The Tommy

My travels with Tommy, by The Raven

In my hometown of Missoula, Montana, in the spring of the year 2000, at the age of 41 and for reasons not relevant to this page, I put my belongings in storage and became a homeless man.  In July of that summer, along the banks of the Clark Fork River, I met Tommy Galyean.  Tommy drew pictures.  He made his living on the footbridge that spans the Clark Fork between the University of Montana and the Eastgate shopping center, drawing pictures and selling them to passing students for his beer and tobacco money.  I made mine doing odd jobs and daily labor, and when I had a few dollars to spare I would buy a picture from Tommy.  Over the next few months we developed a fine friendship, and camped near each other on Jacob's Island.

Tommy was a brilliantly talented artist who simply chose a different lifestyle than most others.  These are pictures that Tommy drew for me during that first summer:

In September of that year I got a housesitting job in a lodge in the mountains outside Frenchtown.  The lodge owner told me that if I knew someone else who was trustworthy that I could invite him to stay there also, and I suggested we talk to Tommy.  We did, and the lodge owner liked him and extended the offer, but Tommy declined.  Besides being near the university where so many students knew him and bought his pictures, he preferred to live outdoors.  Tommy had lived on Jacob's Island for four years, through thick and thin, cold and heat, and stuck out the most bitter winter nights after all the other tramps had hitchhiked off to Arizona.

Tommy is well-known, well-respected, and well-loved in that neighborhood.  He did not steal or even panhandle.  He worked.  He worked on the drawings that brought him all his necessities.  Fourth-year students who had come to that university as freshmen knew Tommy as a fixture on the footbridge their entire collegiate lives.

Tommy had as many friends as anyone else in that town.  One new friend in particular stands out to me, though, because the small note she wrote to Tommy on his birthday in 2000 meant so much to him that he carried it with him the rest of his days, and would get it out and unfold it, battered and weathered, and show it to new friends or just read it again to himself.  This is the text of that note:

Happy Birthday Tommy

His name is Tommy and up until a week ago I was oblivious to his existence, but I would soon meet the coolest human chameleon of my life. By human chameleon I mean an artist of life, one who can take energy from the environment around him and manifest pure creative talent. I met Tommy by the river hidden away in a small dirt cove in the calm, crisp night air. A ripening half moon hung in the sky as we descended into the woods lining the riverbank. Tommy was perched on his throne of cloth, drinking a beer, and grinning when we appeared from the darkness. My friend Jeremy greeted him by name and instantly the warmth of his character filled the circle of friends. Four of us sat on the soft ground, each in view and content with the story-telling session that was being born in the starry night.
Tommy told of adventures he had had with police officers trying to arrest him for being a bum, motorcycle trips across the country in his younger years, and the little mouse that would late at night sneak into his duffel bag and steal huge sections of toilet paper for his winter nest. After about fifteen minutes with this man I was full of love for life and happy to be sharing it with the souls of these four: Jeremy, Tommy, and Jesse, the quiet observer. Tommy said he loved to write, as a matter of fact he liked to write more than to draw. Having seen one of his pictures I was amazed, an artist that inspired who loved to write even more.
I imagined his style of poetry as twisted, melting words strung together like light beams on a shining afternoon. Suddenly, as if inspiration had struck, Tommy pulled out an unlined spiral sketchpad. Opening it to his most recent work of art, he handed the pad to me, and said he had yet to finish it. I gazed down at the black ink that lay in spiraling flowing patterns on its white background. I saw a heron's head, or perhaps that of a peacock's. I then handed the drawing pad to Jeremy, who instantly knew what it was meant to be, "It's a tree slug,"' he announced proudly. Tommy's face lit up like a child's when a firework explodes with color and noise. "Exactly!" sprang off of his tongue and zipped past my heron head bursting the potential of that particular fate. "This is just a tree slug, ah yes, today in Philosophy one-oh-one we are going to discuss the nature of tree slugs." Tommy's smile widened, as he began to delve into the beauty of tree slugs and how overlooked they can be as a consciousness. He stated that his tribute to tree slugs was going to be "the ultimate tree slug picture". After a few great laughs it was time to go home to the dorms, bidding Tommy a warm goodnight under the stars, we reappeared into human civilization.
The next day Jeremy and I ventured back to the cove to greet our creative friend, and again he was perched happily on his duffel bag throne, beer at his feet. This time, however, he had his back to us, head down in concentration. When Jeremy greeted him he put his sketchpad away and turned toward us gleefully. Three trees radiated from behind him and caressed the sky, their brilliant yellow leaves contrasting the creamy blue heavens. Tommy's eyes shone like the crystal sky itself, his laugh jolly and pure. Tommy pulled out his finished portrait of the "Ultimate Tree Slug Picture" it was breathtaking. The colors matched perfectly to those of the landscape. The brilliant yellow of the leaves matched the leaves on the tree in which the slug was crawling, the blue was faded to dark night sky, and the moon as deep as that of the night before, other colors, too, swirled around the beautiful tree slug.
I handed the picture to Jeremy then swept our surroundings with a concentrated glance. I saw the colorful pencil shavings scattered around Tommy, and beautiful strong trees. Behind Jeremy and I were five or six beaver attacked trees whose bodies had been hauled off to make a home. These trees, however, had not given up in their quest for life; they merely grew new thick branches that compensated for the loss of their trunks. I was reminded of Tommy; although, through the eyes of society he has nothing, his life pointless and pathetic, Tommy has much more than most people could imagine. His will to survive has given him experience after experience and taught his intellect to balance with his instinct birthing creativity and love that shines from the heart. Tommy is a very cool person, he loves, laughs, story-tells, and teaches any who cross his path with a light heart and an open mind, a genuine human being.

