JOLIET, IL – “Be thankful you have food on your plate.”
That was Tom Putman’s mantra, according to his daughter, Ellen Mytnik of Shorewood, whenever she didn’t like certain food at dinnertime. Occasionally, Tom also shared a memory from his own childhood, when he and his family had nothing to eat except bread and water.
That was the most Ellen knew about Tom’s experiences during the Nazi invasion of Holland until Ellen was an adult. Tom expected adversity in life. He worked hard and provided well for his family, Ellen said. He was faithful.
So in 2009, after the death of his wife, Eleanor, Ellen moved Tom from their family home in Frankfort, where he had lived for 40 years, and into the Timbers of Shorewood, near her.
Ellen said she told her father, “Dad you have worked hard all your life. The time for doing for yourself is done. It’s now time for you to enjoy life.”
Then Ellen looked after his personal care, medical care and finances. Tom learned to socialize. He played bags and dominoes. He bowled on a Wii bowling team and amassed trophies. He became resident’s council president. In 2011, he was crowned king of The Timbers’ senior prom.
Ellen marveled at the transformation in her stoic father.
“It was like the caterpillar layer was falling off so that the butterfly could finally emerge,” Ellen said. “He finally let the things of the past go and enjoyed life.”
By Denise Baran-Unland
Joliet Herald News – October 4, 2015