Our community lost a great friend this week with the passing of Tom Frame. Emerson’s description of success is very fitting for this fine man.
“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; a great hockey or lacrosse game, a special holiday, a round of golf, time with family
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”
The accolades describing Tom have been pouring in, for his wife Barb and their two fine sons, Thomas and Nolan.
What is consistent in those words is the description of “he always made me feel like I was the most important person he met that day, always kind, listened intently, was funny, had a smile that would light up a room, had a zest for life, was always there to help, said yes to helping family or a friend or joining in an activity. He was generous.” Tom was comfortable with any group and could engage in conversation effortlessly with anyone and leave a positive imprint, young and old experienced him the same.
The boys and I met Tom and the family when he coached my youngest in soccer when he was in Grade 1 or 2. It was a really fun year for the kids. Tom’s co-coach was Brian Guy and the two of them, both very busy men, made the time for these young players to develop their skills and the love of the game. They had a super-fun wrap-up party, with each player being given a unique and fun award. I too was welcomed into the fold and our family friendship began.
I imagined that my sons would describe Tom as “such a nice guy,” “always upbeat.” What touched me was how intense their feelings and of how important he was to them. They described him as an adult in their lives who always listened and cared about the answer s they shared. There was no judgement in hearing the real answer, just curiosity and support. He was genuine. Always glad to see us and willing to engage in a conversation to explore their current interest, sports or world events. “I didn’t have to put on the phony face with Tom.”
We know how important this is to young people to have adults in their lives who genuinely care about them, are interested in their lives, hopes and dreams, and their view of the world. He was a safe place to share your real self and be part of their village. This experience would have been the same for hundreds of young people Tom coached in soccer, and lacrosse, with his son’s friends, and his friends, kids. Also his adult friends and colleagues would say the same.
There were many qualities that my darling and I admired in Tom. He really loved life. The journey was what was important to him and that is how he lived, taking the time to explore.
I loved the caring way he was with his two sons, so proud and full of love. His respect and admiration for his Mom and his brothers, friends and colleagues was a pleasure. His love of his wife Barb was deep, and we saw it in the way he looked at her, spoke of her and enjoyed their love. Tom cared deeply and we knew it. Relationships were very important to him and he was a great role model to us on nurturing those whether friendship or professional.
Tom’s life and unfortunate death is a reminder about what is important in our life, to love and be loved. Be present in the here and now, laugh, smile, be curious, and engage. Tom left the world far too soon and did leave it a better place, and we consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have called him friend. It is not the toys we have that matters most, it is the love we shared.
Michele Blais has worked with children and families in the North Okanagan for the past 29 years. She is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday.