Everybody into the pool

At school I call it “March Mathness.”

Try to make the traditional office pool as unusual and complicated as possible, so that just picking who has the better mascot isn’t going to work.

Or maybe that’s what they want you to think.

Either way… it’s on.

Pi Day Eve!

You know if we made our circles a little smaller we could be celebrating Pi Day today instead of tomorrow.

Or so it says on the Internet.

And you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

Spring ahead!

This Sunday is one of my favorite days of the year: the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. Let the record show I think the whole “daylight savings” program is ridiculous, but I do like the neat little trick we pull every March, forgetting of course what happens at the other end of the year.

The beginning of Daylight Savings Time marks another change around my house. Sadly it is the day we take down the Christmas lights.

Or as we call them…

lights.

Happy news always follows sad

Every year it’s the same routine: get sad on March 2 thinking about Joe and now his late father as well, then a few days later be happy again because it’s my son’s birthday!

Birthdays are a pretty big deal when you’re in your zeros. My son turned the big oh-five yesterday and I couldn’t have been happier for the little guy. Well, not so little… kid’s almost as tall as I am!

Well, that’s a stretch. But not by much.

Not by much.

Happy birthday, buddy! Let’s celebrate five years on this pretty cool planet!

You’ve got a lot of Irishmen smiling down on you from above too.

William T. Sullivan, 1942-2019

Every year on March 2nd I write about my best friend for all eternity, Joe Sullivan, who was killed March 2, 2006, in an automobile accident at the age of 23. I think about it the other 364 days a year as well.

Joe’s parents have kept his memory alive the past 13 years through their tireless charitable efforts, raising money for college scholarships and others less fortunate in the Binghamton, New York, area. Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan have invested hundreds of hours of their time in helping others, embodying truly the humble, giving lives one expects only to read about or imagine in idealized versions of how the world really ought to be.

Last week Joe’s father, William “Bill” Sullivan, died at the age of 76. Always an optimist, Mr. Sullivan quipped to his wife when his time was near… “I get to see Joey first.”

I must have met Bill Sullivan some time in the mid-1980s. He was one of my friends’ dads. Your friends’ dads are all sort of alike, no? They’re like you’re own dad, but probably appear a little goofier, because they never really have to be strict with you. Somebody else’s dad never tells you to brush your teeth or do your homework (that’s what your own dad is for); your friends’ dads just tell corny jokes and offer you a soda. Not a bad deal.

Mr. Sullivan was a house painter. Inside and outside, he painted nearly every house on the west side of Binghamton, including that of my parents. Mr. Sullivan was pretty businesslike when it came to painting. He showed up, did his work, took a break for lunch, finished up his work, then went home. Oh, he still told corny jokes to anyone in earshot, but he still got the job done. Towards the end of his 40-plus years in the business he was doing mostly repeat jobs for customers whose homes he’d painted decades ago. Perhaps he would have painted a house for a family in 1987, and then 30 years later the kids had moved out, the husband had died, and the wife knew only one painter to call. Someone they trusted to do the work and not rip them off. It sounds like a joke but that really did describe most of his customers. And I think there was no better example of this than my own mother.

When I was a kid Bill Sullivan was someone to look up to as a trusted adult. As I grew up and became an adult myself (I use the term loosely) I found this to be more and more true. Raised five boys, went to church, owned his own business, and by the end had been married to the same woman for over 50 years. That’s a solid life. For someone who was so giving of his time and energy even 76 seems to young to go. But your time to go is your time to go, and Bill Sullivan’s time was February 23, 2019.

Timing means so much in life. That Bill Sullivan happened to be born the same year as my dad and go the same high school… that was good timing. Having a son born two months before I was… that was especially good timing. That he would lose his son so close to when I lost my dad… also noteworthy in the bond that created between us.

I looked forward to seeing him every spring, when the Sullivans would raise money with a charity poker tournament in Joe’s memory. Last April when I saw him he was in perfect health, and that’s how I’ll remember him. Every April, sharing stories of the past year, playing with my son. “Grandpa” Sullivan was so good with the next generation of kids who came into his life, and I’m glad my son got to be a part of that extended family. Have I ever mentioned my son’s middle name? It’s Sullivan. And it requires a certain dignity. (And a little silliness.)

Thank you, Mr. Sullivan, for being part of my life the past few decades, eventually befriending three generations of O’Connells. You’ll always have a special place in my heart…

and on my son’s ID cards.

Time for Spring

This is the last post of February. Thank God. I’ve just about had it with this month of snow and cold. And winter, yeah, I’m ready for winter to be done.

It’d better be, actually, because that giant barrel of hot chocolate mix I bought in October is down to the dregs.

Some people use an hourglass to mark time.

Me? Hot chocolate mix.

2019 Oscars

For the first time in several years I’d actually seen a few of this year’s Academy Award for Best Picture Nominees. I’m either getting old or the Academy is getting loose with how they’re throwing around those nominations. One of the ones I hadn’t seen, actually, was this year’s winner: Green Book. A movie about a guy who drives a car and a guy who plays the piano (my two favorite things in the world) should be right up my alley, no?

Can I play both roles in the remake?