By Tony Hooker
I once saw a photo on Facebook of a group of friends, with the caption saying something about none of them ever knowing when they would gather as a group for the last time, and upon hearing of the loss of a friend this weekend, I am reminded of it. None of us know when that final meeting will be.
For Tammy and me, it was on Thursday morning, when I stopped by her store and gave her a hard time about never having a certain food item in stock when I wanted it. We bantered back and forth for a few seconds, and then she ‘threw me out’ of the store for the hundredth time, always with that wonderful mischievous smile on her face.
Over and over again this weekend, I’ve heard different versions of the same story. She was always giving and taking grief to her customers, always with a knowing smirk.
According to her close friends and family members, her gruff façade covered up a true heart of gold, and it was apparent to virtually everyone who came into contact with her.
We were friends, in the way that most folks who grew up and went to school together in a small town are friends. We lived a block apart in high school and for the past couple of decades, about four blocks separated our dwellings. We didn’t hang out together, but we would never fail to speak whenever we met, usually at the Casey’s store that she managed. Most of the time, I would purposefully say something that would earn me “the stare”, which was probably a lot more intimidating to her kids than to someone who had known her since our early teens. I would usually keep it up until she kicked me out, hiding her smile all the while. These little moments are what I’ll miss, for sure.
It seems like every town has someone like her. Sassy and sweet. Someone that all the farmers and truckers could give a hard time to, all the while expecting to get it right back. Somehow VG will move forward but going to Casey’s won’t be the same for us. She was one of us and we, I, will miss her.
Condolences to her family. I know that my grief is a pale imitation of the pain they’re going through. Her kids and grandkids are her lasting legacy, and I think she would be comfortable with that. RIP, Tam.