Tommy is 40. How did it go by so fast?
My bro, Tommy Hickman celebrated his 40th Birthday today. In actuality, he has been celebrating it since June 1st. Each day, we looked at the calendar, factored in other less important birthdays, like everyone else’s, and got more excited as we grew closer.
We got ready by getting an actually good haircut, and being extremely good over the last two weeks.
I procrastinated as usual on the presents, since what I thought he would love is currently way out of my fundage, and because I never really know what will excite him and surprise me greatly and sweetly.
So, the night has come. The 40th Birthday party at my Brother Joe’s house.
And it hit me. And it hit me hard.
Born in 1970, as a C-section and with multiple problems, he was welcomed into the world as (THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU By Carpenters was playing on my mother’s radio as she woke up after childbirth. I took that as a special sign that we would need to hold him close to ourselves forever.
As he grew up, he was an amazingly happy child despite the numerous operations, the seizures and pains, the eye problems, and the motor disabilities. One thing he excelled at was conversation. Not talking, which would always come with an impediment. Actual conversation, one that he would draw you into and keep you engaged throughout.
I’ve had many of these over the years. We’ve talked his love of Hockey and Gene Hart, the Voice of the Flyers and of his daughter, the wonderful Lauren Hart. We’ve talked his love of baseball, the never equaled team of Harry the K and Whitey. We’ve talked his love of football, with Merrill Reese.
Do you see the thread running here? While he loved the teams and knew the players, he connected with the voices who talked with him during the game, who engaged him in a conversation. For that is who he is, a person who will talk with you to earn your friendship, and then be your best friend forever.
And these conversations were amazingly detailed and will leave you wanting for more.
His other love is music, and especially Barry Manilow. As a matter of fact, his language skills were taught to him by utilizing recordings of Manilow and Gene Hart.
He loves a lot of other music, all over the map, except for one song; He cannot listen to WITHOUT YOU by Harry Nilsson. The song tears his heart out as he remembers favorites who have died.
And then there is Kelly Ripa. Again, she talks with him every morning as she talks with the audience. Something about her, her humor, her attitude, her ability to make Tommy care and watch is remarkable. He has met her a handful of times, and each time, it is as easy and natural as if they just saw each other yesterday.
So, he is 40, and as well rounded as he can be. Which makes me jealous. His focus is my desire. I mope and worry about being out of work and what my lung problem may or may not do. I worry about money, I worry about time, I miss old friends and hope to hold onto new friends. I worry about family, I worry about what comes next. I worry, I worry, I worry.
Maybe I just need to have a conversation with that fine 40 year old man, my brother Tommy. It seems to help everyone else.