Since far too often we only publicly say nice things about people when they are dead I’ve decided to randomly pick a Facebook friend every day and say something nice about them.
June 3, 2019
Today’s person: Pat Sullivan!
When we were kids my sister Pat made me promise that if she wasn’t an astronaut by a certain age - which at that time was several decades in the future - I would kill her.
Recently, while we were celebrating her birthday in a Mexican restaurant, I pulled her aside from the laughter and cervezas of the crowd and reminded her of our murder pact. She did not remember it, as it had been a very, very long time ago, but I did. I told her she needed to release me from the promise. She was like “What are you talking about,” as she laughed, enjoying her birthday. And I smiled and told her again - you really needed to release me from that promise...
I have two older sisters, and I did not pick to write about Pat first. It was a coin flip.
My sister Pat would be an inspiration to so many more people if she weren’t so quiet about her accomplishments.
Pat was my buddy when we were kids. I was under her wing - we went on adventures together, dug pits to make quicksand, had pie fights, we set up stages and performed our own versions of shows like “Laugh-In” for and with neighborhood kids. Pat led a rag-tag group of ragamuffins looking for fun, and I was her lieutenant. She and I even bought the script to one of our favorite films - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - and divided the roles, memorizing the lines so we could some day film the two Black-kid version. Pat also protected me from bullies and the occasionally over-zealous wannabe girlfriend. (Seriously - a girl in 5th grade demanded I be her boyfriend the day I met her, and when I refused she brought her BIG sister to our house to beat me into a more romantic mood. When they arrived Pat answered the door and dissuaded them with visions of their own kicked butts.)
Eventually she started hanging out with her age mates, though she did still involve me when she could. She would also periodically wake me up in the middle of the night to go out for pancakes or to go halfway down the Peninsula to play miniature golf. Then she went to college, worked at Yosemite, sang in a band, left college, became a bartender, managed a Burger King, became a youth counselor, had a kid, moved to Hawaii, then Massachusetts, then back to San Francisco, decided to start her own daycare center, put herself back through college, got her Bachelor’s degree, then her Master’s degree, then her Doctorate in education, and now she runs her Babysteps Daycare while teaching at San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco. She also flys around the country lecturing on how bias is both taught and affects early child education. And almost as long as he’s been alive, my son Zachary has spent at least part of every summer either being cared for or being taught how to care for and watch littler kids by my adventurous, brave, Butch Cassidy of a world-beating doctor sister. He is so lucky. And I never thought we’d have a doctor in the family.
Which is why it was going to be such a tragedy if I had to kill her for not being an astronaut.
Eventually, as you may have guessed by my not writing this from prison, she realized I wasn’t kidding and released me from my promise of murdering her. Not that I would have - most likely - but I still feel guilty for not fulfilling my father’s dying wish of leaving his dead body in the visitor’s gallery in the Senate.
Wait a minute... he was cremated. I have some of his ashes. So next visit to D.C....