Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tom Hargus

Tom Hargus, one of my dad's dearest friends, passed away July 27. He was one of The Kitties' biggest fans.

Tom, in 2004, deciding....
Tom lived in Little Rock, Arkansas, with his wife Cecilia. In 2008, Dad handed me the phone, and Tom asked me if he could buy some of my illustrations. All secured in bound sketchbooks, it hadn't occurred to me to sell any of them. After a few weeks of continuous praise and reminders that I had a buyer-in-waiting, I got back in touch with him through e-mail.

I explained that my drawing hobby began through Illustration Friday, a Web site that offers a single word each week to serve as an artist's inspiration. I suggested that he give me a word or topic, and I could draw something for him.

After a week or so of silence, I received quite a response. In his lengthy e-mail, he described July 20, 1969. For all of us, he said, it was one of those Golden Moments in time that you knew was a Golden Moment as it was happening. A barbecue among Navy buddies--Tom, Dennis (Dad), Joe, Richard, and Ray--it marked a special time in their lives. On this landmark day for space exploration, the end of their military tours was approaching and the excitement of reunions and impending marriages was stirring. This celebration marked new beginnings in world history and among a few friends. Or, in another light, "It was a party on a nice day with really good food and lots of beer."

With that, Tom became the first to commission a piece of art from me, and I got to work. Throughout the process, he and Dad provided me with the details: Richard and his wife, Emily, hosted the party at their home in the Philippines. Tom, his then-girlfriend Cecilia, and his three other friends, Ray, Joe, and Dennis, arrived by afternoon. Dad described the exterior of the house and the rickety fence, the layout of the yard, and the gravely road next to it. Their friend, Ray, who was slightly older and more studious, wore round glasses and was typically reading. Joe spent the evening leaning against the fence, staring dreamingly at the moon, a round pie in the sky sliced in half. San Miquel was the beer of choice.

My final question to Tom, "What cat do you want to be?" He noted that he'd always been partial to Siamese cats, which made Simon very proud.

July 20, 1969

My first client was extremely happy with the result, to my great relief! While Tom got the original, his friends received copies.

Since then, Tom stayed in touch, mainly commenting on various illustrations by e-mail. He sent me a book on yoga and meditation when he found out I practiced. Each Christmas, we wished each other happy holidays over the phone. Most recently, Tom and I became Facebook friends, and it was there that I last heard from him. On July 3, we talked about the all-important schedule for the day on Turner Classic Movies: "A Gene Kelly triple-feature!" I announced. "Capped off by Meet Me in St. Louis and The Wizard of Oz," Tom added. "Not a bad day."

Tom, you are missed and our thoughts are with your family. Hopefully, some of my Kitties are keeping you company.


Kathryn said...

A beautiful tribute. He sounds like he was a very kind soul.

AnastasiaC said...

such a lovely post - he seems like such a nice man...may he rest in peace.