“I wish I’d met you 20 years ago,”
...said a tearful George Rodrigue on the phone last week with Tom “Slim” Gray of Alvin, Texas. The two became friends in Houston during the summer of 2012. They exchanged stories every Monday for nearly three months, as they sat for hours during chemotherapy.
“I just wanted to call and let you know how we feel about you,” continued George.
(pictured, Tom Gray with George Rodrigue, reconnecting last month in Houston-)
Last summer Tom was for George in many ways a lifeline, just as Tom's wife Janice was for me. In the midst of their own life’s struggle, they shined with their compassion for others.
(pictured, a coconut cake from Janice and Tom, a surprise for George when he completed his 40th consecutive day of radiation-)
I took notes last summer as George and Tom visited, resulting in the story, “Match Race,” now revised and updated to reflect the version appearing in the book, The Other Side of the Painting, due this fall. At their request, the story also includes their real names, disguised initially to protect their privacy.
“We’ll send you Wendy’s book as soon as it comes out,” promised George. “Your name’s in the book, Slim. It’s permanent.”
Read “Match Race,” starring Janice and Tom “Slim” Gray, at this link.
“Take it easy, my friend,” said George, as he hung up the phone.
Rest in Peace, Slim.
-Tom “Slim” Gray passed away at home in Alvin, Texas on August 19, 2013; his wife Janice and their two sons were by his side; obituary-