I've spent a lot of time crying today. And I'm not a crier. But I'm heartbroken. And the weird thing is, it's because of the unexpected death of someone I never met in person. I feel funny about that, but don't seem to be able to do anything about it.
Years ago, when my daughter lived in Baltimore, I got attached to a small conservative Baltimore talk station, WCBM. While it offers syndicated shows like Limbaugh and Hannity, I much prefer the in-house crew, who are smart, witty, and well informed. Sean and Frank come on too early for me to catch their whole show except through podcast, but every morning, Monday through Friday, Tom Marr came along with me from 9 until noon no matter what I was doing. Tom was passionate and knowledgable, always curteous (although if YOU weren't you'd walk the plank), a proud American, a former Marine, who started every show with John Wayne's version of the Pledge of Alligiance. And he seemed to be a genuinely nice guy, a very, very good person. He was the friend who came to chat each day on a variety of subjects both local and national. I disagreed with him sometimes. I yelled at the radio because of that sometimes. And although I never called in, despite him saying on air that he wished I would, I e-mailed him regularly. I sometimes had to laugh when I'd fire off an e-mail when I was angry about something and he'd get through part of it on air, pause, say "...and I can't read this part on the air..." and then would read the less profane parts. I respected him greatly and he made me proud when he would say "You've hit a home run with that one!"
And then there was his way of singing "Happy Birthday" to people. I forgot to ask him to do that for me last year.
Folks who listen to Mark Levin have heard him sit in for Levin. They were good friends despite some big political differences.
Tom went in for back surgery for a pinched nerve last week. On Sunday he suffered a massive stroke. And today, when I heard a bit of stumbling in the background as his fill-in was on the air, and I heard Frank break in for an announcement, my heart sank. Tom died at 10:36 this morning.
I feel a bit odd grieving so much for someone I never really knew. My comfort in that being that although WCBM is a small station the miracle of technology and streaming led to him having a fan base all over the world. And it's a family station. Part of my grief is also for his WCBM family.
Rest in peace, Tom. And Semper Fi, Marine.