The Middle Man for My Life

It must have been about 10 years ago. It was spring, or summer, or one of those in between days that can’t decide which season it is. Regardless, it was a beautiful day.

My family and I were out in the Virginia country for a wedding. We took the minivan. Although us kids were becoming adults by this point, we still sat in the same positions we always had: Andrew and Emily in the captain seats in the middle row, me on the right side of the bucket seat in the back. I liked having my own space.

I was crying.

We had just attended the wedding of a friend of the family, the daughter of a couple that knew my parents from way back in their hippy days. I remember the reception but not the wedding. That and the weather.

Also, I remember meeting a man after the wedding in all the commotion after the newlyweds drove away. He introduced himself as Fr. Tom, and he said he knew my parents from way back in the day. He seemed very pleased to meet me, but I didn’t know why.

As we chatted, I noticed my parents watching from a few feet away. They didn’t join in the conversation–they just watched with expressions that I couldn’t place.

The reception was a short drive away, so we all piled into the minivan before long. Mom turned around from the passenger seat and said, “Jamey, do you know who that man was?”

I said, “Sure, he said his name was Fr. Tom.”

Mom nodded. “Do you remember him?”

Then it hit me. Fr. Tom. There’s only one Fr. Tom for me.

He was the man who facilitated my adoption. He was the man who heard my biological mother’s wish for me to go to a Catholic family. He was the man who knew my parents were considering adoption, and so he arranged the whole thing.

I hadn’t seen him since my parents picked me up in New York three days after I was born.

And so I cried.

Fr. Tom was the middle man for my life. He connected a little baby without a family to the boy that my parents would name Jamey. Baby Jamey, teenage Jamey, adult Jamey. Fr. Tom was the middle man between the most important event of my life–being born–and all the blessings that would follow.

I could type the word “grateful” a million times and it wouldn’t encapsulate the gratitude I feel for this man. In fact, simply due to the single act of connecting me to my parents, any e-mails I’ve received from Fr. Tom since that wedding have gone in the “family” folder in my e-mail inbox.

He died yesterday.

I got the news this morning. I knew he wasn’t in good health, but I hadn’t heard from him in over a year, so I didn’t know how bad it was. He was in good hands when he passed.

When I got the news, I didn’t know what to think or feel. Honestly, I didn’t think or feel much. Despite his significant impact on my life, I don’t know Fr. Tom well. And I knew he was sick–at least now he is no longer sick.

As I write this, though, the tears are flowing. Just like that short drive in the car after the wedding, the impact that Fr. Tom  had on my life is hitting me in full force. Similar to yesterday’s entry about my mind being unable to comprehend certain levels of beauty, it’s tough for my mind to comprehend what he did for me.

Fr. Tom, thank you for being the middle man for my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Have there been any important middle men/women in your life? People that provided a key connection between one stage and another? Perhaps a teacher who took the time to write a recommendation, or a friend who got you an interview at your dream job. Let’s celebrate the middle men today.

28 thoughts on “The Middle Man for My Life”

  1. THIS is why I’m going to China. If I can be even the smallest part of the wondrous act of mercy and love that is adoption, I consider myself blessed. I will probably never see the children I evaluate again, but just knowing that I was an instrument that brought them that much closer to their forever family means so much to me.

    Thanks for sharing this, Jamey.

  2. And now that I’ve finished reading your whole post … I never considered before just how much impact Fr. Tom had on my own life – and Kelly’s – even though I never knew him. You never know how far-reaching your choices (both good and bad) can be.

  3. Jamey, thank you for sharing how blessed you are to have had a man like Father Tom involved in your life and for matching you up with your parents.

    This post made me cry, and makes me wish that I had a person who stands out as such a pivotal middle man in my own life. My condolences to you on the loss of such an important person in your life.

    • Thanks, Katy–that means a lot to me. I think we all have pivotal middle men somewhere in our histories. Let me know if you think of yours.

      • The most pivotal middle man in my history is probably my step-dad. Since he and my mom married, his presence and influence have caused some major changes in my life and getting me to the place I am today. I am extremely grateful for the impact he’s had on me.

