August 23, 2023
Today I find myself remembering my friend, Tom. He was a general contractor in Rome, GA and eventually found his way into the fellowship of my church after a minor earthquake separated my chimney from the house and we retained him for the repairs. Subsequently, as often happens, we decided to renovate the kitchen as long as he and his team were there. We struck up a quick friendship and became somewhat inseparable as time went on.
Tom and his family were members of the old First Presbyterian Church in Rome but made a quiet exit when it left the denomination for a more conservative group. He never was one to make a fuss, but simply disappeared when things became, to his mind, intolerable. Some days I pray that his tribe might increase.
The time came for the addition of a new facility to the church campus. Tom, naturally, volunteered his services as a consultant and was there pretty much daily to confer with the contractor and even contribute the use of his folk and machines when needed. For Tom, there were very few of life’s problems that could not be addressed with heavy equipment, skilled labor, and a go-get-‘em attitude.
Inevitably, there were hiccups in the construction. Cost overruns resulted in what Tom called “value engineering.” His way of cutting the overruns without compromising the quality. Our General Contractor wailed but the work proceeded. Thanks largely to Tom, it came in on time and actually under budget.
Of course, there were a few conflicts toward the end. Some of the good folk could not agree on how the carpet should be laid. Others thought that the conference table and chairs in the Session meeting room were a bit too opulent, despite the fact that they had been donated.
In a fit of exasperation, Tom showed up at a Session meeting and asked, “What is this place worth; the whole damn thing? A round figure will do.” The Treasurer thought for a moment and replied, “About $1.7 million. Why?”
“Cause I’m going to buy the place, bulldoze it and build a cemetery for the Living Dead.”
This, naturally, put things into perspective for all concerned. The issues were resolved and life went on.
Tom passed away a few years later. I visited him a few days before his departure. I asked him if he had any words for his church family. He said simply, “Tell them whenever they get into another scrap that my offer still stands!”
I bid you peace!