Saying Goodbye— A Tribute to Tom Youtes

As I sit here, reflecting on the year which passed, 2010… I cannot help but think about a very old friend who passed away in 2010 without my knowledge. As life moves so fast— we barely blink before we inevitably stop to realize that perhaps we simply “lost touch” with a number of people… for a number of reasons some of which are simply the result of the evolution we all face from decade to decade. I was in my early 20s when my mother’s trucking company was in full swing. I was still going to college when I took a job at The Beaver Valley Power Station Unit II Phase. It was a union job and I was inducted into The Teamsters Union with very little fan fare. To me, it was a card that stated I was qualified to drive a pick-up truck filled with those huge water coolers you see on the sidelines at football games filled with Gatorade.

You see, the plant was still being built and they hadn’t installed a water system so it was our job to see that everyone had drinking water. I drove and the two guys who rode next to me carried the water from the truck to each location. It wasn’t exactly quantum physics and we usually finished up our entire route before our lunch break. John Fattore and Tom Youtes became my partners in a quest to avoid boredom at all costs and find amusement at every turn. We read the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Bloom County was our favorite strip… and we ALL (every single person employed there), did the Crossword Puzzle of the day. Boring stuff right? Wrong.

You see, Tom, John and I were Masters at the art of finding a plethora of ways to keep ourselves partially sane and randomly amused. I brought in sketch pads and writing paper to “capture” the fascinating in what others might not have noticed. I also brought a small television set that plugged into the truck lighter outlet and every afternoon the three of us would watch Days of Our Lives and come up with our own scenarios which would have made Salem far more entertaining than it ever was. It was the early 80’s and we were all finding our way into adulthood as we created as much anarchy and mischief as humanly possible. We found so many ways to escape the job site and party at the small taverns in the nearby town of Midland, PA. We were the misfits, the outlaws… the water crew that no one was ever able to locate or capture. We’d spike the water with lemonade and vodka during the holidays…

We played poker with the electricians and convinced the carpenters to build us whatever we needed in return for playing their numbers and taking their bets to the “bookies” who we would give cases of the whiskey (meant for the engineers and top plant executives) that we would find no matter where they hid it. We ran football pools and card games. We even had our own kitchen hidden away where we’d cook Italian pasta, sausage and drink home made wine. We never really saw it as work even though we were being paid rather well to show up.

We shared holidays together, got each other through tough times… When Tom’s wife had a miscarriage and lost his daughter Sonya, he was devastated. John and I took up a collection to help with the funeral expenses. It was a time in our lives like no other. My college friends welcomed “The Water Crew” and we spent time going to both college and pro football games together. The Beaver Valley Power Station Unit II Phase was our playground and we rode the wave until I finished up college and moved on. But Tom and John and I still hung out together, going to college parties, football games, pro wrestling shows and partying with guys like hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper who we found at the bars near the old Pittsburgh Airport after the shows.

But as time went on, we saw less and less of each other. I ran into Tom in early 1992 and we went to his favorite bar, shared drinks and laughed about all of the shenanigans we were actually able to get away with on the job site. It was so good to see him. He was married again and he looked so happy. He also mentioned his dog, a black lab who went everywhere with Tom, had passed away and that he missed him terribly. We talked until the bar closed and as we left I hugged him very tightly and we both promised to get together again at some point. I had no idea that I would never see Tom again.

When I heard (via another dear friend) that Tom had died, I thought about all of the things I didn’t say. But then I realized that even though I hadn’t said everything I wanted to say to Tom… it was okay. People lose touch… and more than often it isn’t because we don’t care, it just happens. One of Tom’s favorite films was “The Big Chill”; it’s still one of mine. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the storyline is: “A group of seven former college friends gather for a weekend reunion at a posh South Carolina winter house after the funeral of one of their friends.”  The storyline of The Big Chill is strong, and one that is easy to relate to as an adult. Who doesn’t wonder if their lives have gone in different directions than we originally intended? Who doesn’t see the irony in choices we have made throughout our lives? I know that I do.

