Tom Mulroe is dead.  The news traveled to Monona last week. It was a surprise to me.

The year I was fourteen I was named Carrier of the Week for the local newspaper I delivered in Oak Park, a suburb outside Chicago.  After my name and photo appeared in the paper I became aware of another Tom Mulroe my age who lived a few blocks away from me on the other side of Austin Boulevard–in Chicago.

Prior to that my father was the other Tom Mulroe for me.  I am his junior, named after him.  When he died a few years back friends in Oak Park thought at a glance that it was me–then realized it was my father.

Over the years I have heard about what the other Tom Mulroe is doing. During college we ended up both being friends with a co-worker of mine.  I heard that he married young and had a large family, did not move too far from the area where he was born.  Out of high school he did odd jobs.  The last I heard he sold sinks–was quite good at it.

Three years ago this Christmas we spoke on the phone.  I talked about Monona, where I live.  He was eager to bring his family here, to a place he said that he felt sounded like heaven to him.  A town in Wisconsin by a lake. It was the type of place he’d like to retire to he said.

Time passed.  We both were caught up in our lives.  He never made the trip.

At fifty he died last week.  The news came to me here in Monona over the phone from my mother, who was aware of the other Tom Mulroe through me.

In the midst of all this I became aware a few weeks ago of a book called THE OTHER WES MOORE by Wes Moore.  It details the lives of two men who have the same name.  I was reminded of the other Tom Mulroe then, just prior to hearing he had died.

The truth is there are many other men named Tom Mulroe.  My teenagers put my name on Google a year or two ago and found them.  The one I knew was not one of them.  I intended to talk about that over the phone with him when we spoke again, or if he ever made it to Monona–a place he perceived from our conversations to be heaven.

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