Alana Bliss

This is a single sheet newsletter that one of the students put together for Tommy to hand out on the footbridge:

When a severe cold snap was forecast in December, I went and invited Tommy to come and stay at the lodge for at least a few days, and he accepted.  By now I had gotten my things out of storage and this was the first opportunity I ever had to take his picture.  These pictures are from December 3, 2000:




As soon as he finished it, I bought the picture he was working on in the photos above:


"We're takin' a survey.  How do you FEEL?!!!"
- Tommy

Tommy came to stay at the lodge several times that winter but always left as soon as the thermometer climbed a few degrees.  While he was there, the lodge owner and I would buy his pictures as fast as he could finish them, which kept him in beer and tobacco money since he was so far from the footbridge and the students.  But he gave me this next picture during one of his stays, and it's among my favorites of all of Tommy's work because it's the first self-portrait he did for me, it looks so much like him right down to the floppy hat he wore the summer we met, it's the first of only two times I saw him write a poem in one of his drawings, and perhaps most meaningful of all, it's the only time I ever saw him incorporate humor into his art.  As he handed it to me, he said "That's me.  What I lack in grace and style, I make up for in denial!" I laughed out loud, and replied "If you'd have asked me to write the caption, I'd have said 'A reputation like mine isn't made overnight!'"... Well, that cracked him up in return, and we both stood there laughing and enjoying the moment.  A very fond memory indeed.

Looking back three years later, the humor to me now is ironic because the truth is just the opposite of what the caption says.  Tommy had a great deal of grace and style, and not a shred of denial.

This is another picture I bought from him while he was at the lodge:

These two photos were taken December 23, 2000.  In the background some of Tommy's drawings can be seen, already framed and put on display by the lodge owner:


Tommy enjoyed some very productive artistic periods while staying at the lodge.  The group of 21 drawings that follow are not mine; they belonged to the lodge owner, and I'm grateful that he kindly allowed me to scan them before I left.  Several of Tommy's drawings on this page can be clicked to see the full size 300 dpi enlargement, so to get an idea of the exquisite detail in many of his works, note that the first picture in this group is less than two inches wide:

The winter passed and through the following spring and summer, 2001, I stayed at the lodge but made frequent trips to town to find Tommy and take him to lunch or just sit in the woods on Jacob's Island and shoot the breeze.  By the time my housesitting job ended in August, Tommy had gone to Kansas to stay with his brother for a while, and I put my things back in storage and went to another town to look for work.

In October I went back to Missoula and invited Tommy to come camping for a weekend up the Blackfoot River north of Bonner, and he accepted.  He was carrying these two pictures that he had drawn but not yet sold on the footbridge, and offered them to me for a pair of Japanese theme bandannas I had had for years and which he had been admiring since our early days back on the Clark Fork.  We traded.  Tommy very seldom added words to his drawings, but the mood had struck.  These two drawings represent the only time I ever saw him write so much text on one of his pictures, and only the second time I ever saw him write a poem on one.  Behold these gorgeous works of art:

We had a great time on the Blackfoot, and Tommy wore those bandannas, usually tied to his belt loops but always tied somewhere visible on his clothing, from then on.  Glimpses of them can be seen in several pictures below, most noticeably the white and red one draped across his knee at the coal train camp.

