Some of My Memories

Hi, I’m Tommy Sawyer.  My papa is Patrick Sawyer. I’m ten years old. What I remember was how Papa always bandaged me up from all my scratches and mosquito bites.  But now that I just got a bunch of mosquito bites all over my neck, I had to bandage them up all by myself, which I don’t usually do.

What else I was thinking about was about his ashes and how we’ll probably put them in the St. Joe River and try to find some other place for them. The ashes were his body, so it’s a way for his body (the ashes) and his soul to connect with the river’s spirit and the river (which is the river’s body).  The river and Papa are together, yet still with us.

The note that I put in Papa’s casket right before they closed it showed a picture of the river with a boat on it and it said, “I wish you could have kept your body.” The boat had a question mark in it because the river would miss Papa going out on it all the time.

I’m really glad that Papa is with me for always and I don’t have to speak out loud, I just have to think to speak to him, and I pretty much know what his answer is.

I also got my long hair cut short just like Papa’s right before the funeral services.  I really liked my hair long, but everyone wanted it shorter.  I decided to cut it as a sacrifice for Papa and so I’d look just like him.  But, when I went to the funeral home, I saw boy pictures of him at my age and he had long hair.  Then, I felt like my hair was just like his when he was in the coffin, and once I caught myself looking for a crack in my own head.

It’s really nice that all of you are trying to help me through this.  I think it really helps.

Me before my haircut (I'm at the kid's triathlon)
Me before my haircut (I'm at the kid's triathlon)
Me after my haircut
Me after my haircut

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Pam Lawrence

    Hi Tommy,

    WOW! What a handsome young man you are. I think you look exactly like your Dad…what an awesome memory everytime you look in the mirror.

    I've never met your Dad, but I have learned so much about him by reading the wonderful stories about him.

    My Mom passed away last year and I just wanted to share a few things that I hope will help you smile.

    It really helped me to talk to my family and friends. Even though I was and still am sad, when I get to talk about my Mom it helps me remember how lucky I am to be her daughter. As memories come up, they get happier and happier. Now when I think about her, I still get sad, but more and more I smile and laugh.

    Tommy, maybe there is something special you can do that will be a tribute to your Dad. Something that will be your own way of remembering and honoring him. Maybe you could plant a tree that you will tend to and care for.

    I am so sorry for your saddness, but I know God has a special plan for you and I thank you for sharing your story.

    Your new friend in Florida,


  2. Mary

    My sweet Tommy,

    Thank you so much for talking about Papa, it really helps me too, to hear what YOU think.

    Papa loves you very much, forever. He is SO proud of you for doing the triathlon, and he loves you no matter how long or short your hair is!

    I believe you are right, that Papa can hear you anytime you talk to or think about him. I talk to him all the time too.

    I'm so glad you shared your pictures with everyone.

    I like Pam's idea about planting a tree or something – you would be so good at taking care of something to remember Papa like that.

    I love you very much.


    Aunt Mary

  3. Bill Saunders

    Hi Tommy,

    I'm Lori Saunders, my husband, Bill grew up with your papa and Uncle Dan. I guess they met when they were about your age (Bill was nine). While I never personally met your papa, I can see he was a great man. It seems like he did everything all the way, and he was very aware and connected with everyone and every thing he did. I was very, very sorry and sad about what happened to your papa. I really enjoyed watching the slide show / video of your papa with all of you guys, although it made me cry. Thank you for sharing your story, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers every day! He will always be living through you and your family!

  4. Julie


    Thank you so much for sharing your memories with all of us. It's amazing that you can express your thoughts so well.

    I love you!

    Aunt Julie

  5. Dan Sawyer

    Hi Tommy, it's your uncle Dan. I think you are handsom with or without your hair. You do look very much like your father and I am proud of the way I see your fathers bravery in all of you kids.

    I have talked about participating in a triathlon for many years now but have never gotten one done. As I told your brother Danny, I am going to come to South Bend and participate in a triathlon next summer. I will need help from all of you with the transitions from swimming to biking and biking to running since I have never done one before and don't know what to expect.

    Getting into shape is my tribute to your father / my brother. I look forward to working out with you all.

    I love you all,


  6. Kat Skipton

    Hi Tommy,

    How nice of you to share your memories with us. What a beautiful idea to spread your dad's ashes by the river. We did the same thing for my dad.

    My dad lived on a lake up near Sturgis in Michigan. He loved it there on the water just like your dad. When he passed away we took his ashes back up to the lake. We think about him all the time especially when we are at the lake. I know this probably sounds a little crazy but, sometimes we even make his favorite drink and pour a little where his ashes are. My dad really enjoyed a good drink.

    I was checking out your haircut and I agree with the others, you are just as handsome as your dad. I must say though, that I prefer long hair. You can probably tell that by looking at my husband with his long hair and beard. (Some little kid at the grocery store actually thought he was Santa the other day.)

    Keep us posted, we all wonder how everyone is doing.

  7. Marianne Giolitto

    Hi Tommy,

    My name is Marianne and I'm a friend of your Aunt Julie. I'm very sorry to hear about your dad. He sounds like a wonderful dad.

    I wanted you to know that you are right about your dad always being with you and being there to listen to you. My mom died when I was 12, but I know she is still with me because I can feel her near. And she definitely hears me when I talk to her – even if I don't use words like you said. Even though I'm older now, I still talk to my mom. I know your dad is with you and hears you.

    Marianne Giolitto

    P.S. You should also know in case you ever need to talk to anyone about how you feel, your Aunt Julie is a very good listener. I talked to her almost everyday after my mom died for about two years. She listened to me even when I didn't use any words. You probably already know she's good at listening, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

  8. Tommy

    Hi, Pam

    I really liked your idea about the tree. I really want to find it soon, but I also want to plant it at the new house we'll get, but it will be many, many years before we get that house. Right now, we live with our grandparents while Papa was finishing school so he could become a nurse and earn a lot of money.


  9. Tommy

    Hi, Uncle Dan,

    I think that's a good idea to do fitness and go to a triathlon, because that's a way Papa can really be with you. I am really looking forward to exercising with you and getting into shape. Maybe, we might get to paddle!

    Papa always said that you were his hero. Like, when he got hit by the train in the pick-up truck bed, he saw what you did–he said that you jumped and grabbed hold of the train and jumped off. And, he said that you were always a little better than him at everything.



  10. Judy Doyle

    Hi Tommy,

    It's me Judy,( Chloe's mom from across the street.) I just want to say I think you are a wonderful young man, who I am sure will grow up to be just like your Papa. Looking so much like your Papa will always help you remember him forever. When you need to see him, all you have to do is look in the mirror. I think that is so cool! People tell me I look just like my Mom and she passed away, so some times when I look in the mirror, I say, "Hey there Ma how ya doing?" That always makes me laugh.

    Love to you and your family,


  11. hsawyer33

    Hi Tommy,

    This is your dad’s oldest brother’s (Bob) daughter (your cousin) Haley. I saw you last weekend, but I know its been a long time since we’ve talked. You are the strongest little boy I’ve ever seen.

    My memories of your dad are him teaching me how to throw a frisbee, rock climb, paddle, and do other things outdoors. He was such an inspiration, and I’m sure you will grow up to be just like him.

    I’d also like to come do a triathlon next summer in South Bend with Uncle Dan. I just did my first one this summer. And I definitely want to come paddle with you, and I’m sure your Uncle Bob would too.

    Love, Haley

  12. Bridget

    Hi Tommy,

    I know you do not know me, but I grew up across the street from your daddy and his family. In fact, your daddy was my first friend, and we played together nearly every day. I wanted to tell you that with your new haircut, you look just as your daddy did when we were little. I know your daddy is VERY PROUD of you right now.

    Bridget Hynds Bain

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