This past weekend, I found out that our friends lost someone very close to them, their lifelong friend Tom. I was lucky enough to have met Tom when our family tagged along on their annual summer vacation to Block Island. For the last three decades, they reunite with their high school friends where they relax at the beach, gather around a bonfire, shoot off fireworks, shop at the farmer’s markets in town and enjoy amazing lobster and lots of drinks.
But there’s even more to this picturesque New England beach island than the quaint stores, the sunshine and the ghosts (don’t even get me started on that one) some of the most memorable times we had on Block Island were because of Tom – or shall I say Pirate Tom for those of us who were lucky enough to see him in action.
Each summer, Tom would visit with his friends on Block Island and during that weekend, would transform into his stage persona, Pirate Tom. Dozens of kids and parents would gather around Pirate Tom as he embarked on a trek across Mansion Beach that would eventually lead to finding a buried treasure. With his booming voice, kerchief on his head, scraggly beard and white flowy shirt, Tom embodied the spirit of someone who had just stepped out from another time period. The moment he began to speak, we all became part of the adventure as he made us laugh and we cheered him on as he fought off another swashbuckler who attempted to steal the treasure trove of beads that were buried somewhere along the beach.
It was so much fun to see Tom entertain those kids and the group seemed to grow year after year to a point where some kids didn’t even know Pirate Tom but knew they definitely wanted to be a part of the action. No matter your age, if you witnessed a Pirate Tom performance, you walked away with a priceless summer memory.
There are not many people in this world who can touch people’s lives at any age but Tom had that magical gift. He was a bartender, a voice over artist and actor who relished the opportunity to tell stories while making people laugh and brightening their lives.
And that, my dear readers is what life is truly about. It’s not about having a fancy title next to your name or driving an expensive car or having a spectacular home. Life is about the people who make your days fuller and richer with love, laughter and adventure. Tom was that person and while he is gone, his legend will absolutely live on for generations to come. In fact, I think we’re going to take a trip to Block Island this summer to retrace those magical steps along the beach. While we may not find that buried treasure again, what I’ve come to realize is that Pirate Tom was the treasure all along.