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Thomas Wolcott
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Something I wrote for a friend who passed 5 years ago

What's your angle? What are you about? Why are you the way you are? I reflect on these questions. How do I respond to this question? I believe it starts with the fact that people can shape who you are for better or worse. People who you hear about or people who are in your life. If you let them, they can shape your life. The first for me is someone before my time. Someone I read about and said he is an amazing man. I idolized him for his character, spirit, pride, charity. The baseball player, Roberto Clemente, his story left an indelible mark in my heart and mind. I never thought I would meet a man with characteristics similar to this. But now looking back, I realized I was honored and privileged to have a friend such as this. Although he died 5 years ago on my birthday, what I have seen in living and in death, from and because of him left another mark in my mind. His name was Benny Powell. He was a well known Jazz musician. You may think how did I have the honor to become a friend of his. Part of it was with all the shows I went to of his. He even assisted me in doing an interview on a paper about Duke Ellington. Benny became a great friend. He was so warm, humanly, always smiling, loving and charitable. He would give all of himself for family and friends. Benny was a remarkable man. Sad as I am that he passed on my birthday. I am honored to have known Benny and seen these facets of him. I was at a show of his in 2009 and I brought my ex. He tells her what a great guy I am and that I go to all his shows. It may not have meant much to my ex or Benny saying that but I knew he meant it and it meant a lot to me. Benny was always inviting to anyone who came to him. I always enjoyed hearing his music, he played the trombone, which became one of my instruments as well. A year later, the day after my birthday, I heard the news that Benny had passed and I didn't know how to react or what to think. It was unfathomable that such an amazing man and friend was gone. Part of me was mad, Part of me in tears crying from the loss. A few weeks later, I found out when his funeral was. Of course, I had to be there. I couldn't count how many people where there. I believe 400 or so. Of course, a number of people spoke about him and musicians played pieces for him. After the ceremony, the band processed out playing a New Orleans based song, where he came from. Oh When the saints go marching in, played and his family was dancing and clapping and smiling. I had nothing but smiles and tears for him and I was a mess. One thing, I saw not one bad word was spoken about him. Everyone loved him and missed him. I realized that he is the type of man I wanna be like. I said to myself that every year on my birthday, I would reflect on him and what he did. I want to give my all to the ones I love. I want to be warm and friendly to those around me. You never know what struggles one may have and that one smile or laugh may lift their spirits. As much as I can help it, I want to bring joy to those around me. I want to be there for anyone who needs because a open ear may not cost much to me but make a world of difference to the one speaking. I also believe that the experiences you have are important and things may happen and you are gone. But i hope that if I pass before people I know, they will say he was an amazing man and made a difference. He made me better, happy or whatever positive adjective. 

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