By late December I had saved up enough to buy an old pickup complete with a topper shell, and by 9 o'clock that evening I was back in Missoula looking for Tommy.  By 11 o'clock I had found him.  I suggested we rustle up some supplies and head for the hills, and just take a break from the city.  He liked the idea and we did just that.

We busted ass for a week, then spent our earnings on gear and grub and headed up the Continental Divide outside Butte on December 28th, 2001.  We chained up the truck and on the Homestake road, about halfway to Delmoe, we found a spot we liked.  There was already a fire pit about a foot deep and six feet across, with a smaller deeper fire pit inside it.  There was also about eighteen inches of snow on the ground, so while Tommy went to drag in the first few chunks of firewood I got out the shovel and cleared the entire pit down to bare dirt.  Within an hour of arriving we had a raging fire going and a hot meal cooking and proceeded to set up camp.  Tommy worked like a horse for the next two days, dragging in logs as fast as I could nibble them down to firewood with my bow saw.

As I sawed the wood, pieces of dry bark fell off, and I noticed the spiderlike patterns on the inside of some pieces, fine channels that had been dug out by some sort of tree parasite.  I called to Tommy and showed one to him and his eyes lit up with the artistic possibilities.  He drew me a picture inside one, and gathered up a couple dozen more nice pieces to work on later.  He never got around to it, though; they rode around in the back end of the pickup until they were broken and useless and we eventually threw them out.  The one that he did do I put up on the dashboard where I could always see it, but it got a lot of sun and wind and the occasional coffee splash and now, I'm sad to say, it has faded so badly that only a few traces of the original artwork are visible.  This is the image I got from laying it on the scanner:

I always took meticulous care of Tommy's artwork drawn on paper, but this piece of bark I somehow took for granted and let it suffer the slings and arrows right along with me and Tommy... ah well.  As I write this, it's indoors and retired from dashboard duty now and forever.  Faded but unbroken, I cherish it and the memories it evokes.

By the night of the 30th we had enough firewood cut and stacked that we could take New Year's Eve and New Year's Day completely off from work, and we did.  We read books, Tommy told his stories and I told mine, his over cold beer and mine over hot tea, and we hiked and explored the surrounding woods.  We ate fried potatoes and cheese and scrambled eggs and salsa and felt like the kings of the continent.  We would always refer back to this as our "Continental Divide" camp.

Tommy drew this picture for me on that New Year's Eve:

By January 4th our supplies had run low so we headed back down the mountain.  The day after I bought the truck I had started a journal, which I kept faithfully my whole time on the road from then on, and to which I've referred extensively while writing this page.  I wish I had some pictures from the Continental Divide camp to add here, but my camera was in storage at that time and the only pictures that remain are in my memory.  They are many and vivid.

On January 11th we were at a rest stop off I-90 between Drummond and Missoula when a photographer approached Tommy and offered him five dollars if he could take his picture.  Tommy agreed, and afterward the photographer gave him this polaroid proof.  Tommy gave it to me and I added it to the journal:

"You know, the people that built this country, that found the passes through the Rockies, that panned for gold, that crossed the rivers, that built the bridges, that laid down the railroads, that drew the maps, the explorers... all these people that made this country great and strong, lived outside.  They carried a bedroll and a tarp on horseback.  At night they made camp and slept on the ground.  That's all I want to do, live outside and sleep on the ground, but they won't let me.  Either I'm a trespasser on private property, or a vagrant on public property; either way, I've got the cops on my ass twenty four seven.  Where does a man like me, who just wants to live outside, have to go?"
- Tommy

On January 20th we went to visit my mother.  We spent the night there, and the next day Tommy wanted to draw her a picture and asked me what she liked.  I said "owls" and he spent all day drawing this picture for her.  It's still framed on the wall of her home:

To get to a warmer climate and earn a few dollars at the same time, we accepted an offer to do a big yardwork job for my brother in southern Utah.  We headed south, but not before stopping by the storage shed and grabbing my camera.  This photo was taken in the back yard of my brother's house in Moab, Utah on January 27, 2002:

While in Moab we declined my brother's offer to stay at his place and instead headed across the river to the Potash Road to camp each night.  Along that road is a row of sheer vertical walls that climbers from all over the world come to challenge.  They call it "Wall Street" and the first couple nights in Moab we stayed there, in the pickup, along the base of the walls.  After a few days we went to the end of the road to a campground owned by the nearby potash mining company.  Tommy and I would come to refer to this as our "one point six" camp, because it's 1.6 miles past the end of the blacktop, right smack on the Colorado River, and Tommy loved nothing more than a river.

