Thomas B. Preble

 

 

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Written by Tomís sister, Emily Callahan and read at Tom's funeral on July 7, 2003 by their Aunt Michelle:


It is an insurmountable task to try to summarize someone's life on paper. Words cannot capture the spirit, the essence of a loved one who is gone forever. The only thing that can be done is to share some memories; some important and some seemingly insignificant. When you realize that you will never again see this person that you love so much, even the most trivial details take on great importance. These are some of the moments that flash in my mind like fireworks when I remember my brother.

When we were children we played together a lot. Most of the time I would tow him around and tell him what to do. We would play dress up and I would dress him up as a little girl. I named him Raymonde and he was always willing to go along with this game. We also played dress up a lot in Nana's attic with our cousins. Tom and I each had teddy bears that we played with often. Mine was named Ex and I don't remember what Tom's was called. We would dress up the bears and have them be in a circus. At one point we both collected Care Bears and built them houses and cars with Tom's Construx set.

Two songs that Tom really liked when he was a kid were "Cats in the Cradle" and "Mr. Roboto", although he denied this when he got older. He had a birthday party and he and all his friends were break dancing on the lawn to "Mr. Roboto" and "One Night in Bangkok". He broke his nose playing t-ball and he didn't even cry. When we played pirate ship in our tree house, Tom was usually the slave boy or the pet cat. He teased us all a lot. He called Mom "Fat Butt" in public when he was four years old. Tom teased our cat mercilessly and always had scratches on his hands and arms from when he took it too far and she got him back. He threw the cat off the top of the stairs to see if she could fly and threw her in the kiddie swimming pool to see if she could swim.

Tom could do lots of boy things like drive the snowmobile. I was jealous when Tom could do things better than me. He was good with knives and our parents allowed him to have them when he was quite young. Mom let him sharpen her kitchen knives and he could whittle.

Mom bought me an acoustic guitar when I was 14 and I took lessons for awhile. I learned the basic chords and the bass line to "Smoke on the Water". Wasn't I mad when Tom took over my guitar and learned to play it. Pretty soon it wasn't my guitar at all anymore, but I always reminded him where he got it. After awhile I was really grateful that he learned to play because he would play songs that we knew and I would sing.

When we went places in the car he always let me control the radio and didn't seem to mind my singing. When we were in high school we played ping pong in the basement pretty much every night. I usually beat him when we first started playing, but after awhile he got better than me. We probably listened to my Jethro Tull Aqualung CD every night while we played that year.

We had an unspoken tradition of buying each other CDs for Christmas. Tom would always open the one he bought for me and listen to it before giving it to me. If we liked the one we bought better than the one we got as a gift then we would trade. I got some of my favorite CDs from Tom, including the first Weezer and a live Portishead album.

We still played dress up when we got older. Tom let me dye his hair pink once. We went to see the Sex Pistols reunion tour and we both dressed up like punks just for the fun of it. We looked so trashy- I had on a plaid mini dress with ripped fishnets and Doc Martens and Tom wore a t-shirt that said "Pink Floyd sucks", a black vinyl jacket, and eyeliner. It was not our finest fashion moment but we had fun.

Tom was a horrible driver. The scary part was that he thought he was a good driver and everyone else was bad. Tom smiled and laughed easily. You couldn't help but laugh with him, even when he was being cynical. It was possible to have a very comfortable silence with him.

Tom would come to my house to visit and make a terrible mess. He would be there for half an hour and my coffee table would be completely covered with water glasses, juice glasses, beer bottles, guitar picks, keys, wallet, his eyeglasses, guitar magazines, lighters, and CDs. He would bring all of his dirty laundry and I would usually do it for him (after the time he put a whole pouch of tobacco through my washer and dryer). Tom tried to be helpful- he would wash my dishes and then I'd go behind him and wash them again because he had a tendency to leave food stuck on. Sometimes he would cook me breakfast: scrambled eggs, toast, and coffee served around noontime. Tom's favorite food was probably cereal.

Tom often told me about the band that he was in, The Fever Monument. He was so proud to be working with such talented musicians and he had high hopes for their success.

I can't remember ever having a fight or an argument with Tom. I will miss Tom's hugs. He really knew how to give a good hug - long, strong and sincere. He told his family that he loved us a lot recently. His love is infinite, and it will be infinitely returned.