Tashi Colman

Over and again, we’re taught “death comes without warning” – the timing “uncertain”. And still, it’s a shock, even when a body is clearly deteriorating. It was barely two weeks ago, Tom and I were in the Public Gardens. A bright sunny day, Tom in chipper spirits, his stylish grey hat nattily perched on his head, lots of strangers – even more than usual – greeting Tom with a smile and cheery hello. Back at Parkland I squeezed his shoulder, said goodbye and promised to come see him after datun. It was not to be. That’s hard to accept. Thinking about Tom these past two days, one word keeps coming to mind: – “gentle”. Tom’s gentle warmth, his gentle smile, his wry gentle humour, the way the Vidyadhara’s teaching and his practice have gently seeped into Tom’s bones and wafted into his pores – no big words, no fancy concepts, no hoo-ha, no big deal. Tom was a true gentleman – A Gentle Man. And how that gently pervaded the atmosphere around him. The Parkland staff for one. And more. When I go for a walk no one greets me. When I’m with Tom, every second stranger seems to greet us. And it’s not because he was in a wheelchair. Many in wheelchairs with fixed and rigid features get no smile or hello or weather pleasantry as Tom always did. Effortlessly, he’d connect. Some of my favourite memories with Tom these past months were reading aloud bits of the Vidyadhara’s biography and recollections of the Vidyadhara’s old students. We’d stop, laugh, share memories, and read on. Your simple, gentle goodness, Tom, still bathes and warms me. Thank you for your friendship.