About when Tommie Sigur was born, 1944 or there abouts, my mom met a navy man at a military ball in Philadelphia, PA. My mom's side was German-English and my grandma's maiden name was Varweig. From all accounts, Pauline Thompson was swept off her feet by a man who was or was to become Tommie's uncle, Stanley Steven Sigur. Stanley came from Croatia with his mom, Tommie's grandma, when he was three, right after the Big War and I suppose they were in a rush to start getting the family away from the new big threat, communist Bolshevism that was running rampant in Russia and threatening the entire region.
A family of semi-modest means, the older two sons were left behind till they could afford the trip and Tommie's dad continued his apprenticeship in the greenhouses back in the old country.. In a few years they were all reunited as a family, with the exception that Tommie's grandad who had gone over first was never located or heard of again but Joe, John and Stanley were three healthy Yugoslavians ready to establish the American dream for themselves that they had heard of all their lives. When the war came John worked in the factories to support the war and Joe and Stan served in the Pacific.
Thanks to that military ball, I was made about five years later and became a proud member of the Sigur-Thompson association. Sadly, the person I was named after Uncle Joe Sigur, came back from the war with something, no one is sure what and he died around 1952. I was told that I went up to the casket and announced to everyone that that wasn't Uncle Joe and indeed that wasn't Uncle Joe anymore. He had gone to somewhere the soul never dies.
Uncle John or Tommie's dad, in the mean time,had started his own flower business, not sure of the details on that but with, at most, a high school education John Sigur was testimony to what hard work and a focus of purpose could get ones self if applied. My dad, it turns out, with his fancy degree that his brother helped enable, never could find any one thing that really seemed to fit and though he lived a comfortable life, he didn't live up to his potential.
Sadly, the marriage that had joined me with the Sigur's fell apart and at five years old, me, my mom and my brother moved into my grandparent's house and would stay there the rest of our childhood. This totally disconnected my brother and me from the Sigur side of the family and other than one month spent in California when I was 12 with Grandma Rocksa and my dad, we grew far apart.
It seemed destined that my first cousins, Tommie and Marianne, were forever lost to us but one day in my 19th year my dad calls from California and asks if I wanted to join him on a trip up to Detroit. He was driving cross country and he would swing by and pick me up. This it turns out, was to re-establish a connection with my Detroit side. Tommie and I reintroduced after fifteen years apart. He lived next door to the original house I remember from my very young childhood on Mound Rd. and we got along great from the very first.This occasion was, though I am sure she doesn't remember it, the first time I met Mary.
Unfortunately, I was soon to go through an identity crisis brought on by taking psychedelic drugs that basically seemed to tell me that my life up to that point was no longer relevant. At the same moment that I was in disarray, Viet Nam came callin and I decided not to answer the door but went out the back and flew to Canada. I was to spend the next five years in Toronto. At the time I left, I thought I was gonna be spending the rest of my life there.
The next time I got to see Tommie and my Uncle John was when I had come across the Windsor bridge to recross back into and apply for "landed immigrant" status at the Canadian border. For whatever reason, I hooked up with Uncle John and spent a day or two before doubling back to carry the mission out. It must have been a shock for him to see me as I was for only fifteen months earlier I was this seemingly typical all American boy, and now I had long hair and an air of depression hovering around me. John put me on the phone to my dad and my dad tried to get me to change my mind about dodging the draft but my mind was made up. I remember, right before I left, Uncle John took me aside and gave me about three hundred dollars (1970's dollars). It was such a nice gesture, something I suppose he would do with anyone he considered family but something I never saw around the house I grew up in.
Let me just touch quickly that the house I had grown up in was full of sickness. My grandfather was wheel chair bound and barely alive, my grand mother was suffering from debilitating arthritus and my mom had acute schizophrenia, the cause, I'm sure, of the marriage falling apart with my dad. So what I was used to was nobody paying attention to me and that small gesture of handing me $300.00 as I was on my way to the border told me I was special. It would be another four years before my travels would start having my path cross with Tommie Sigur again and in the mean time, I made a slow recovery of my soul though I still had trouble figuring out who I was.
