I came to two realizations last week:

  1. My daughters – no matter how nasty they are – will, at some point, be stopped from succeeding.
  2. Phil is gone.

I won’t talk further about the first since I don’t want to waste my time trying to justify the statement to some of you who might argue against it, and I don’t have anything constructive to add in terms of how to move forward. For now, it is what it is.

I will talk briefly about Phil. Or Philip, as I called him.

Whenever I think back to when my mother brought him into my life, I’ve always thought about how young I was – five. But going through photos and talking to family, it has dawned on me how young he was. A little older than Meagan. My mother was about Heather’s age.

The photos also make it crystal clear the connection that existed between the two of them. There are a surprising number of photos of them together, and there is an honest physical closeness in each and every one. That connection was also evident during this last year – and especially these last few weeks. My mother did everything possible for him.

He rarely called anyone by their real name. My mother was Pup. I was Tubsy – based on the name of a favorite doll of mine.


There were variations of that nickname including Tubby, Tubatha, Tenacious,  and Tenacity. Even Terribly Tenacious Tubatha at times. Though most common was a simple T. Those nicknames inspired the name of this blog.


When I was a young girl in high school and at a loss for how to even start my college search, he sat across the kitchen table from me – the one with the laminate wood grain top and the vinyl covered seats with the busy wallpaper as a backdrop – and told me, “Wellesley.”

When my father died, I remember him standing in that same kitchen by the sink near my mother and thinking how sad he looked – for us, but also for my father.

And I remember him trying to convince my stepmother to let my sister come live with him and my mother. He never realized how much I appreciated that. But I did.

While I wish both he and my dad could have walked me down the aisle, I was happy he was there with me.

As the grandchildren arrived, the list of nicknames kept growing. He was their Pépère.

There were so many summers – and winters – he welcomed family to the lake house. Cousins grew up together playing in the water or by the campfire while he watched from the porch. Sometimes he had to disappear from all the commotion and chaos created by this large family he had somehow acquired. The last time all of us got together was at my brother’s wedding – where he smiled, laughed,  danced, and enjoyed.

This past summer was pretty miserable, but there were a few bright spots. He managed to get out onto that porch quite a few times to watch the kids – something he said he would miss if he could no longer do it. And he made it out to the sitting dock where he said the view made it all worth while. I believe I sat with him the last time he was out there – bundled up with the sun on his face. I was sitting out there with an empty chair next to me when he died.

Does this come close to conveying how important he was to me and how much I loved him?

There is no one to call me T anymore. And I’m not up for being a nasty woman right now.

I’ve been dispelled.


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9 Responses

  1. Cheryl says:

    Sorry to hear about your loss. Sounds like he was a special man. 😔

  2. Three things: Success is a journey, not a destination. I can call you T. And second best blog ever…but a close second since it mentions the subject of the best blog ever.

    Dive into fiction T. It’s the next best thing.

  3. Cheryl Brown McLarney says:

    I am so sorry for your terrible loss, Miche. I didn’t know Phil well, but I certainly remember him from the days when we were young teens and I was a frequent visitor in your Chelmsford home. My memory of him was of a strong and kind man. My heart and prayers are with you and your family as you struggle to find your ground. Please share my sincere condolences with your family. God Speed to your Mom and all your sibs; you are blessed to find comfort in eachother and your wonderful memories. Sincerely,
    Cheryl Brown

  4. Chris says:

    Michelle – I’m so sorry to hear of Phil’s passing. Although I never met him in person, your stories over the years and now these posts have painted a memorable picture. My condolences to your family.

  5. Gail Lontine says:

    Very well said Mich. Thanks for sharing this…. we will all miss him very much.

  6. Michelle Gemma says:

    I am saddened by your family’s loss. He lived through your wonderful stores.

  7. Michelle Gemma says:


  8. paulmartin42 says:

    Don’t give me the whole truth,
    don’t give me the sea for my thirst,
    don’t give me the sky when I ask for light,
    but give me a glint…

    – Olav H Hauge

    via http://briandraper.org/