• The constancy of Tom Hanks

    by Donald K. Sanders

    I’m a Tom Hanks fan. I have been since the beginning of his acting career in Bosom Buddies, even though I thought it was weird that he had to dress up like a woman. Tom Hanks made me laugh at a time when I didn’t have much to laugh about — I’m grateful for that. Even way back then, it was easy to see what an immense talent Hanks was. I think everyone knew that he was destined for greatness. I’ll explain why I mention Tom Hanks in a few moments.

    From early childhood I lived in a temporary world. I say this because everything that I ever knew and loved was eventually taken from me, and most never returned. Living in a temporary world teaches you a great many things that normal people, in a normal family life never learn.

    Normal people live in a world of constants. They live their entire childhood in the same house with the same family members. They grow up with the same neighbors and the same friends on the same streets that they knew the first time they were allowed to wander down the block as small children. Normal people develop normal support systems so if a problem arises in their lives they have learned where to go and who to talk to that will help them solve problems.

    People with a normal childhood have someone to go to if they want something, and someone to go to if they don’t feel good. They have someone to go to for everything or anything. They go to high school with the same kids they went to grade school with. As adults they go to a tavern and see the same people that lived on their block or played baseball on the other team. Constant.

    Economic status has no effect upon normal people other than bigger and better toys, and everything else is exactly the same for the poor as it is for the rich. Family and peer groups are as constant with one group as it is with the other. Normal people move around freely from group to group through sports, dances, and other interactions so one group knows others and they become normal as well. One child will know another child from across town because their parents work together and socialize frequently. It’s all very normal for normal people.

    Then you have people like me who have known nothing but temporary, so they expect temporary friends, temporary homes, temporary everything. Temporary love does not exist as love, it exists as an ache. This ache is the only constant in a temporary person’s life. The ache is always there, sticking its head out of the hole where your friends or loved ones should be but are not.

    My brother Michael, two years my junior, is also a temporary person with his own temporary world, apart from mine. In a temporary world, brothers are just someone you might bump into that you may recognize as someone familiar. You really don’t know them and they don’t know you. You are brothers and that’s all there is. I mean, my brother couldn’t brag about how well his brother played baseball because neither one of us knew how. We never played baseball. We never went hiking. We never went fishing.

    We never ate meals together unless our mother came to visit us at the temporary orphanage. Even her visits were temporary, for they stopped after a while.

    I knew that I had other brothers and even a sister, but they were temporary as well and I didn’t even know where they were or if they were even alive. Even the stars above were temporary and at times years would pass between times when I would see them, one to the next. I had to run away from the orphanage and live on the streets in order to really enjoy the stars.

    As a young adult my experience in the Republic of Vietnam also had a profound effect on my temporary heart. It is there that I learned that even life itself is temporary. This revelation changed only one thing for me. It changed the one thing, the single thing that was a constant in my life: the ache. The ache became unbearable and at times I wanted to end my temporary life. That was temporary too.

    Anyway, back to Tom Hanks. I don’t have to exaggerate one bit to make the statement that this actor has been a part of my life longer than love, or friendship, or family. I see my brother Michael every month or so but I seem to see Tom Hanks every single day. That’s it. That’s what I wanted to say. I want to say that it’s a shame that (no offense Tom) Tom Hanks is more of a constant in my life than my own brother. I find that very strange.

      • Judy N

      • March 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm
      • Reply

      Donald, This was beautiful and very moving. What you say about temporary lives seems very true to me, achingly true. Just an excellent piece.

    • Your name came up today among my friends as they has read your tribute to my visit to Winters. Of course they were confused by some of it because they don’t understand you and I do (well most of the time, I don’t) but I try. Anyway, this piece today is so filled with soulfulness my heart ached for you. Then I realized you survived all of it and can still find peace and that makes me so happy. I can’t wait to meet you and spend some time talking to you face to face. I really like you.

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