Sunday, June 30, 2013
For most of my life there have been two constants outside of my family; the Hamiel's and the Culligan's. The Culligan's are longtime friends of my grandparents, while Matt Hamiel and I have been best friends since we were five and over the years I have grown quite close to his family as well. Last week Doctor John Culligan, a very close friend of my Grandpa's passed away. In my mind (and I think it's pretty accurate) my Gramps and Doc C were friends since the age of five, they played on the same baseball teams growing up (Gramps as the catcher and I believe Doc C was the second baseman) their little league box scores were in the paper the day after games (as Gramps tells me all the time 'There wasn't much else to cover back then'). My Grandma was the maid of honor to Shelia in their wedding, and Grandpa was a groomsman, as they grew up their families remained close. One of my earlier memories is waking up at Central Medical after surgery to get tubes in my ears and my mom giving me an Ironman action figure (the comic book guy) and then we had to swing by Culligan's house and I played with Ironman on the banister of their staircase. Then there were the Christmas Eve's when we would swing by their house to drop off gifts and chat, running into the family at church and dinners. My best friend Matt and I met in Kindergarten, we played on the same basketball, baseball and football team's, got into a lot of mischief (as I imagine Gramps and Doc C did as kids) and now that we are older I swing by his parents house on Christmas eve to drop off gifts and catch up with the family. On Saturday I went up to Matt's new house in Mora, MN, a dream spot right on the lake where we continue our adventures as kids into our adult lives. This past weekend we held the First Annual Dojo Invitational, a quad-rathlon plus one. We woke up early and biked the 8.5 miles around the lake, dropped off our bikes and then ran four miles to the beach and back, hopped in kayaks and paddled around the island and then swam to the neighbors dock. That completed the quad part of the athlon, then we squared off for a game of competitive croquet (which Matt won handily as he has for years now) and when we finished Matt handed out the T-Shirts he made for us. Throughout the 'race' we told stories and laughed, had serious discussions and planned out other adventures we wanted to attempt later that summer and beyond. The race was much more about catching up than it was actual racing. When my Gramps had eye surgery a while back and was staying at our house during his recovery he was forced to sit in a chair, almost like a massage chair, where his head was down and he had to stare at the ground. One day Doctor Culligan got dropped off to spend some time with him and the two of them sat in our back room, Gramps staring at the floor, Doc C sitting upright in a chair talking all afternoon, laughing at old stories and I imagine planning upcoming adventures. I feel very fortunate to have known Doctor Culligan (and not just because he diagnosed my appendicitis at my Grandma's funeral, although that was awesome) and his wife Shelia; who always reminds me of my Grandma as they were very close. Over the years many of my friends have moved on from the Cities (as I did for a time too) and my college friends are spread all over the country making it hard to stay in as close touch with them as I would like to. My Grandpa is very lucky to have the connection to the city of St. Paul that he has. Friends he grew up with stayed here as well and they not only grew up together but many of their families did too which only strengthens the bonds of community. The past few months have been hard ones for my grandpa, longtime friends of his have passed on and his community has gotten a little smaller. These men, from my Gramps to Doctor Culligan, Harold Craig, and Doctor Tom O'Kane, were renaissance men. They served their countries and their communities and set a high standard for how to live your life. A standard that I hope myself and others of my generation can live up to. And as one life passes on, another begins...this weekend Matt and his lovely wife Shayna announced they are having a baby.