Friday, July 19, 2013

Blog Tour Stop: Tom Ufert

Today we are joined by author Tom Ufert who is on tour. His novel, Adversity Builds Character: An Inspirational True Life Story of Disability, Addiction, and Acceptance, is both inspiring and courageous. 

Welcome, Tom.

Tom Ufert, a 46-year-old quadriplegic afflicted with three different disabilities is an inspirational voice in our troubled times. He received his bachelor of arts in political science and history as a scholarship recipient from Centenary College of Louisiana. Tom is a former Rotary International graduate Fellow who attended Australian National University in Canberra, ACT, specializing in East Asian political affairs and was a White House Fellow nominee. He is a former Lyndon Baines Johnson Congressional Intern and constituency aid for two former United States members of Congress. His past services for 11 political campaigns on both sides of the aisle were highly valued by former Louisiana Governor Charles "Buddy" Roemer, Henson Moore the former assistant chief of staff to U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush, and the present U.S. Trade Ambassador, Ron Kirk.

At age 23 he was the youngest artistic Board Chairman in the United States as head of the Shreveport Summer Music Festival. Mr. Ufert has served as a member of two other 501(c) three charity boards including his beloved fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia as well as the community advisory board for his former rehabilitation hospital. Over the years he has acquired extensive customer service experience in the food and beverage, hotel, insurance, home security, and pharmaceutical industries. Mr. Ufert has served as a member of two other 501(c) three charity boards including his beloved fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia as well as the community advisory board for his former rehabilitation hospital. His professional memberships include Phi Alpha Theta, Sigma Tau Delta, and the Worldwide Who's Who. In recent years he has worked tirelessly as a volunteer fundraiser for numerous AIDS charities in his community and served briefly as the community affairs liaison for Legacy Founders Cottage. Tom Ufert, a native of Louisiana, now resides in Texas.

ADVERSITY BUILDS CHARACTER - Chapter 4 – Thief In The Night

It must’ve been a weekend, for I was home doing something in my room. The washer and dryer were going, and Mom was sitting on the sofa watching TV. Her walker was close at hand. Over the last several months her condition had grown worse. The household chores had fallen pretty much in my lap. She did try to help but it was just so frustrating for both of us. Like so many people, I guess, it was just easier for me to do what I could and not ask or expect her to help. Grandpa would mow the yard and make any repairs we required. He and Nanny would help by taking me to and from the grocery store. The vacuuming, dishwashing, dusting, laundry, and cooking had become almost routine chores for me. I tried hard, but at age nine a child doesn’t have the experience or knowledge to do these things first rate.

In addition, Mom needed my assistance. There were times when she was unable to reach the bathroom or even make it out of bed in time to perform normal bodily functions. For the person who is ill, urinating and defecating on oneself is bad enough; having to ask someone else to clean you, especially your nine year old son, is perhaps the most humiliating experience for our so fragile egos. There was never a time that I helped Mom with this that she didn’t cry. For the loved one helping, the experience is both humbling and demoralizing. You want to help because you love them; you know they want to do it on their own. Your heart silently screams, for you see the degradation flooding their eyes; and you know that they hate to ask but they have no choice. Years would pass before I myself had to endure this, but I can honestly empathize, not just sympathize.

There is no measuring stick for the amount of humiliation required to make one snap. Even through all of my trials and tribulations, I consider myself blessed for they have never broken me. I have Mom to thank. In a single desperate act (one that I’ve never written or spoken of in any detail before now), I witnessed the source of my life, all that I loved and lived for, want nothing more than to die. She taught me in a single moment the true value of life: Love.

