The ceremony took place in the gazebo at 14th Street in west Huntington. They invited all the friends they could rustle up on such short notice and kept the reception simple: just a cookout with cupcakes.
They're very happy.
Tom is getting better, but returning to work has been slow going. It's a lot to bounce back from.
The year before the stroke was, professionally, one of Tom's best. For nine months, he'd been on the road for Cole Bros. Circus, acting as their ambassador.
"He'd come to towns they were going to play a week ahead of the show," Jessica explained. "He'd visit schools and do little clowning jobs to let people know about the circus."
Cole Bros., they said, was willing to renew the contract and bring him back out on the road again, but Tom couldn't really do that sort of work anymore.
Still, he's an entertainer. It's a profession, and not a particularly forgiving one.
"You don't get sick days when you do this," she said.
So, for the last several months, he's taken a more secondary role for clowning jobs. He's handed out balloons and let his wife do most of the work -- but the couple has a plan.
"He's the funny one, I'm the pretty one," she said. They both grinned. "We're working on a whole new show."
They'll play to Tom's strengths; not surprisingly, he doesn't say much, but Tom doesn't have to. The couple is also working on a clown-related program they can take nationally to aphasia support groups, to help others cope with the change in their lives.
"We think he can have an impact," Jessica said.
Tom nodded seriously. He thought so too.
And while aphasia doesn't have a celebrity like Michael J. Fox to promote awareness and act as a spokesman for the condition, they could have a clown.
Tom was recently named Clown of the Year by the members of the Clowns of American International, an organization that represents about 5,000 professional clowns across the country and around the world.
Jessica said Tom was nominated, but the nomination is almost the easy part. In order to be seriously considered, nominees have to submit a three-ring binder full of paperwork, including a résumé of trainings and jobs, copies of any and all awards; basically a detailed outline of a performer's history in clowning.
The committee also requires 10 references.
"These aren't just people who like you," she said. "They have to be people who have some experience with your work in the clown arts."
Still, many of them were friends. They called him an inspiration and a performer who has shared with them over the years.
Tom is still giving back.
"Even with the touring we hope to do, we want to do more locally for clowning," Jessica said. "You have to encourage young people to do this. There just aren't as many clowns as there used to be, and if we don't support the kids who are interested, it will die out."
They can do that together, they say.
Meanwhile, the couple is still adapting to the changes in their lives, and Tom is still recovering.
"There's a certain amount of humility to the whole process," Jessica acknowledged. "We have to work at it every day. We do homework every night, and he's had to relearn how to read.
"I have to make him talk, when it used to be I had to tell him to shut up."
"You don't have to do that anymore."
His wife groaned. No, she doesn't have to, but sometimes she still might want to.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.