I miss Tom. I will always miss Tom. But I also feel so very fortunate to have known him at a time in my life when we all felt immortal… Everything has an end, we all know that. Death is a natural end. It is something that we all know is going to happen, there is really no way around it. It is a part of the entire cycle.

Thomas R. “Youdiee” Youtes, Jr., 50, of Monaca, passed away Monday, September 6th, 2010, due to a recurring bout with cancer. Born on June 27th, 1960, in Aliquippa, he was a son of Thomas R. Sr. and Doris J. Youtes. Tom was a construction worker and a member of the Laborers Union Number 833. He was also a member of the American Legion Post Number 580. Tom was preceded in death by a seven-month-old daughter, Sonya Vonne Youtes. Surviving are his wife, Laurene Muzic Youtes; his parents, Tom and Doris; a son, Bryan Youtes in Florida; a daughter, Jestynne Youtes of Ellwood City; a stepdaughter, Johnna (Todd) Haller of New Brighton; a granddaughter, Taelor of Ellwood City, and two sisters; Suzanne (Bobby) Hunt of Monaca and Kristin (Jack) Hurley of Monaca.

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~ by upbeatmag on March 31, 2011.

7 Responses to “Saying Goodbye— A Tribute to Tom Youtes”

  1. I enjoyed reading your fond memory of our son, Tom. Many of the things you talked about had a familiar ring to it. soap opera’s, crossword puzzles, the Hulk; that was Tom. Miss him much. Tom’s daughter Jessey found your tribute to Tom and passed it on to Tom’s sister Kris, and from there it made it’s way to his Mom. Thank You for your recollection of the past – it was nice to hear.

    • Thank you so much Doris. Tom was a dear friend. I still miss him. I’ve discovered (after I lost my grandmother, who was in my life every single day for 41 years) that… sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems to be an unfilled “void”. There’s a quote by Kahlil Gibran, from a book that Tom suggested that I read, he always mentioned that he enjoyed reading as it was much more enjoyable because he was able to use his mind to visualize… The quote was this… “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” —Kahlil Gibran

      Tom was a friend to so many— but he never allowed his inherent “wisdom” to dominate or overshadow anyone he knew. He was a student of life… and he understood what it meant without having to use his extensive knowledge of it all. We were all blessed by his friendship, which never wavered. Tom lived his life in his own terms, which is more than most can ever say.

  2. Isn’t it strange that this should be the day I learned of your tribute to Tom. And this just happens to be the day that Tom’s little girl, Sonya, died twenty-eight years ago on August 10th, 1983.
    Doris Youtes

  3. I leave you with one more comment regarding my son, Tom, …and it’s a big one. Tom’s whole adult life has been one of heartache and pain as seen from the eyes of his mother….but I’ve never known him to talk about it. He came to me once with these words: “Mom, everyone I love is being taken away from me.” (in death) and so he seemed to withdraw, disconnect himself from his family in later years.

    In 1983, at the death of Sonya, the Lord spoke to my heart: “Grandma, in MY perfect timing, this life will represent “The Rebirth of a Nation.” And then God called me to write the story of “The Fallen Church of America.” At Tom’s death the story was finally finished.

    During the past 20 years hundreds of letters were sent out to elite Christian leaders all over this country with bits and pieces of the story, puzzle pieces that would one day come together and build a big picture of what America has become. No one has the whole story …but Grandma.

    “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit.” (John 12:24)

    My first vision into the story came during Sonya’s two weeks of fighting for life in Children’s Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA. Feeling exhausted from hours at the hospital, I went home for a little rest. As I lay on my bed a vision came before me. 3 times it came. I recognized instantly that it lined up with how the Lord spoke to Peter in a vision 3 times in the Bible. (Acts 11:5-10)

    In my vision I saw a picture of our son, Tom, at about 5 yrs of age. 3 times his face came before me. It would start very small a couple feet away from me and become larger and larger as it came closer and closer. Then it would disappear and repeat itself over again. 3 times his face came before me in the same way.

