Wednesday, May 30, 2012

At Peace

It's been a very difficult Memorial Day weekend with the passing of my dearest friend Tom Emmons.  Admittedly the right words have yet to come out but I will give it a good attempt.  Tom was working for CPT Corporation when we first met in 1980.  A brilliant engineer, we hit it off well.  In magnetic design lingo Tom was a pot core inductor guy.  This was a type of geometry for an electronic component that had great inductive properties and was self shielding.  In fishing terms it was like a type of reel, it was light weight, had lot's of line capacity, and a great drag.  Over the years one is bound to meet people through your work environment that stick and Tom really stuck.  From a business standpoint he was my best customer and the most consistent.  His designs were fabulous and had longevity.  First with CPT then with Stearns Computers, onto Moniterm Corp, DataCard, Teradyne, and a number of companies he consulted with, I still make a significant amount of components for the products he designed.  Through the years I had become a trusted confidant and friend.  Starting in 1998 until he was laid off at Teradyne in 2009, Tom and I would have lunch together at least 3 times a week, every week.  Teradyne was located a mile from my work which made for a convenient rendezvous.  That's many hours of getting to know your friend.  Our two big fishing events were the week between Christmas and New Year renting an ice house on Mille Lacs as well as our annual Fourth of July outing with the intent on watching the Garrison Fireworks Show while on the lake.  Along with our friend Tom McAtee we always had a great time and sometimes even down right dangerous!   Tom never like venturing on ice regardless of the thickness and it was quite a chore to talk him into the first ice scenario's.  As you see here Tom was a big man and probably had more to fear than Mr. McAtee and I in that department.  Either way he was the consummate outdoorsman who loved hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and would rather rough it than enjoy the luxury of a comfortable bed, boat, or weather.  Here is my favorite picture of him with his ever present camo boonie hat, field jacket, shorts, and that impeccable smile.  This might even have been the largest smallmouth bass he had ever caught. 

The most difficult part of this is the fact that Tom, after a prolonged period of setbacks, personal issues, and depression, took his own life.  It is very hard to even discuss this however I feel that this post would not be complete without the whole story.  I think one of the best sentiments was written by my good friend Dale Stenseth, one of Tom's co-workers at a couple of companies he worked for.  Here are the excerpts:  "Yesterday, I attended a memorial gathering for a former coworker. He was also a Viet Nam era veteran, 4 years younger than me. While we remember those who have died in wars, we give less recognition to those who returned, particularly those who are wounded in body or mind. Many suffer from depression and other afflictions, like substance abuse and gambling. His demons finally became more than he could bear. Perhaps he had the last laugh. I had not talked with him in nearly a year. As is often the case for survivors, I feel guilty, as if I had somehow neglected him, even though I know I could not have saved him or changed his path.  I will remember Tom as a kindly person with a smile." 

Depression is a disease that like cancer can rip the life out of one's soul.  It is difficult to affect a person who is close to you unless they are willing to let you into their heart.  Those who were close to Tom and his struggles agree, we stood by him till the end, never giving up on our friend yet understanding that although our efforts failed, we still loved him to the end.  Our lives have been made better by our friendship with Tom, and even though our future maybe short one less friend, he has given the gift of resolve to always try to make our lives and those of others a better place.  Life is never fair as all of us have our examples.  The last picture was taken one October perch fishing while it was freezing cold.  Tom was never one for words and gave me the big hint, he was cold, let's go.  I made him stay, something I wish I could say today.  Love you buddy!


Duane said...

I guess I will never understand how someone can give up something so precious as life and hurt so many people that love them. I, too, have seen this up close and personal. I am sorry for the loss of your fishing partner and friend.
We never do replace those people, do we?

Dave Anderson said...

Dewey, As much as I try to rationalize it I have accepted the fact that one will never understand another mans plight until you walk in his shoes. We are all different and with that you get the good and the bad. Sometimes it takes work to stay on that "good" side of things but oh the rewards are so special!


Ryan Przymus said...

Dave I am so sorry to here about your friend. I too lost a very close friend, hunting and fishing partner of twenty plus years to suicide a little less than a year ago. Pride is a terrible thing sometimes in that it stops you from asking for help or letting the people that care about you know that you are hurting. I know my friend had to be in some terrible pain to do this to himself and the ones that loved him. I'd like to think he's chasing that big buck in the sky. My thoughts and prayers go out to Toms family and friends.


Jeff King said...

awwww man....Dave...theres some things in life that we will never understand, impossible. I always say that some good must come from everything and in this and these kind of deals I don't know how and if there is its so deep, so much searching, so much healing to do. I just wish comfort for you and everyone that loved Tom, I'd bet he never meant to hurt anybody , he was just so tired.

Dave Anderson said...

Ryan and Jeff,

You hit the nail right on the head.
It really helps to have the friends I do!