During our visit this past Sunday we met and got to know Connie, the store manager as it turned out, a little bit. Connie is WAY cool, also very probably a recovering hippy, and just as genuine and warm and smart and funny as they come. I asked about Tom.
Her face quickly took on a sad expression. "We lost Tom several months ago."
I was pretty much speechless.
Connie quickly turned the moment around, and instead of sadness, we all laughed and told stories about the guy. Connie told the most, and the best, as she was a good friend of Tom's. Denise and I told of our visit with him several years prior, and how friendly and funny he was.
And when we finally left the Republic of Floyd on Sunday, we felt like we had just partied hard with good friends, a bit of an odd feeling considering we had just learned of someone's passing, but true to character for Tom Ryan - I'm sure he wouldn't want it any other way.
Connie showed us a portrait of Tom hanging high (of course) on the wall that I had noticed when we first walked in, but hadn't put two and two together; now it all made sense.
Ride in peace, Tom. Adios, amigo.