Tommy started this drawing at my brother's house the evening of the 28th, but he was already pretty drunk when he began, and before long he was too drunk to finish it.  I tucked it in his tablet when I gathered up his things and walked him out to the truck to head for camp, and the next day I encouraged him to resume it, but he refused.  He simply had no interest in doing any more with it.  He was going to destroy it but I talked him out of it:

On January 30th we found ourselves in Grand Junction, Colorado, and went to look up my childhood home on B 1/2 road.  Tommy mentioned that he had lived on B 1/4 road as a child, and had gone to Lincoln Orchard Mesa elementary school.  This was the same school I attended...  we met on a riverbank in Montana in our early forties, and had known each other for a year and a half at this point, yet despite all the time we had spent together and all the talking we had done about our pasts, it was only on this day that we discovered that as children, more than thirty years ago and a thousand miles away from where we met, we had lived within a mile of each other and had gone to the same school at the same time.


That same evening we went to visit Tommy's grandmother, still at the old family home on B 1/4 road.  It was there that these next two pictures, and the portrait at the top of this website, were taken:


By February 3rd we were back in Moab.  These two pictures were taken at the Poison Spider Trailhead:


These are the La Salle Mountains as seen from the Potash Road, on the way to the Poison Spider Trailhead and the one point six camp.  They were purple and gorgeous in the sunset on this evening, and Tommy asked me to pull over and take some pictures.  We had been through a lot of magnificent scenery together, and would see much more in the future, but this is the only time I ever remember him specifically asking me to take pictures.  I guess the colors and the beauty just struck a chord with him.  I took nine pictures and later, at the one point six camp, Tommy spent the evening going back and forth through them, looking at them in the camera's LCD viewer, until it was well after dark and the batteries finally ran dead:


One day at the one point six camp Tommy started this drawing but after a few minutes yanked it from the tablet in a way that I knew meant he was about to destroy it.  I talked him out of it just in time.  He said it was going to be a hand but he just wasn't happy with the way it was going:

We stayed at the one point six camp for days at a time, several different times, over the months to come.  These pictures are from February 5th:


Seems like Tommy was always working on a picture in those days.  During this stay here at the one point six camp, he worked on this picture off and on over three days from February 5th through 7th.  Ever so often during this time I'd take a picture of his progress.  Here are two of those pictures followed by a scan of the finished work:


Here's a picture from February 8th, again in the back yard at my brother's house:

This is another drawing Tommy did for me at the one point six camp:

In early March I needed to go back to Montana for a couple weeks but Tommy didn't want to come along.  We raised enough money to buy him everything he expected to need to last him two weeks and I took him out to the one point six camp to stay while I went to Montana and back.  Here are some pictures taken on the day I left, March 6th, at the secluded camp he set up for himself deep in the tamarisk along the river:



While in Montana I looked up two of Tommy's old and dear friends, Larry and Robb, in Missoula.  I took their pictures to show to Tommy when I got back:


Over the past few weeks, as we would be driving down the highway, I had been writing lyrics to a song about Tommy.  Tommy got a real kick out of this and even contributed two of the lines below himself.  By this time it was finished and I had written out the lyrics and added them to the journal.  On this trip I made myself a copy and gave the original sheet to Robb.  Here are those lyrics, set to Jimmy Buffett's "A Pirate Looks At Forty" :

An Artist Looks Past Forty

Mother Mother River, I have heard your call
I've wanted to live on your banks and islands
since I was three feet tall
You've seen it all
Winter Spring Summer Fall

Lots of men explore you - very few see clear
And in your waters you whisper secrets
most men cannot hear
They're living in fear
They know that it's near

Yes I am an artist, but I'm a hundred years too late
The rifles don't thunder, the river's been plundered and
the buffalo have shared in my fate
Life ain't too great
when you arrive too late

Now I do my share a drinkin' and I smoke my share a grass
I've made enough money to buy Missoula
but I piss it away so fast
It's a thing of my past
It wasn't meant to last

And I have been drunk now for over a year
But I'm gonna draw my pictures and I'm gonna drink my beer
And I'm gonna keep trampin'
Gonna go campin' on the Continental Divide
on a cold winter's night
or in the heat of July

Now I go for easy women, but I try to treat 'em right
Some I kept for a while if they gave me a smile
Some I fired on the very first night
I ain't lookin' to fight
Just gotta keep my load light

Mother Mother River, after all these years I've found
a situational hazard
You see, my situation's just not around
I gotta swim or I'll drown
I wasn't made for town

Mother Mother River, I have heard your call
I've wanted to live on your banks and islands
since I was three feet tall
You've seen it all
Winter Spring Summer Fall

I got back to the one point six camp after two weeks as planned, but Tommy was gone.  The only sign that remained that he had been there was the big black trash bag, seen empty in the earlier pictures, now full and tightly tied off.  Tommy couldn't tolerate a litterbug.  I never once saw him throw trash on the ground or leave a scrap of litter anywhere, and this case was no different.  He couldn't carry that big bag out of there 18 miles to the main road, along with all his gear, but at least he made it neat and easy for someone else to carry.  I threw it in the back of my truck and headed for Grand Junction, knowing that's where he would go.  On the way I dumpstered the trash and the next day I found Tommy.  He had run short of supplies and left the one point six camp about twelve hours before I got there.

While I was in Montana Tommy had met some new friends who had come out to the one point six camp to use the boat launch.  They had taken some polaroid pictures and given this one to Tommy.  He gave it to me and I added it to the journal:

In early April we decided to go to the top of Grand Mesa and camp out for a few days.  April 10th was a clear and warm day in Grand Junction, so we supplied up and headed out, but halfway up the mesa the weather turned on us and we suddenly found ourselves in a blizzard.  We pulled off at the Jumbo campground but no way were we going to set up a camp in that blizzard, so we spent the night in the truck.  It was only evening, though, and we had nothing to do, so we decided to climb in the back under the topper and play Battleship.  We had scored the game in Grand Junction back in January, going through a heap of junk someone had left next to the garbage cans in the alley behind their house when they moved out.  Before that, neither of us had played it in a long time, but now that we had it we played often.  Those who know the game can see why we sometimes ran out of white pegs before the game was over, but it took us a while to figure it out...


It was spring, and we had had our fill of winter weather, so we decided to head down the back side of the mesa rather than try to find a place to camp in the snow on top.  We passed through Delta and headed back toward Grand Junction and on the way spotted a sign that said "Escalante Trail" to the left.  We took that road about a mile to where it crosses the Gunnison River and found a campsite that immediately became one of our all-time favorites.  The huge steel I-beams from an old bridge that had been demolished were laying around, but they made great tables, and after dark, candle stands.  The coal train would roar past many times a day, all day and all night, and we loved it.  For some reason Tommy and I both shared a love of railroad noise.  Far from keeping us awake or disturbing our sleep, it had a calming effect on both of us, and always had, back to our first camp on the Clark Fork in Missoula, where the train whistles would echo down Hellgate Canyon for ten full seconds after the whistle had stopped blowing.  These pictures show how close we were to the tracks in this new camp, and the trains would blow their whistles every time they came by, even in that remote area, because of the crossing.  We just loved that camp with all that railroad noise.  From then on we called it our "coal train camp."  We only stayed a week but promised ourselves to make it back someday.  We never did.

In this picture I caught the coal train thundering by at full speed in a freeze frame that is my favorite photographic memento of my times on the road with Tommy:

A couple weeks before this I had bought Tommy a set of fine point pens in various colors as a gift.  It was during this stay at the coal train camp that he used those pens to draw these next three pictures.  He called them his "Red, White and Blue" set - I believe he drew them in that order - and told me the blue one was a self-portrait.  This is the second self-portrait he did for me, this one impressionistic in contrast to the realistic "grace and style" drawing from a year and a half earlier.  When he gave these three drawings to me, little did I know that they would be his last.

"I'm living my life the way I want to live it.  I don't hurt nobody."
- Tommy

Shortly after we left the coal train camp, Tommy decided that he wanted to go back on the street and just live along North Avenue in Grand Junction.  We parted ways but my travels brought me through Grand Junction from time to time, and every time I hit town I looked up Tommy.

