loud, through tears. He was so funny, so different, so special. I loved him even more after that day. I witnessed his humanity, and it was a sight to see!

    1. Dear Kim,

      Thanks so much for giving me even a clearer picture of your dad as an adult. He sounds like he was as nice a man as he was a teenager to me. Thanks, too, for letting me know my memory was meaningful to you and your family. Len

  4. Len — Thank you for your beautiful tribute to Tom. Tom’s second marriage was to my sister, Lisa Walker; and I was so glad that Vic found your tribute. As you can tell from the previous posts, Vic forwarded it on to my niece, April, and her brother, Clint. They loved their dad dearly; and your tribute reaffirmed how much Tom was loved by others. Thank you again.

    1. Dear Pam, I am happy to hear from you. I am also so touched by the reaction from Tom’s family. I had no thought of that when I wrote my piece. I was simply writing from my heartfelt experience with a very kind boy. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. It means a lot to me!

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