Pat and Joe Sullivan in their '70s finest.
Pat and Joe Sullivan in their ’70s finest.

By Tim Sullivan

Time, time, time, see what’s become of me…

Like many people in the late ‘80s, I thought Susanna Hoffs was smoking hot, but it was not very cool to admit that you liked any of The Bangles’ music. I was busy keeping up with the likes of New Order and Public Image Limited and Echo and the Bunnymen. I wanted a Johnny Rotten mo-hawk, but my hair lent itself more to a Lionel Richie mullet.   Anyway, I did like The Bangles’ version of “A Hazy Shade of Winter,” the classic Simon and Garfunkel tune. It was something of a haunting, high-school heads up to take note that time can and will, slip on by.  Indeed it has.

Look around, leaves are brown, and the sky is a hazy shade of winter…

I’m not giving The Bangles all the credit for my keen awareness of time, but I hate being late for anything and I loathe wasted time. Sometimes I can zone out just thinking about the concept of time, which is usually counterproductive. Still, I could swear there was a time not long ago when I’d cram days full of gym, work, errands, dinner with friends, a favorite show and a book before bed.

Since we’ve had kids, so much time is devoted to the feeding, bathing, loving, cajoling, shuttling and playing with them that to-do lists and want-to-do lists serve as little more than spelling practice. I think the last time Kristen and I watched a TV show Tony Soprano was sitting in a diner and everything went black and that seems about right. Just getting the kids into the car can eat up a chunk of an afternoon. Then, this morning, the sweatshirt that I swear fit Elliott perfectly yesterday was perceptibly short in the arms and Margo suddenly graduated to drawing things that actually look like things.

Look around, leaves are brown, there’s a patch of snow on the ground…

My parents, Pat and Joe Sullivan, had five times as many kids as I do. All their time, their entire adult lives were completely devoted to raising us, providing for us, loving us. And then they died so young. This month holds the dubious honor of marking 25 years since my mother died of a heart attack and 24 years since my father died of a broken heart. The short time frame between their two deaths and the vast expanse of time since it all occurred kind of makes my head spin. I doubt it will ever feel anything but fresh in my mind. If you’re ever in the mood for a good cry, come on over and we can sit on the porch for a spell.

Look around, the grass is high, the fields are ripe, it’s the springtime of my life…

A few months ago, my brother, Marty, hosted a family reunion and I had a panoramic moment in his backyard. Everything seemed to slow to a crawl and my children were playing with their big cousins and two of my siblings were sharing an embrace and I came to realize that the results lay out before me. Without a stitch of time to themselves, Pat and Joe managed to spend their time masterfully. Maybe this was one of the occasions where having time enough to ponder time actually produced something worthwhile.

So cheers to Mom and Dad this month and kudos to all that savor family time, even if it’s just another manic Monday (I couldn’t resis).  And as I indulge in sentimentality, a wry remark typical of my father plays over and over in my head: “I thought this column was supposed to be funny?”

Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at tim@sullivanfinerugs.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.