We’re the Same
Tom Westbrook was one of my heroes. He was a great believer in humanity and the central tenet of his faith was “we are all the same”. He said it often, he even once whispered it while standing next to me at a large gathering. Once a month Tom hosted what he called Haircut Sunday. He invited a barber and interested persons from any political party, race or religion to gather at his house for a haircut and to talk. Talk about their love for their kids, their community, their commonality. Things they shared, rather than things that separated them. Each Fourth of July he gathered people for what he named Freedom in the Arboretum, an event open to anyone. There in the middle of things he would stand, wearing a straw boater hat and red and white striped pants with suspenders, welcoming everyone. He would gather all the kids and willingly play King George to these miniature colonists, allowing them to officially depose and carry him away in a wagon. Then everybody shared in a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Several years ago while still very much living, he conducted a funeral wake for himself — complete with a lively Dixieland Jazz Band — so he could hear what people said about him while still able to appreciate it. Tom died last year. I miss him and his indomitable spirit. I’ve been thinking of him a lot lately because there seems to be so much divisiveness in the world and I believe that he was correct — we are all the same.