Papa died today

Papa died today. (Well, technically Saturday for the sticklers out there.) Yup, I ripped off Camus. But I mean if you are going to rip someone off, choose one of the greats, right? And honestly, as a reader I don’t care when authors rip each other off,  I just want them to be forthright about it. And I was, and you know what, my papa did die today, so it’s not like I’m making shit up….

My last picture with my Dad, June 2016

My last picture with my Dad

Its also pretty appropriate because Camus’ The Stranger was the first book I read as an undergrad and I was using the copy my dad had used when he was an undergrad. So we had sort of a Camus bond.

For those that didn’t know, about 7 months ago my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. It was a tough 7 months, and it hasn’t gotten any easier now, but I’m certainly happy for him, that his suffering has come to an end.

First post cancer diagnosis family selfie, Fall 2015

First post cancer diagnosis family selfie, Fall 2015

We had enough time left that we got to do some cool stuff as a family. We all piled into an RV and went to the baseball Hall of Fame. My love of baseball comes from my Dad, we had the type of baseball relationship Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams talks about having with his dad, contentious, to say the least, but built out of a passion and love for the game itself.

Early baseball lessons, please not my Dad is wearing cleats.

Early baseball lessons, please note my Dad is wearing cleats.

We grew out of that typical Irish stubborn teenager/father bullshit and had a far better relationship moving forward than he and his father had. Evolutionary what else could I ask for?

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The Fearsome Foursome in Cooperstown early May 2016

In reality my Dad and I may have been cut from the same cloth, but the taylor did very different things with that cloth. My sister and Dad were far more simpatico which was evident when in a moment between my Dad and I few weeks ago he tried to ask why it was so much easier with her than it was with me. To be honest I didn’t have an answer for him, other than they raised me to be an independent thinker and that independence almost became a dependence on my independence. (There is a better turn of phrase in there I’m sure, but its not like I’m in the best place to find it right now.) I can tell you I didn’t want the relationship with my Dad that my sister had. So I don’t believe there is any bit of jealousy there, I just think it was different and that the sensibilities between me and my Dad and my Dad and my sister were just very different. Different enough that I don’t even quite understand it completely yet, and while I think that is ok, it would have been nice to have a better answer for my Dad in his final weeks.

If that ends up being my biggest regret about the time that my Dad and I shared while on Earth, then I think we did pretty good.

To those that knew before this reading and have reached out thank you. Since Saturday I’ve been able to share some excellent moments with many of the people who are very dear to me. You have all made this experience more bearable and that’s part of the reason that I love you all.  

I’m going to have to work hard to do it, but I’m going to try my best to use my Dad’s words in his eulogy of his own mother as a guide. He said something like, “Don’t remember this diseased carcass, that’s not who she was, remember everything about her that was good to you.” Like I said, it’s going to be hard to do because these last couple weeks have burned some shitty images onto my brain, but I completely expect that in time I will be able to recount and recall the good times we had.

Like the one and only time I saw him mad at my sister because she absolutely crushed his elbow with a golf shot she had been told explicitly not to hit.

The time he took me to work and I priced everything 99 cents because I was 3 and he hadn’t shown me how to change the price gun yet.

The time he sent me a letter at camp with “his guy” Nolan Ryan beating up “my guy” Robin Ventura.

Or even the time shortly after his diagnosis when I went down to my parent’s house to clean the gutters. He was a stickler for clean gutters, but he was particularly worried about them this year because of the ice dam that had built up because of the horrible winter the previous year. So I went out and cleaned them out, and shortly after I left he and my sister went out with the drone she had bought him and checked my work.

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Drone shot of my Dad and my sister, Fall 2015, please note the immaculate gutters.

The memories are there, they aren’t as vibrant as I want them to be, but I think they will be with time and I think that I will eventually remember my Dad for his smile, his laughter, his work ethic that coupled with his fierce determination for perfection, and his abundant love for my mother, my sister and I.

I love you Dad, and I already miss you terribly.

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Tom Sullivan, 1949-2016

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9 thoughts on “Papa died today

  1. Well said, Sully. Our deepest condolences to all of you at this time an we pray that in the days to come that the memories of your dad outshine the memories of these last few months. Please give your love to your mom and sister for us.
    Cal and Becky Farris

  2. Michael this is like the best balm for my heart. Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts in such a positive way. Much love and a big hug.

  3. the Hug shows the love between father and son…not money, job, fame or belongings matter… it is knowing you are loved…that you mattered….that you will be remembered.. Michael .. the Hug is the memory…thank you for writing such a heartfelt tribute.

  4. Michael, A loving tribute to your Dad. I knew your Dad in Holliston web I was in elementary school. He was always kind and would lift me up on his shoulder and pretend to drop me. I am Laurie Sullivan’s sister. Remember those precious smiles, joy of baseball and depth of love for his family. You are more like your dad than you know. You family are in our thoughts and prayers.
    April McEntegart Walker

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