    I didn’t understand the vision 28 yrs ago, but over the years it was made very clear to me that the life of my son would weave in and out of the story I was called to write. The Lord spoke to me: Don’t pray for your son anymore. You write the story as I ask, and I will take care of your son. Little did I know that at the finish of the story, my son would be taken, and the church in America would be ready to fall in its morals and values…. just as God spoke to me 28 years ago. The timing is now for Grandma’s Newsroom to carry this HUGE story. Every Christian leader I went to over 20 years refused the story; 9 of them were from Cornerstone TeleVision, Channel 40, Pittsburgh, PA. And those 9 are no longer with us. Should I name them for you?

    No one can stop the story the Lord called me to write. Many have tried, but the story is as strong as ever. It’s unstoppable! Why? Because God is in it. My son gave his life that others might live— and the timing of finding your tribute to Tom is all in God’s perfect timing. The church refused my story, and God is taking it to the streets. Maybe even the internet. He loves the whole world. He is not confined to a church. He is EVERYWHERE! The story is HUGE!!!!

    You have a good day!
    Doris Youtes
    (alias Grandma)

    • “I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” —Ettiene De Grellet

      Doris… you have rendered me speechless. Your words come from the heart and soul of a mother and a grandmother.

      I worked at The Beaver Valley Power Station for 7 or 8 years. When you work side by side with another person each and every day (which was the case with Tom as well as our friend John Fattore), you begin to share a mutual understanding. You share that “common thread” which runs through each and every one of us.

      Tom and I had a number of conversations about life, family and the “truth” about human compassion… how it all seemed so lost amid the daily grind of life. When Tom’s daughter (your granddaughter) Sonya passed away. I was immediately compelled to try to so something… anything, that would allow Tom to know that people DO care. The gesture was one of compassion. I believe that compassion has become a metaphor for our purpose in this world. But too many simply ignore it or look for the “motive” which has been the result of an underlying cynicism that attempts to drown us all. This is the ongoing battle we face within ourselves.

      We cannot allow those who would prefer to watch the world burn to seep into our spiritual paths.

      There is no action or thought— that does not touch something or someone else on the thread of life. We are not autonomous individuals running around living disconnected lives. Everything ripples across the vast network in some way. What is even more fascinating to think about (to me at least) is that our actions not only impact the network of our current moment in time/space, but also are instantly extrapolated out across time/space. We live within a chain of existence.

      The ideal of direct experience is that nothing is ever the same: each moment is always new, unexplored, mysterious. The ideal of apperception is that everything is familiar and well-known; that even between people who have never met, there is a deeper bond uniting them as though instances of a single entity. Consider a universe full of mirrors, with a single light shining into all of them. On the one hand, since the angles of the mirror are different— and the effect is compounded by reflected reflections— one sees a rich universe filled with variety and complexity; on the other hand, since there is only light, all that is ever seen is that light— and to know the light well enough is to know the potential for its variation in the mirrors.

      Know this Doris… that I am praying for you and your family to find peace and solace in “knowing” that you are making a difference. I pray that your sorrow eases with time and the grace of your beliefs and your faith. You are a very special person. This is why your son and your granddaughter loved you… and still do.

  4. Continuing on with Tom’s story, I wanted to share something with you. Yesterday, September 6th, was the one year mark of Tom’s death. And yesterday I lost one of my very best friends (Marlene) to bone cancer.

    How ironic is it? Marlene and Tom were both given the same sentencing at the same time last year by the doctors. “There is nothing more we can do for you.” they were both told. The doctors had done all. Tom passed on
    9-6-10 in the night, and Marlene passed on 9-6-11 in the night.

    My child-like faith says …this was no coincidence. God has a plan. Life and death are in His hands….and my unusual story has begun. On July 31st my first newsletters went out as this story unfolds across America.

    I’m wondering how long it has been since your grandmother passed. So much is learned from “Grandma.” She loves unconditionally, she has time to listen, she has good advice, wisdom, and cares about her grandchildren a whole lot. She is there when busy parents are working and can’t seem to find the time in the day for everything that needs done. The grandchildren love to hear her stories of old. Oh how much they learn from grandma’s words; words that stick for a lifetime.

    Interestingly enough, Grandma’s Newsroom is the name of my newsletter and it is all written by Grandma, the whole story.

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