Walking into the den, I found my mom slumped over the arm of the sofa. A pill bottle had fallen from her shaking hands onto the linoleum floor, scattering the few remaining capsules everywhere. “Mama! Mama! Wake up! What’s wrong? What have you done?” I grabbed her and tried in vain to shake her awake. She was groggy and incoherent. I screamed and yelled for help. No one heard me. Of course, there was no one to hear me. Even in her groggy state she pleaded for me just to go away. Knowing my grandparents’ house was but a few blocks away, I told Mom not to worry and that help would soon be there. She weakly reached for my arm to stop me, but I broke away and ran as fast as I could. For some reason, probably the horror of the moment, using the telephone never occurred to me. The night was dark like the nightmare I was living. Frantically running the five blocks to my grandparents, I burst into their home some ten minutes later. Breathless and deranged, I tried to explain what I had seen. Nanny held and comforted her sobbing grandchild, while Grandpa hurriedly dressed and drove to my house.

Shortly thereafter, Grandpa called. I just knew Mom was dead. Thank God I was wrong. After pumping her stomach, the hospital kept my mother a few days for observation. I stayed with my grandparents and went to school on Monday. Everyone assured me that my mom was going to be okay. Over the last several months I had been in contact with Mrs. Campbell, my godmother and my mom’s best friend. She had made every effort to keep in touch with Gloria and check up on me. Joy Campbell had assured me that her door was always open, and I could call her at any time. Little did I know how true to her word she would be!
Grandpa picked me up from school as always. That Monday had been morose and left me feeling fearful of the future that lay ahead. My thoughts drifted all day and even the slightest gibe from anyone sent me into a flood of tears. Though I’m sure the faculty were all aware of the previous weekend’s events, my classmates must have surely just brushed off my behavior as more sissy drama. That evening at home, alone with Mom, would make my day at school feel like a circus parade.

Grandpa and I walked into the somber Canal Street house. I wasn’t sure what to expect. My thoughts were jumbled between exaltation that my mom was okay and the fear of the unknown. Fear that somehow everything had now changed. Would she try again? What would happen to me if she succeeded? In the end, my love for her and the joy that she was still alive helped me run eagerly to see her. She sat in her usual spot on the sofa in the den. Her color was ghostly white and you could almost feel her physical agony. I reached to hug Mom but was warned that the stomach pump had left her severely sore and weak. Grandpa left after a few minutes to fetch Mom’s new prescriptions, announcing that he would return shortly.
Her once beautiful azure blue eyes now glared at me steely for several minutes as she remained stoically quiet. I stressed how happy I was to see her and that she was okay. She began to cry. I will never forget the next few minutes for the rest of my life. In her sobbing state she said to me, “I hate you! Why couldn’t you just let me die?” Back then I was just too young to understand how she felt or why. Those words seared through me like none before or since. As you will see, this event would serve as the foundation for my thoughts many years later when Mom died.

A gold plastic crucifix hung over my bed. That night began a ritual that continued for a very long time. In the darkness of my small room, I would stand and kiss the head of Christ and beg for his mercy. I knew nowhere else to turn and had little hope of any reprieve from my prison. In my heart there was hope and faith that all of this would turn out okay. My mind couldn’t see how. My story is living proof that God does work in mysterious ways, miracles do happen, and Angels are among us. These are true realities for us all if we would take the time to see them and keep our hearts open to them.

Watching a loved one lose all hope and doubt the value of their own life is an unbearable experience for anyone, especially a young child. Even more traumatic was the unforgettable searing image of my own mother glaring at me and expressing her seemingly genuine hatred for the act of saving her life. Mom’s irredeemably forsaken demeanor ripped through my heart like a piece of jagged glass! From this experience, I learned that the human spirit cannot be saved by even the deepest expression of love when it has reached a point of no return in total despair. Only the sheer will to live knowing that you have a purpose and your life has meaning can pull you from the darkest recesses of adversity.

The Tom Ufert blog tour continues on Monday when we pay a visit to Nick Wale´s blog for another insightful interview which will see Tom talk further about the writing of Adversity Builds Character, and about his plans for the future.

You can connect with Tom on Facebook or grab your copy of ‘Adversity Builds Character’ here.


  1. THANK YOU Julieanne for hosting Day 5 of my world wide blog tour. Your kindness and support are deeply appreciated.

  2. You are most welcome, Tom. You are amazing!

  3. An inspiring story, Tom. Keep up the good work!