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Tom Friendly, A Fantasy

Elizabeth Boardman
On Neighbors (September 2019)
Healing the World

On Monday night, I went to bed fretting about how very little we old people in retirement communities are able to do about all the problems of this world.

On Tuesday morning, before I fully woke (was I still dreaming?), I began to imagine a man called Tom Friendly, and I was comforted.

In my mind’s eye, Tom works hard to promote low-carbon public transportation systems, the way our Steve B. does. Tom refuses to pay war taxes voluntarily, like Ruth. He serves on the board of a homeless shelter like Kay, and helps new immigrant refugees the way Marianne does.

Tom participates in a peace vigil every week, like Betsy, and sends substantial contributions to the Friends Committee on National Legislation along with Marie. Like Barbara, he is a supporter of the UN Association, and works diligently on the Indivisible postcard get-out-the-vote project with Harriet and Joanie.

Tom Friendly goes to meetings of the Citizen Climate Lobby with Ruth and Sue. He often attends the Veterans Writers’ group with Clare. Like Hubert, he prepares advocacy letters to our local legislators that others here can sign. Tom is part of the team Margaret leads to raise funds for the Guatemala scholarship project. Like Steve S, he has made a volunteer trip to the Texas border to work with immigrants there.

About the only thing Tom doesn’t do around here is make quilts for the MediCal babies in local hospitals, the way Charlotte does.

I knew I would remember more of his involvements in the morning. I think, like me, Tom belongs to 350.org and the Union of Concerned Scientists. I began thinking I might write about Tom for our Friday newsletter or perhaps for Western Friend.

But just as I was waking up, a voice told me that Tom had unexpectedly died in the night. I opened my eyes in dismay and confusion. Oh. Was Tom real? Oh. Was I dreaming? Oh. Are we really so helpless in our old age?

I had a cup of coffee and settled down to write a letter to the editor of my local paper – about the situation in Yemen. Tom would have approved.  ~~~

Elizabeth Boardman lives at Friends House, a Quaker retirement community in Santa Rosa, and is a member of the Worship Group there. She often writes about Quaker faith and practice.

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