In Canada I had spent most of my time living broke and working only enough to get by or till I could afford to get high. I had a pipe dream of becoming a great singer, songwriter, guitarist but the problem was, I needed a big sniff of angel dust to bring out the creativity. When I started going back and forth across the border once Jimmy Carter had granted amnesty, my sporadic interactions with the Sigur family and Tommie resumed.
I'd come into town, most likely, hitch hiking and with pocket change at best. I'd call up Tommie and he would come get me and I'd stay with him or as in the the first case stay with Uncle John. My first visit was at a difficult time for Aunt Esther, Tommie's mom,was very sick and had a brain tumor. I remember her very sad goodbye as I looked into her face, me about to leave,and saw the face of person who knew she was about to die and indeed, my next visit, she was gone. Tommie said he wasn't sure if it was a good time for me to be in Detroit cause they had just buried her. I went to stay with Uncle John, anyways and from what Tommie told me later, it helped his dad having me around at that difficult moment.
I continued having my dream of being a rock star, folk singer that wasn't going anywhere and for the next three or four years, everytime I went through Detroit on my way from or to Toronto, I would stop in. If I was going back to Atlanta the visits could be substantially longer, I don't know why, that's just the way it went. They started having a certain pattern to them. First I'd stay with Tommie and his wife. They wouldn't skip a beat from their daily lives but just drag me along with whatever they had to do.
Tommie had a successful flower shop and I'd deliver flowers amongst other things which was nice being in a city I had no clue about and no iphone to tell me when to turn. This would go on for about five days then they'd hand me off to Marianne and Nick. Same thing, they didn't skip a beat and Nick would drag me off to work with him or whatever was happening, I'd just follow along. Uncle John had gotten a farm up north so , he was the next lucky one to have a hippy tag along with him. When I went to his farm he had me plant 10,000 trees ( a good way to clean my system out). I kinda got into it, then maybe Tommie grabs me for a night and then takes me to the freeway so i can continue on my way to Atlanta by the thumb.
I really didn't deserve the hospitality but because I was seed of their favorite Uncle, Uncle Stanley, there was always an open door for me, about the only open door that accepted me for who I was. One of the last of these regular trips was kind of a nightmare or it could have been but for Tommie's cool demeaner. I had been kicked out of Canada, so to speak and I had this ole beatup Ford truck. Back then, I would do any drug anybody would give me anytime any place and on the 5 hour drive between Windsor and Toronto, I probably took 6 valium and drank 5 beers. Not a good idea. I back sided someone in Windsor and got arrested. So guess who I call? Tommie of course. This is the way Tommie always was with me. If he was annoyed, he never showed it and always had a good sense of humor and a ready smile. He came and bailed me out, got my car out of the pound and nurtured me back to health before sending me on my way. That was Tommie. laid back, easy going and nonjudgmental!.
At some point, I gave up on the idea of living in Canada and started a lawncare service. This drastically limited my running in to my Sigur side after that. Ten years down the road, I decided to go back and try to live in Toronto and dabbled with the idea of moving to Detroit. I quickly realized after six months that I better get back to Atlanta and re-establish my business. It seems that most of my interactions with my Sigur side were meant to be under semi-duress for once my daughter came into my life in 1992, we haven't had the chance to interact
But there was a time and they probably don't even know it, that they were the difference whether I sank or swam. They always had a helping hand extended for me to grab onto to when I was about to fall into the abyss, all of them but Tommie the most. He was the bridge that opened the door to everyone else there and all of them never hesitated to let me know that I was a Sigur, one of them even with my excess baggage. Tommie, the good natured jokester that helped me see my problems were no big deal, Uncle John and Marianne with their patience and love will always be warm memories to reflect upon when life seems too much to bare. Nick, for just being a good guy and supporting Marianne in her endeavers to deal with me.I feel very lucky to have gotten to know my Detroit side even if it was kinda weird........................................................................................God Bless you,Tommie!