Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Sad-Happy Day

In Memoriam
Tom Stratman
May 16, 1939 - August 6, 2008
Teacher, philosopher, poet, musician, friend.

A gentle, wonderful man, an inspiration to many.

Tom died this morning, listening to Bach's Magnificat. Joanna and Rebecca were with him, to help send him on his eagerly anticipated journey to heaven.


ewn said...

Dear Joanna: Michael passed this on to me. Thank you so much for this beautiful tribute. He is much on my mind today and I want to believe that he is close by, and will be in the future.

When I entered RCIA about 11 years ago I saw Tom and knew immediately and intuitively that he was the person who was the only person I might feel 'matched' with. In spite of the custom that RCIA teachers did not serve as sponsors, he bent the rule and took me on, always being with me, listening (he was a wise and compassionate listener), understanding some of the difficult choices I had to make in my 'ongoing conversion', giving me advice but always encouraging me to do what I felt the Holy Spirit meant for me to do, however 'off-track' it might seem to others. He accepted wholeheartedly the contradictions in me; what greater gift can one ask from a spiritual friend.

We shared a love of poetry and music. I knew him as a gifted composer and attended the performance of one of his compositions at the Blessed Sacrament.

He visited my and Michael's home, not often enough I regret now. He loved children; he enjoyed playing with my grandchildren Carl, Erin and Roy-Roy and he enjoyed good food, dinner parties, wine and good conversation.

I remember once he brought in his art notebooks and journals to coffee hour. He was always open about and generous with updates of his own spiritual growth.

We had similar tastes in poetry and he gave me his poetry books which I shall cherish. I'll think of him when I open his Gerard Manley Hopkins, his Rumi, his copies of the German and French poets, his Walt Whitman....

And don't we always have wishes about what we might have shared or talked about with people we love who are gone from us, in this life anyway. I shall miss him.

His greatest legacy to me, however, is showing me that one doesn't have to "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" but can move gently forward into the night, showing others how dying can be 'done'.

He has given us all a 'deep peace' in his dying.

Elizabeth Winder

FugueStateKnits said...

Joanna - there are never adequate words but my fondest hope is that Our dear Lord surround you with His all-encompassing love as you move to the next point in your lives. My prayers are still with you.

Matt Zemek said...


Thanks for creating this space, and even more thanks for taking such good care of Tom in the final leg of his earthly journey. He couldn't have had a better, more empathic presence by his side.

Thank you so much!

Ever Gratefully,
Matt Zemek

Anonymous said...

JoAnna, God Bless you for helping Tom through to the otherside, for being is friend, and sharing your posts. I haven't seen Tom since he left Racine and always looked forward to his post holiday letters. I am glad he has peace now.

christopher said...

thank you

Samos said...

Joanna, you are so wonderful to have provided such a warm and loving exit for Tom in your home. The pictures you've posted of him are really great. I wish I could go back in time and get to know him a better - it seems I mostly only saw him briefly during holidays, or on his in town sleep-overs after choir. I love you so much! You're such an angel... Hope we can have lunch together soon.

Knitman said...

What a wonderful thing you did for Tom. I am as certain as I can be that our consciousness survives and that Tom, released from his physical body and world, is now free, at peace and looking on you all with love.

Jen said...

Joann - Tom was so blessed to have you by his side. I remember him fondly from when I first joined the RCIA several years ago. He was full of so much wisdom and kindness - his smile would brighten up any room. He was one of my favorite teachers and I looked forward to the classes when he would share his personal thoughts with us all. I am also very proud that I was able to sing many of his wonderful compositions in the Schola. The Magnificat that he composed is one of my all time favorites. Everytime the Schola sings it I get goosebumps and tears fill my eyes. He had a true talent - with his music one could feel the Holy Spirit and his songs touched my soul deeply. These compositions will now take on a new meaning to me - and be all the more precious.
Again I give my thanks to you and Rebecca for being there for Tom. You were a shining light for him and it is so wonderful that you were able to help him on his path to our Lord. God bless you Joann. My prayers are with you.
Much love,
Jen Kern