        • Katy–That’s awesome that you’re able to recognize the impact he’s had on your life. A toast to the middle men/women! 🙂

  4. Wow Jamey, powerful story! I had no idea you were adopted, but I’m so glad you have been blessed through the sacrifice your birth mother made. So sorry for your loss, you didn’t know the man very well in body but you definitely did in spirit. 🙂

  5. Fr. Tom had been a family friend for years. Like Jamey, I have shed alot of tears today for the man who took care of my little baby boy by finding THE right family for him when I could not give him the one thing that mattered to me most in the whole wide world – a 2-parent family. I, too, am adopted. So when I found out I was pregnant, I had no questions about giving my child up for adoption, just like I had no question about the intensity of the love I had (still have) for this child. I went to Father Tom – the middle man – and told him what I wanted him to do for me. With me. And he did. So today I re-lived that visit and that conversation and the many visits and Masses and times of laughter and buckets of tears I shared with Father Tom. He gave me peace. And BIG hugs. And HE was the one who forwarded Jamey’s first letter to me. He was – again – the Middle Man. My mother talked to him just last week She is 92. I believe he was 69). She said he was sounding much better – much more like himself. How ironic it is that I heard of his death from Jamey – Almost a Circle of Life. I, too, will be grateful to him forever – for having Jamey’s parents as HIS friends so that whenever I saw him he could smile and tell me that “my baby was ok”. Now Father Tom is Okay. He’s more than ok. He’s with God in Heaven. And just as he was an angel for me 32 years ago – giving me peace of mind as I did what I knew was right – he, I am sure, will continue to be an angel for all those he touched during his all-too-brief life. Thank you, Father Tom, for being a friend to my parents, a friend to Jamey’s parents and for helping me through THE most difficult thing I have or will ever have to go through in my entire life. Be happy with God.

    • I am deeply moved, Mary Ellen. Thank you for allowing us to read this small piece of personal history and sharing your joy.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mary Ellen. You make a good point that Fr. Tom continued to be the middle man for our letters for many years (before e-mail took over).He was a special man, and I’m thankful for the peace he gave both of us (and my parents).

  6. Jamey, I am sorry to hear of your loss. Even though you may not have known Fr. Tom that well personally, he clearly had a tremendous impact on your life and was a wonderful compassionate person. This is a beautiful and well-written reflective piece. Peace to Fr. Tom and his family, to you and yours.

  7. Dear Jamey,

    Sue and I were blessed many years before Tom arranged the adoption by him answering the phone at the Vincentian Priest’s house at American University when we were looking for a priest to be part of a youth program that we were working with at our local parish, Search for Christian Maturity.
    Tom answered the phone and sight unseen agreed to come to Richmond to be the priest for one of our teenage sponsored Search retreats.
    That began a literally lifelong connection to Tom, he preferred that to Fr. Tom. He went on vacation with us to Ocracoke, six of us in an un-airconditioned Volvo station wagon for 6 hours with the top loaded with our beach stuff, Grapes of Wrath go on vacation.
    He officated at my son Joshua Nicholas and Daniela’s wedding. He was the foundation of my spiritual life. He was a dear and long time friend. He will be missed.
    Tom was the middle man in your life in a very literal and direct sense. He was also the middle man in the lives of countless students at St. John’s University in NYC and on many many parish renewals that he was part of over his lifetime.
    Tom was the example to me of how we can be middle people with almost everyone we know by being truly present to them and reminding them by our actions and ourselves by remembering to try to always be the best that we can at that moment in time.
    I am glad to be a part of your life and be good friends with your family.

    • Vince–Thanks so much for your comment. I learned a lot about Tom from your first few paragraphs, and the connection you make about him being a middle man adds a lot to the definition of that phrase I described above.

      In a sense, that’s what priests are–they’re middle men between people and between people and God. I’m blessed that Tom chose that vocation, and it sounds like you and the countless other people he impacted are too.

      I also really like this, your point that anyone can be a middle man: “we can be middle people with almost everyone we know by being truly present to them and reminding them by our actions and ourselves by remembering to try to always be the best that we can at that moment in time.”

      Thank you for honoring Tom in this way, Vince.

  8. I literally cannot remember the last time I cried, but I am crying now, and will certainly cry more at the wake this afternoon.

    Tom taught me the value of candy as a child by, while on annual family vacations with us, not sharing his candy with me no matter how much I begged him for it. (I’m sure he relented now and then.)

    He tortured me with relentless tickling, which I loved and hated. I tortured him right back by calling him “Father Tom,” which for some reason he didn’t like as I recall.

    He gave me the talking-to I needed while going through a rough period as an adolescent.

    On top of all these defining moments, and many others, Tom will remain a lasting part of my life as being the man who officiated at my wedding and helped Daniela’s and my family and friends celebrate life and love on a grand scale on a snowy evening in December of 2005.

    Jamey, at the suggestion of your mother, I will be printing your post out and leaving it in the guestbook at the wake tonight. I’m sure your story – and the others shared here – will bring tears of joy and remembrance to many.

    Thank you, Jamey. Thank you, Tom.

    • Nicholas–Thank you so much for your comment and your memories of Tom. Seeing the photo of him at your wedding on Facebook really moved me.

      You’re more than welcome to bring this story to the wake. I’m glad you and others are able to celebrate his life in person.


Leave a Reply

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading