Writing 101 Assignment – Day Six: A character-building experience

TomWriting 101 Assignment

Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.

My twist to todays assignment is that I lost one of the most interesting people in 2014!

I first met Tom at a body corporate meeting for our group of townhouses that we both lived in, and which I had recently moved to.

He was about 75 I think at the time and was an avid photographer. He had catalogued all his old photos onto a computer and wanted to show me his expertise.  He was very proud of his extensive knowledge of the computer.  He invited me over to his house after the meeting to look at photos, which sounded like a common pick up line but of course Tom was a gentleman!

This invitation was the start of a wonderful friendship that lasted about seven years.

During many of our talks over a ‘cuppa’ Tom often spoke of his past experiences in life.  He had a twinkle in his eye, the driest wit and such a positive attitude about everything.  He was a short man, with a squarish shaped face courtesy of his Russian-Chinese heritage.  He had the slightest accent but was Australian through and through.  He had even changed his name to a more Anglo, easily pronounced name.  I always remember him smiling and saying “oh well” anytime a problem came up.  He wasn’t easily rattled.

You knew when he was about to say something humorous, one corner of his mouth would curve up and his eyes would narrow and the creases around them would animate his face so much as if to warn you of what was to come.

He was born in the south of Russia quite near the Chinese border.  When the sino-soviet conflict of 1929 broke out in that area he and his family fled to Singapore to escape persecution.   Unfortunately war was to follow him on his journey through life as yet again during the fall of Singapore to the Germans in 1939, he was separated from his family as an 11 year old boy and had to survive on his own for the duration of that war.  When he eventually met up with his family again the dynamics had changed, as he was not the same young boy as he was, he was now an independent, self-sufficient teenager.

They then moved to Australia and settled in Brisbane.  He pursued a career in administration and afforded a job as payroll administrator in New Guinea for an importing/exporting business.   This is where he met his wife and raised three children until they moved back to Queensland but this time to the Gold Coast.

Throughout his life, Tom loved to travel and went with his beloved wife on many a trip until life took another spin and he lost his wife to cancer.

This is when I met him, after he had downsized his home and moved into a smaller villa.  He was a handyman and anytime I needed a nail hammered or a shelf put in, Tom was there.  Some things I could do myself but I deferred to Tom as it made him feel needed and proud that he could contribute to helping me in my life.

Even with his bout of cancer, his humour and resilience didn’t fade one bit.  When he had to have a colostomy he wanted to show me!!! He took everything as it came and wasn’t fazed one bit, he was only disappointed that he couldn’t travel anymore.

They breed them tough in Russia, with Tom surviving a ruptured aneurysm and emergency surgery at 79 years of age.

Unfortunately his nine lives had run out when he turned 81 and the cancer had returned.  He went to live with his son and we didn’t really catch up as much as before.  One day when his son was away he was left in the care of his sons’ partner, who was out at the time, and he passed away by himself without anyone to hold his hand.

No funeral was given to celebrate this fascinating and vital life.  We all had to mourn in our own way quietly, when I wanted to scream.

I will never forget you Tom; you were one of a kind!

Categories: Blogging AssignmentsTags: ,


  1. Wow, what an amazing life story, and how extraordinary not to have a funeral! How sad the end, but how wonderful you did have that friendship. So sorry for the loss of your friend, Karen.


  2. (And this is a wonderful tribute to his life.)


    • Thanks. Yes he did have an extraordinary life but unfortunately ordinary children, I think who should have done more and given him a send off… but it is how it is. That’s life and I was lucky to have known him and now he is at peace. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve painted a lovely picture, a fitting memorial to your friendship.


  4. Well -written about your long-time friend. I understand how you miss him. Today’s exercise made us first think about newly meet people, but of course one usually writes better about an old friend.


    • Thank you Emma. Unfortunately I haven’t met anyone interestingly new of late so wasn’t going to write anything at all then thought about Tom and how fascinating his life was and wanted to pay tribute. I did break the rules somewhat 😉


  5. This is really well done and an amazing tribute to Tom’s life. I’m sure he would be smiling if he could read this. The details and anecdotes you include provide a full portrait of a man who seemed embrace life with arms wide open. You are a great writer! 🙂
    PS…how did he catalog his photos?


    • Wow Thanks A. I hoped to at least convey part of who he was. I appreciate your comments.

      He only put his photo in different folders either under dates and months or places he had visited. He called that categorising. He didn’t do anything fancy like use Flickr or such but was proud of what he knew he could do.


  6. Friends come and go in life but their footprints stay with us. Wonderful writing about Tom. Thank you for sharing!


  7. Lovely story…it is good you had a chance to be his friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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