What is Tom’s Place?

Dad and me

Welcome to Tom’s place.

I call this ‘Tom’s Place’ because my Dad’s name was Tom and his door was always open for me.

He offered support, care, and a compassionate ear. He gave me a lot in my lifetime, but most of all, he gave me the gift of life, and because of that, we’ll always be connected.

When I was born, Dad cradled me in his arms on the country hospital veranda and whispered all his hopes and dreams to me. When I was sitting beside him in his last days, I thought of that image as I cradled him and whispered all my hopes and dreams to him.

Tom was a sweet father and a troubled man. He was always helping and never asked for help for himself.

When I was seven, I had to ask Dad what he did for a living for homework. He told me, ‘I’m a Jack of All Trades and A Master of None.’

‘What’s that?’ I asked.

‘That’s what I do!’ he said

The next day at school, the teacher queried, ‘Alex, what does your father do?’

‘A Jack of All Trades and A Master of None.’ It was a diligent reply as I was so proud I’d remembered it.

‘Don’t be stupid, Alex.’ She shook her head and sighed. ‘Now, What does he do?’

‘A. Jack. Of. All. Trades. And. A. Master. Of. None. That’s what he does!’ Thanks, Dad!

He also sent me to school to tell the kids my last name, ‘Grantham,’ was in the bible.

‘Where is it in the Bible?’ They asked me

‘Jesus Grant-them loaves and fishes.’ I said.

He gave me my sense of humour and my love of listening and storytelling.

The other thing Dad gave me was good advice – even if I didn’t know it at the time.

He asked, ‘Why are you studying Italian as a year nine elective? Computers are the future, Alex. Study computers!’ Today, I don’t speak Italian, but I do use computers. Why didn’t I listen to him?

When I was eighteen, he took me to Lennox Headland to share his favourite pineapple crush drink. I was about to head out into the world, and he gave me the best life advice possible.

‘Always listen to people’s stories, Alex.’ He said. ‘Everyone has a story, and each story is valuable; you have to listen and find where the value is for you. Always listen with your heart.’

When I was 20 years old, I lived in Melbourne, and I called him, crying.

‘I don’t think I can cut it in the city, Dad.’ I sobbed.

‘What do you want to do?’ He asked.

‘Not work in a call centre.’

‘Well, what are you good at?’ He asked.

‘I can tell stories, and I write, ok.’

‘So, what do you want to do?’ He asked.

‘I want to be a writer and a publisher!’

‘How do you do that?’ He asked.

I found out, and I did it. I’m glad I learned to listen to him.

As I got older, I brought my first girlfriend home. Dad and I sat on the veranda at Misty Mountain with a cup of coffee. The kookaburras were loud in the air. He broke the silence between us.

‘She’s not for you.’ He declared. I prepared myself to fight for my right to choose whomever I wanted to walk with in life.
Before I could say anything, he continued to say, ‘she doesn’t have a sense of humour. She doesn’t find you funny, Alex. It’ll never work.’ He was right.

Later on, he said, ‘Whatever you do, get your degree. It will change your life. Don’t give up.’ I didn’t give up, and it did change my life. On my graduation day, he took me aside and said, ‘I’m so proud of you, Alex.’

When Dad’s sister, Patricia, died, we sat on my Melbourne porch as we drank.

‘Are you ok?’ I queried.

‘You’ll never know, Alex, how much I love my family. You kids mean everything to me. I always had Patricia on my side. You’re lucky to have each other. I’m lucky to have you all.’

Then, Dad got sick. I called him and said, ‘I’m coming home.’

I brought home ‘the one’, and Dad looked at me and said, ‘She’s a good sort. You’ll be right. Be kind to each other. Love each other and don’t let each other go.’

In his last days, he was vague and distant as I stood beside him. He turned and looked directly at me. I touched his arm and leaned in to kiss him on the cheek.

‘I love you. I love you..’ He repeated softly in my ear. He nodded as I hugged him so tight. I could have hugged him forever. He died, two weeks before his 74th birthday.

These days, I promise to keep sharing the parts of myself that Dad helped me become. He continues to be loved as long as I keep living.

His life and love touched everyone that met him. He was caring, charismatic, had never-ending love and patience for everyone, and accepted everyone and their story. He knew how to laugh and had so much joy.

Although he struggled with life, he always made me feel better. I’m determined not to waste a moment of this precious, beautiful gift of life he’s given me.

Dad was always surrounded by love, and now his love surrounds us.

Welcome to Tom’s place.

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