In the fall of 2002 I was concerned about him spending the winter outside, because I had noticed that he was getting weaker, so in September I went to Grand Junction to find him and offer him to come back on board and travel with me for a while rather than staying outside.  It turned out that it wasn't necessary, though; he had met a new friend that owned a small trailer house and was letting him stay there.  I asked to see some of his recent artwork and he said "Shoot, I ain't drawn a picture since the ones I did for you at the coal train camp.  I take breaks sometimes."  He had said the same thing the last few times I had talked with him, and although I was disappointed that he had laid aside his artwork, I was relieved that at least he wasn't going to be outside for the winter.  Before saying goodbye and moving on I took these few pictures, which will always remind me of Tommy's epitaph, just below his portrait at the top of this page.  To tell of the story behind it, I need to back up a couple years.

When Tommy stayed at the lodge he spent a lot of time in my room watching movies (by the way, his favorite movie was "The Outlaw Josey Wales").  One day I put "Shock Treatment" in to play but it wasn't to Tommy's taste at all, and a few minutes into the movie he left to go work on a picture.  I went ahead and watched it, and the very last line struck a chord with me.  I went downstairs to find Tommy out on the patio with his girlfriend and the lodge owner, taking a break.  I said "Tommy, I have your epitaph: 'The sun never sets on those who ride into it.'"

His first reaction was to chuckle for just a moment, but then he stopped and thought about it for a few seconds, and said "You know, that's honorable."  I said "Yes, and it's also plagiarism," - this drew a small laugh from all three of them - "but nonetheless it seems to suit you perfectly."  He repeated the line several times.  I could tell that it was growing on him and that he was committing it to memory.  Over the next two years the subject came up occasionally and he always said he liked that saying best, that those were the words to remember him by.

When I got ready to take these pictures, which turned out to be the last pictures I ever got of him, he was facing the sunset.  I said "Pard, this reminds me of your epitaph."  He laughed just a little and at that moment I took the first picture.  He said "Yeah, the sun never sets on those who ride into it.  Reckon I'll just keep on ridin' into it."

I really do believe he was thinking about his own mortality as I took the last two pictures.


A month or so later I came in off the road and moved into a house in Montana.  I spent the winter of 2002/2003 there while Tommy stayed in the trailer house with his friend in Grand Junction.  In July of 2003 I went to Grand Junction to see him but for the first time, I couldn't find him.  The trailer house was gone, the lot vacant.  I asked around all his old hangouts until I learned that the man who owned the trailer had died and that Tommy was back on the street, but I had to come back to Montana without having gotten to see him.  As winter approached I again became concerned about him living outside, so I decided to go find him and offer to take him back to Montana to spend the winter indoors.  I dug in and called every business along North Avenue that I knew he ever frequented, until I came up with the news that he was in the local nursing home.  I called over there and got him on the phone.  It was nice to hear his voice after more than a year without, but the words were painful.

Tommy said his liver was failing rapidly and that the doctors had given him six months to a year to live.  That was in mid-November.  I called him almost every day and we had wonderful chats at first, reminiscing about our old times and our old camps.  I asked him to draw me a picture and he told me again that he hadn't drawn a picture since the coal train camp, and that besides, the nursing home had put all his belongings in storage.  He told me that if he could get his art supplies out he would try to draw me a picture, but things didn't turn out that way.  Tommy told me he was determined to make it 'till spring so we could get out in the mountains together one more time, and early on I held out that hope, but as the days passed his voice got weaker and his speech less coherent.

When I called the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Tommy's mother answered for him.  She told me that Tommy had gone into total liver failure and was not able to speak on the phone, and that he would likely not survive the weekend.  I couldn't get a flight due to the holiday, but I called back every day to ask the nurses for updates, looking for a ray of hope.  There was none.  When I called on Thanksgiving Day his visitors had gone out for a few minutes, so I asked the nurse to hold the phone to his ear and I said what I felt were my last goodbyes.  She said he showed no response and all I could do was hope that he heard me.

I called to check on him Friday and got reports of no change, but when I called Saturday I was told that he had awakened, that he was sitting up, eating and drinking and talking.  I booked the next possible flight and was at his bedside by 9:30 Sunday morning.  Tommy was drifting in and out of consciousness, but at one point as I spoke to him, he raised his head and looked straight at me, and with the clear glint of recognition in his eyes called me by name, by the name he always called me, twice.  It did my heart good to know that he knew I was there.

Tommy left this world the next day, the first of December, two thousand three.

This page is a retelling of only a very small portion of my memories of Tommy, a good man and a true and loyal friend I will miss deeply for the rest of my life.  If you're wondering who I am, just think of me as a friend of Tommy's, and call me what he always called me.

The Raven.