Tammy Thomas Garnes

Things That Warm Me…

In Uncategorized on January 19, 2009 at 4:15 am


There is a winter scarf that hangs in my closet.  It’s not much to look at, just a camel colored wool, mens scarf.  It doesn’t really belong to me and it doesn’t belong to my husband either, but it was the last thing I packed in my stuffed suitcase before heading to Washington D.C. for the inauguration.  

If you’ve ever made a major move in your life, from one state to another or further, you’ll know how hard it can be to re-build what I like to call, a “friend base.”  You know what I’m talking about, a solid group of people who have your back and you have theirs.  Girlfriends and couples who have similar values and goals, who you can entrust your kiddies to for the evening so that you can have a date night or sometimes just sit and catch your breath.  When our family made that kind of sudden move 2-plus years ago, our primary concern, like most parents, was the need to create an easy transition for our children.  We visited our new city, toured schools, and found ourselves in the classroom of a dynamic, award winning young teacher, unlike anyone we had ever seen.

Kids were jumping on chairs and reciting “Kung Fu Phonics” while he waved his arms from side to side, proving to my husband and I that he was obviously their fearless leader.  We were so smitten, that we begged to have our oldest child placed into his first grade class and thankfully our wish was granted.  With my husband working countless hours at his new job, I found myself volunteering more than ever at this new school.  My 2 year old in tow, I put up bulletin boards, stuffed homework folders and read to children on a daily basis.  I needed something to do until I went back to work and he needed the help.  It was a great fit.

As time went by, our families became friends.  He talked constantly about his family….his wife….his children…his siblings and mother.  The only other thing he seemed to be as passionate about, was politics.  Kennedy was his hero and the conspiracy surrounding his death consumed his spare time.  He was also a fan of Barack Obama BEFORE it became cool to be so, and would talk to anyone who would listen about the “new book he was reading by this really cool brother who was about to do some things.”  

So when we received the phone call one year ago saying that our friend, our child’s teacher….that he had been killed by a random bullet, our family was crushed.  How do you tell your 7 year old that the one “fast friend” that she had made, her teacher, has been murdered.

It’s amazing how you can feel both empty and heavy at the same time.

My husband cried.  Something I’d never seen him do before during the 13 years I had known him.  And over the past 12 months, just when I think I’m going to make it thru a week without thinking about him…something happens to trigger a memory.  These days the memories make me laugh, more than they make me tear up, and I guess that’s what people mean when they say “time heals.”  His wife is my friend, and when I see her I see strength and beauty…the kind I pray I would have if I ever found myself in her shoes.

So as I rushed to pack my last suitcase I saw that scarf.  The one that Mr. Coleman had left at our house one day when he picked up his daughter after a sleepover.  I had always meant to give it back, but it hung in the back of our coat closet until spring came and deemed it unusable.  January 20th is the date for a historical inauguration, but it’s also the one year anniversary of Mr. Coleman’s death.  I was wondering how I would feel about this day. I’ve never lost a close friend before and thus never have had to think about them a year later.  So I just grabbed that scarf.  If anyone needed to be here to witness Obama’s taking of the oath, it would have been Mr. Coleman.  He would have talked about it for month’s leading up to the event. He would have driven everyone crazy with his plans to drive his family to DC.  He would have been himself….always passionate and always the educator, even when school was out.

So tomorrow, as I stand with my husband and fight back the bitter cold, I’ll have so many thoughts.  Big thoughts about the direction in which our country is headed and personal thoughts about friendship and legacies .  Each tug at that scarf will be a reminder of how each of us has a duty to seek out a cause greater than ourselves and leave behind our own legacy of warmth and love.

RIP Antonio.  You are missed.

  1. What a sad story! But, so glad that he was able to be there in spirit with you.

  2. girl. powerful. i always felt like i knew him or…maybe he was a figment of your imagination–you know, too good to be true.

    i’m glad your memories bring a smile to your face. he seems like someone who would want that.


  3. Beautiful Tammy. Now Mr. Coleman is with me too. A cause greater than one’s self…so true.

  4. WOW! Tammy that was powerful. Beautifully written.

  5. Thanks mama Lisa. I’ll be adding your RSS feed to the blog later today.

  6. Awww Taj, thanks for the love!

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