Friday, January 1, 2016

Farewell 2015: A Tribute to Tom Hamlin

Thomas L. Hamlin
December 6, 1929- August 9, 2015

As I sit here reflecting on the past 365 days, I am filled with a sense of peace with a shadow of a poignant loss. Dan's father passed away on Sunday, August 9th. I'll never forget the call because moments like this stand still in time. This Christmas was bittersweet to say the least.

Something I've been wanting to do is post the eulogy that Dan read at his father's Funeral. This seems like a good time to look back and reflect.

Some of the things that he has taught us for which to thank him. Our:
·         Work ethic – he always said, “work with vigor”…. he passed on the secret to success to all of his children. Work hard, save money, buy stuff, it is as simple as that. Nothing in life is free and share what you have when you can. He worked hard so that we could have everything we needed and much more. My father was a typesetter at Dayton Typeographic for over 44 years. I don’t know if he liked his job or not, I know he worked hard and he worked with pride and never really talked about it with me, that was his way, he just did what needed to be done for his family. My brother Tommy worked with him right after high school for almost 5 years, he rode to work with him every day. The only thing he ever told me about it was that my father was an angry driver with a colorful vocabulary toward other drivers, he loved listening to Box Car Willy and Floyd Cramer on his eight track tape player, over, and over, and over…. He also told me that his main job was to fetch lunch for my father, every day, at the arcade downtown, while he played “Tonk” in the breakroom with his friends. I only know that “Tonk” is a card game. He also worked as a volunteer firefighter for many years, rising to the rank of captain. He was a paramedic along with my mother and enjoyed his time at the firehouse, drinking beer. Apparently, back then, you could drink beer at the firehouse.

·         Family- Family was everything, you always do for family, and he always did. He always had your back, he would curse you on one hand and help you with the other. He was black and white, in all things. You were either right or you were wrong and he would tell you what he thought, never holding back. We valued his opinion, but you had better be very wary in asking for it, for he would give it to you, all of it…. Every colorful word of it. He loved his daughters and protected them fiercely. I will never forget the day my sister Julie had trouble with a neighbor, across the street. An older gentleman giving her a hard time, maybe about her boys, maybe not, I don’t remember. But I do remember one phone call to our father and he was speeding to her house in his baby blue Lincoln Town Car, skidding to stop and stepping out with his cane, looking for the man that dared to insult his daughter. That’s what you got from him, every time.

·         Speaking of colorful sayings, my father had a way with words, words that are not appropriate to repeat here in Church, or public, or out loud for that matter. Come see me later or one of my brothers, we will entertain you with them outside of church of course.

·         Generosity- I learned something this week about my father that I never knew. Apparently he had an affinity for the Lakota Indians, he gave money, every month, to an orphanage that helps Lakota Indian boys. The St Joseph Indian School, an orphanage which provides food, shelter and work programs to help them succeed in life. He never, ever mentioned it to anyone. That was my father. I would like to honor him now, by continuing this gift of giving for him. If you needed anything, he was there, a place to live, check. His children moved in and out of that house more times than I can count, back and forth, he never said no, he just said don’t block the garage with your car. I don’t think my mother and he had ever spent more than 3 or 4 years total time in that house, alone, someone always lived there. Uncle Mike, my mom’s brother, lived there after their mother died. He was 17 years old and shared a bunk bed with Matt. Sons/daughters, grandchildren, even friends all spent time under his roof. If you needed a car, take his, need a ride, what time and where did you need to go. Money, he was the king of twenty bucks, always making sure everyone had money in their pocket. A man shouldn't walk around without a little cash in his pocket. He was there, for all of us, always….

·         Patience- just raising six children speaks volumes on his level of patience…..We tested him in all ways children do. He was just in his punishment, unless you were howling like a dog (my sisters: Julie and Kim) and you always knew when to run, when the gold tooth was showing. Honestly though, I think we all feared mom and her orange “hot wheel” tracks, just a little more.

·         Humility – My father never spoke about humility, he just made sure all of his sons had his name. If your last name was Hamlin and you were a boy, you had better have the name Thomas in there, somewhere…. His eldest, Mathew Thomas, his namesake Thomas, and me – Daniel Thomas. Then there is Matt’s eldest son, Tristan Thomas, and my eldest son Maxwell Charles……. Yep, I broke the chain, maybe he should have talked to me about it….. My son Maximus, was the first grandchild on Katie’s side of the family, so I thought it would be nice to name him after his grandfather Chuck, “Charles”. Well…. That didn't go over so well, I don’t think he spoke to me for a month…. By the time my second son was born, there was no choice, we named him Thomas, little Tommy, or I wouldn't be here today….. Humility.

·         Love – for more than 61 years he has shown us what it is to love. Faithful love. It’s not always pretty, but it is resolute and it was lasting. It was there, every day, sometimes not as flashy as it should have been, but it was in the house, all around us, always. Every time you came home, you felt it, you would give a little sigh, and know you were safe, in his love. You could at times, get away with some things, but disrespect our mother, and you immediately saw his love for her rise to the top, respect, he didn't always demand it for himself, but it did for her. He loved her, and his children. When he told you, you knew it.

I could not tell you about my father, without talking about playing cards. It has become a staple in almost every event, every holiday, every get together this family has. We will probably play tonight when we go home. He loved to play cards. He has been playing cards with his family for the past 45 years, himself, 60 or more? He, and my mother, have taught all of us to play cards, particularly the game of Shanghai. First thing to learn, if you don’t bring money, don’t sit down, the Hamlin’s do not play for fun….. At “tournaments” the pots have been as high as 200.00 dollars, 20 people sitting at 4 or 5 different tables, some of them 13 years old, praying, to win that pot. Age didn't matter, if you had money and didn't hold up the game you could play. If you don’t know Shanghai, it’s like Rummy, you collect sets of three and runs of four. Different levels add to the difficulty and you can buy cards throughout the game. Each game costs money, each hand costs money and the lowest score wins. And winning is everything, I have watched my father chuckle and count his money in front of children who had just lost every penny they had, he did that more times than I can count. Better luck next time and bring your big boy pants when you come back. That is Shanghai. (holding up a Joker) and this is the Joker, the most coveted card in Shanghai, it’s wild, it’s anything you need it to be. Everyone wants one, you need them to win. It completes your sets, it completes your runs. It puts money in your pocket. You knew when my father drew one, he made sure to let everyone know, he would suck in a breath, smile and sometimes just show it to you, so you knew you were about to lose. It makes everyone happy. My father is like the Joker, when you have him in your hand, you know you are going to be ok.

Rest in Peace Tom. You can't imagine how much you were loved and respected. You will always remain in the minds, hearts, and lives you've touch.

Farewell 2015, here's to the new beginnings of 2016.