Tommy and I grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts, with an older sister, Linda (she passed away in 1989 due to complications from Diabetes) and Mom and Dad. Dad was one of the hardest working people I have ever known – he worked in masonry…at times we would ride into Boston (or through Boston on our way to a family vacation in Maine) and nothing made Dad prouder than pointing out to Tommy, Linda and I, all of the buildings in Boston that he helped to build.
Often times, when we were back at home, we would try to build our own things, or at least pretend to. There was a small dirt pile off to the side of the house that we use to run our Tonka trucks through, and build buildings with Legos…in fact, I’m willing to bet that if we were to excavate that area today, we would probably find an old truck, some Legos and a bunch of Army men.
Tommy is younger than me by five years, though you may not know it by looking at the two of us…Tommy has also been very successful in his career – moving his way up in pharmaceutical sales from a sales rep to a regional sales manager…he has even been recognized nationally for his work in pharmaceutical sales. In my own estimation Tommy has been extremely successful, though I am a little biased.
In life, Tommy and I are both very driven individuals…however, I hate sales (I’m just not that good at it)…Tommy, on the other hand, has done very well. I think we are probably both driven because of the way Mom and Dad brought us up – if you are going to do a job, do it right and if you expect to be paid for working a full day, then you better put in a full days worth of work.
Growing up I guess you could say that we pushed each other without realizing that we were doing so. Whether it was down in Mom and Dad’s basement, where we set up some old mattresses and would pretend we were in the WWF, or, and more often, you could find us out in the back yard playing baseball (or stickball) or soccer. Tommy went on to be a decent baseball player, as well as a good football player in high school.
As we got older and have taken on more responsibilities, Tommy has never wavered. In fact, he actually bought the house next to Mom and Dad. And after Dad died, Tommy spent more time in the house with Mom and has really been the primary caretaker for Mom after her stroke and battle with lung cancer. He has tirelessly worked with Mom in her rehabilitation and we are determined to help her walk again.
And through all of this, when I needed to ask Tommy if he would consider being tested to see if he could donate a kidney to me, he never hesitated. When we, as a family, discussed how to go about asking people to get tested, Tommy simply said, “Let’s just see where my tests go and then we can think about asking other…there may be no need.” In fact, there was no need as Tommy called me after several long weeks of waiting for his blood work to come back…he said that he was 5 out of 6 antigen match.
That will never be a phone call that I will ever forget. It gave me hope…and a chance to live.
It is impossible for me to fully say how much Tommy means to me, as well as how much the gift he is giving to me means to me…I can simply say “Thank You”.