Sunday, May 20, 2007

Timothy Michael Lyons

Tim was born on June 10, 1939, the third of four boys to Mildred Grace and Cornelius Joseph Lyons in Norwalk, CT. His childhood was interspersed with a strong work ethic at an early age, as all four boys found jobs in some capacity in the family restaurant, The Lyons Pier, in Norwalk, as they were growing up. Later, when his brothers Dan and Neil opened their first Mobil gas station together, Tim started work there tinkering with cars. He was very proud to have taken apart the engine of a '56 Chevy piece by piece and put her back together in working fashion. His father eventually sold the restaurant and went to work in the pulp and paper industry, the field in which Tim would also make his career.

He graduated high school in '57, did an extra year at a college prep school (Watkinson in Hartford, CT), and then tried his hand at college at Norwalk Technical Community College and WestConn in Danbury, but he was more of a hands-on smart than book smart, so decent grades eluded him. In 1963, he joined the Army and served at Fort Dix (NJ), Fort Devens (MA), and Herzo Base (Herzogenaurach, Germany). He came home after his three-year stint and began working, first for NASH and then for Clark & Vicario, in the pulp and paper industry as a sales engineer. He also began courting a sister of his buddy Moe's: Virginia Lane. They were married on January 21, 1967.

A daughter was born in September of 1969, a son in December of 1972. Tim worked out of the house and traveled frequently, while Virginia worked as his secretary and a stay-at-home mom. They had homes in South Norwalk, Norwalk, New Milford, and Warren, CT from '67 to '84, when Tim decided he'd had enough of traveling and wanted a change.

Changes had also been occurring prior to '84. On June 5, 1982, Tim was heading down to New Milford from Warren to run errands with his daughter, when he pulled over to the side of the road and had a seizure. After driving a little further, an ambulance was summoned and he was transported to New Milford Hospital, where they diagnosed him with some type of heart aneurysm and whisked him off to Yale-New Haven. It was actually a dissection of the ascending aorta, which even today has about a 90% mortality rate. The fact that the symptoms hit around noon Saturday and they weren't cutting into him until early Sunday morning is a testament to something miraculous. That was a long hard summer of recovery, but recover he did, and Meara, a third child was born in October of 1983.

The family moved to North Carolina for a year, then to Florida. Tim thrived in the easier lifestyle, tending to the lawn on the weekends, doing things around the house. But as he got older, it became apparent that his health was a tenuous proposition. His doctors, when repairing his heart, had stitched something a little too close, which when coupled with years of poor diet, smoking, etc., had caused a blockage in his carotid artery. This meant less oxygen-rich blood making it to his brain, which caused TIAs (transcient ischemic attacks, or mini-strokes), eye migraines, and blood pressure issues. His doctors in Florida were afraid to operate to repair anything though, because of the danger of losing him on the table.

Tim was a very unique man, held people at arm's length, all people, so when his love snuck out, it hit you like a truck, because he wasn't an emotionally demonstrative guy. He was quite funny, had a great sense of humor, but was also uptight, rigid, anal, with some OCD mixed in (is that redundant?), so we walked on eggshells quite a bit. He was a political conservative, a lapsed Catholic but a devout Christian, and a fiercely intelligent debater. He enjoyed music with a melody, was proud and patriotic. He gave out hugs and kisses with only a shade less awkwardness as he got older, but balked outright if someone bought him a gift for a holiday.

And yet you take life for granted, every day, so that when you're faced with someone pivotal to your existence no longer being there, it's so inconceivable a notion that you can't even cry or scream. We had been told in the later years, that he would likely go quickly, by a stroke, and we told ourselves that to try and prepare. It was a joke, trying to prepare. We weren't preparing for anything. I'm grateful everyday for the time we had communicating with him the day before he passed, but the gutteral, gasping, gaping loss I experienced when he did still leaves me stunned, numb, and aching. I know I should be thanking the Goddess that he's no longer tired, no longer in pain, but I'm obviously going to need a bit more time on that one.

As I write this, we still don't have a straight answer on what exactly took his life. But his legacy lives on strongly in we three kids, no matter how badly we may be hurting now. Cyril's life path today is a testament to Dad's love, his inability to give up on his son. Meara's always been our golden child, brightest in emotion and intelligence, and you can already see how this experience is changing her, making her more of her own woman. Mom is a tough read; it was a marriage based on love, but it was also painfully one-sided at times and deeply oppressive. You couldn't win an argument, a discussion, or a chat with Dad, so we became yes-men when it was easier than crossing him. Not the most honest life, but less roughness around the edges. She's already purging tiny parts of the house in these short bursts of energy. I told her I was only taking things off her hands with the understanding that if she calls me at 3 a.m. wanting something back, there'd be no questions asked.

Starting to ache, so closing this off...we all go back to work tomorrow, which completely sucks, most of all for Meara, who has to drive back to Orlando to her job at Universal. I'll be praying hard to the Goddess tonight for the strength to do what needs to be done to give us a decent next paycheck. We just got Internet back too, so Les has started looking for work. It's time to stop taking life for granted, time to start doing right by ourselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. I plan on writing something similar soon, when I can think about him without crying.

This sucks...