September 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
Thomas J. Woodward (aka: Tom Jones) was born and raised in Trefforest, Prontypridd, in South Wales in the 1940s. His father was a coal miner who risked physical safety and possibly his health, like coal miners do, in order to take care of his family. While it has been reported that Tom Jones’ family encouraged their youngest child to sing at family gatherings, church, and school, given their modest circumstances, none of them could have forseen how their family history would be changed by the gift of his voice.
Some of us get life challenges early, and at the age of twelve, Tom Jones got tuberculosis. He was cloistered away from the outside world for what any child would think of as eternity. He was sick and, except for family, alone. Being sick and stuck at home must have been torture for an active, young boy. While all of his friends and peers are at school practicing grammar and mathematics and social skills, he is sickly and weak and coughing. I imagine the thrill of being absent from school is short-lived, as feelings of being lonely and isolated set in.
Imagine the psychological angst attached to having TB? Did it cause young Tom to ask “Why did this happen to me?” How did his parents help him, their “baby,” adjust? Did a spiritual belief help the family cope? Did it help young Tom? Did he seek Divine intervention? Do you think the sickly child dared to dream of being a professional singer? Do you think his daydreams took him beyond Wales? Beyond England? Was he old enough to wonder how pulmonary (lung) disease would affect his singing? Could he have ever imagined that at age 70, as he is promoting his critically acclaimed CD, Praise & Blame, he would be referred to as “Iron Lungs”? Or during the two years that he has reported being ill as a youngster, was he just thinking about hanging out with the boys and looking for cute girls? Surely he was not aware he would be… the singer who saved me.