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Barry Crimmins

words to live near


A Tribute Before a Eulogy Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Tribute Before a Eulogy
Note: Here is a note I wrote to my dear friend, Tom Duffy. It concerns ten years of uncomplaining generosity on his part. Left to his own devices he'd probably delete my remarks, so I figured I'd pass them along to the readers of this blog. I should hope he will also bring this to the attention of the readers of his ever effervescent blog, The Garlic. In fact, I demand he do so (in a nice way, of course.)


Tom, Your Aunt Cele lived out her days with dignity and no small measure of joy thanks to your remarkably selfless care for her. For just over a decade you were never, ever concerned with your own needs and desires until you knew your aunt was safe, comfortable and at ease. Needless to state, your own needs rarely made it out of this compassionate triage.

No matter how difficult things became, you responded with calm patience and loving kindness toward your aunt. You missed out on all sorts of opportunities because your responsibility to Cele came first. Despite this, never once did your efforts come grudgingly or with so much as a hint of resentment.

You have set a great example for everyone. Unfortunately you have done so with such modesty and selflessness that no one but you will ever know just how much you did. And since you never kept track of your efforts (because to do so would be to devote time and energy to vanity instead of your aunt) not even you know how much you did.

But Cele did. That's why you were the last person on the planet she looked to, called for and trusted. At the end, yours was the only face to which she could place a name. Even at 97, when she had lost track of every other thing in this world, she knew you. That was how she thanked you. That was how she recognized and honored the very important work you had done. She celebrated you by acknowledging that your devotion to her was so bright and clear that it could be seen through the fog that eventually took her from this life. That was pretty damned impressive and generous, as well!

I am proud and humbled to know you, J. Thomas Duffy. Thanks for the inspiration.

With profound condolences,