My brother-in-law Tommy and I didn’t always get along. I thought he came along and stole my sister. He did. He might say he rescued her from me.
He made her his wife, in a way that I could never make her my sister. She just was.
To get my sister to be his wife, Tom had to win her over: think her both beautiful and smart, be loyal and kind and gentlemanly. He had to be committed. And funny. He had to be respectful and tenacious and the kind of man she’d trust to raise her kids.
Tommy was all those things. He won my sister over. Then, after all that, he gave her unconditional love—not necessarily pretty or perfect—but the thing we all crave—unconditional love, Tommy gave that.
And not just to Jayne. You should’ve seen the parade of people and random acts of kindness Tom attracted into the last chapter of his life. So many people, in so many ways, stepped up to say, “I love you, Tom.” Damn, if he didn’t love that.
Almost as much as he loved his boys. His last Christmas, I asked him if it was hard to say good-bye. “It is,” he said, “but I’ve been fortunate. I got to see them grow up. I think we’ve raised some fine young men.”
Yes, my nephews are fine young men. Through them, best parts of my brother-in-law live on.