Tuesday, September 22, 2020

I Have No Words


Last week I blogged about how our words outlive us. As I sat down to craft this week’s post, I had no words to share. This week, my sweet husband would have celebrated his 68th birthday. 


My family has indulged me these past few years in recognizing Tom’s birthday by getting together for one of his favorite activities, bicycling. This year may look a bit different. We are planning a socially distanced walk. I still intend to ride my bike. At least in my neighborhood. It feels right to me.


Back to the blog post. At first I considered posting a series of pictures. Pictures I have of Tom growing up and pictures of our life together. I simply have no words. Ultimately, I decided to share some of Tom’s words. I offer them in no particular order. Use them as you will:


On Fixing Things Around the House

“I just took it apart and put it back together.”

This approach was successful roughly 99% of the time.


On Treating an Injury or Wound:

“Breathe deep.”

“Put ice on it.”

“It’ll feel better when it quits hurting

99% return on the first two. 

100% right on the last one.


On Hospitality:

“I invited (someone from South Korea, Taiwan, Finland, India, Italy, Brazil, you name it) and his family over for dinner tonight. I hope that’s okay. I don’t know if they speak English or not.”

85% okay, but I did it anyway and 100% return on friendships around the world.


On Politics:

(No way am I going to write anything Tom said about politics on this post for the world to see.)

100% sure I left the room when the subject came up.


On Facing Challenges:

“You can do that.”

100% Encouragement with 100% positive results.

I feel compelled to offer examples here. 


From the kids:

“Dad, I’m thinking about trying out for….(swim team, band, symphony, cheerleading, you name it.)” 

Answer: “You can do that.” Not permission to do it, mind you. He expressed a genuine assertion that he believed our kids could do about anything they set their minds to do.


From me:

“I’m thinking about going for (my masters, doctorate).”

Answer: “You can do that.” Again, an assertion that I could do what I set out to accomplish.


“I’m going to be a teacher.”

“You can do that.”


“I think I’m going to be a professor.”

“You can do that.”


“I’m going to be an author.”

“You can do that.”


Almost three years after Tom died, I was asked to travel to Kosovo to teach. As I prayed about it, I could almost hear him say, “You can do this. I know you can.”


Tom was a problem solver. He was an encourager. He was fun and loving. He cared about people and never considered himself above others. Tom was a good man.


But my favorite words I heard from him?


I love you.

100% received. 100% returned.


Happy Birthday in Heaven, Tom Waters. I love you.

















  1. i am sorry for your loss.

    'It'll feel better when it quits hurting' reminds me of one of my dad's jewels. Whenever an item is lost, he says, 'It's always in the last place you look.' Well, obviously, because when you find it, you can stop looking! So silly.

    1. I love a good sense of humor. Thank you for sharing that gem! When Tom would tell one of our daughters "It'll feel better when it quits hurting" they would nearly always stop crying for a moment to think it through!


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