As soon as I heard Tom Slomkoski’s story, he was my hero. Tom was a medic in the U.S. Navy, primarily active on the USS Essex. That ship was very active in World War II in the Pacific ocean. It was in fierce battle with the Japanese. It was bombed and attacked in many ways and crashed on by a Kamikaze suicide plane. There were many casualties and Tom, as a medic, even though he himself was wounded, kept very busy caring for the others.
Now at age 90 Tom is still a healthy, World War II, U.S. Navy veteran deserving a lot of credit and respect.
After the war, Tom got a college education and eventually two masters degrees and his life was busy as a public school teacher. But now in retirement something else has emerged from Tom's deep spirit.
We met Tom and his lovely wife, Betty, at the home of Rosa and Gerard Slomkoski, their son and his R.N. wife. Rosa had planned a lovely party and invited us to come. The party was nicely flavored by meeting Tom and Betty.
Betty told us that Tom goes to church every day!
He starts early in the morning, going to mass and other spiritual services happening at his nearby church. But the amazing and most wonderful thing about Tom is that he also goes to the funeral masses that are being held in the church that day. Even if he does not know the family or the person involved in the funeral, he attends as a support person. As a caring presence, he communicates support, concern, and love. Tom shows loving-kindness to dozens by attending these funeral services every day.
Some funerals are attended by many family and friends; others draw only a small group. But Tom is there at each one, doing his part to honor the deceased persons. This is a small thing that he can do as an act of kindness - an act of love - and he does it consistently.
That is why Tom is my hero. His World War II military action and dedicated service was the first thing that placed him on my list of great people. His service to hurting humanity, the grieving, taking place every day of the week, is so unique, so rare, and so special that Tom has become one of my saints.
An ardent Catholic Christian like Tom will not be comfortable being called a saint. But according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, a saint is a person who is exceptionally meek, charitable, and patient. That ‘s Tom.
Silly Thoughts At my age ’Getting lucky’ means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.
At my age ’Getting lucky’ means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.