Tom Garrity

The Entirety of Life

In Life on June 8, 2021 at 12:05 am

James Aloysius Garrity 2nd was born June 8, 1937 to Harold Thomas Garrity and Mary Broderick Garrity. He grew up with his brother Matt and his sister’s Kathy and Mary Ann. In 1963 he married Andrea Joan Schlick, whose parents were John and Adrienne, her sisters are Pam and Paula her brother is John. To understand “our dad” is to understand that family is everything to him.  Whether it was coaching swim team, cheering our collective sports and activities or always looking forward to Sunday’s family dinner, it was family.  The regular calls with Kathy and Matt, the voicemail messages he would leave on our mobile phones declaring, this is James A Garrity, your father, calling… as if we might forget… which we never did and never will.

Dad had many near-death experiences, or experiences that could cause death. In his childhood, he inhaled fumes of poison ivy from a bon-fire someone had set; he was that someone. The plane crash. By all accounts, both he and Grandpa Garrity should not have survived. That is where his “never quit, never surrender” approach to life was tested, and proved to be true. Then there was the lawnmower accident, two strokes and almost getting run off the road by his own boat. The Vegas odds makers really had no idea who they were up against.

He was a fighter, right to the end. Hard to believe it was almost a year ago. 


Time provides us a way to address the waves of grief by digging deeper into our memories, great memories, to remember and reflect dad’s narrative… re-reading letters, holding the $2 bills he provided to help celebrate special occasions.

One day, as dad read the newspaper, I mentioned that Crankshaft was a comic I enjoyed.  While living in Montana, Miami or New Mexico He made a point to cut them out and save them. If I had a Texas Quarter for every comic he clipped… Oh wait I think I do!


He was proud of his children, didn’t hesitate to brag on his grandchildren, who call him “Daddy Jim”. He was always quick with a “spare check”, a note, a letter, a photocopy of an article, a photocopy of medical records, a photocopy of social security cards, photocopy of birth certificates, photocopy passports… who knew that Kens Kwik Kopy would be such a part of our life. He was quick to offer an ear, provide advice, insight and stories of serving in the US Army, swimming as an all American, or falling victim to Father Thomas Brennan who taught Logic at Notre Dame (yeah I know).. Father Brennan use to toss matchbooks, with uncanny accuracy, as a means to capture the attention of inattentive students… whether or not he was one of those students, we may never know… but dad says the matchbook hit hard!


The only thing he loved more than a good story was a great laugh.  He also loved the practical jokes, playing them more than falling prey to them. One family camping trip to Big Bear Lake included an early wakeup call to see big feet drawn in the dirt. Convinced it was either big foot or a big bear, we started to see where the tracks led. He loved the scavenger hunt because it would challenge us to use our minds. Scavenger hunts became a staple for a time and even eclipsed the “gift” sometimes. Unless the gift was epic, which is always was.

There is always a special bond between parents and their children, even more so between a father and his daughter. Such is the relationship between dad and our sister Shauna. When I wrecked the car I was grounded for a month, my brother was grounded for a week and Shauna… well she got a new car! Their relationship was much deeper than physical gifts, the meaningful relationships always are…

Dad loved mom and he loved to show her the ways.  On her 40th birthday, rather, the first anniversary of her 39thbirthday, he found a marching band, threw a parade and got mom a car… theirs was a blessed and unique connection that started when Dad brought his Mercedes back from Germany and picked up mom for a blind date … we are all thankful he did. He loved his cars, they were either fast or classy or a Ford LTD Country Squire Station Wagon, the kind with a wood panel.


Outside of home, dad was happy in two places… a Notre Dame football game or on/or near the water. The Venture 21 sailboat provided so many memories. Weekend boating trips, overnights on the water were always a special time. There was one time dad, jimmy and I were sailing, keel hulling to be exact when dad lost his grip and did an inertia driven back flip into the water, leaving my brother and I to navigate the boat back to his general area. We pulled him in, had a great laugh and decided it was time to call it a day.


One of the things I enjoy is trail running the path is memorable for a variety of reasons, it is mostly clear, the ponds and lakes at lower elevations provide great memories.  The higher you get the more difficult the terrain… more challenges surface, resulting in a twisted ankle, rolled and then the stumble a time, or ten. As the summit gets closer, the altitude is thinner, the climb is steeper but oh, the view, the perspective when you get to the top and can look back at the entirety of the trail… just like looking back on the entirety of a life, hearing his stories, some might have been embellished, but all rooted in truth, they are memories of family, friends, places in time, grounded in love. Those thoughts, like wine, only get better with age.

Dad is known for saying a lot of things. But this is the one that sticks with me…

“Do the best you can with what you’ve got as long as you got it.”

Dad, thank you for your thoughtfulness, love and legacy. I love you and you are missed.

The Family on the Train

In Life on January 20, 2019 at 10:45 pm

tomtrainsnap1As a part of my Christmas holiday travel, I worked in a trip on the Amtrak.

This was my fourth long haul train trip, first on the Texas Eagle (Fort Worth to Chicago, about 23 hours of travel). While the trip
itself wasn’t memorable, by design.  The people on the train (and the views) are always what makes it worthwhile for my travel taste.

On this trip, the passengers who made the 23 hours memorable are people I never formally met.  They were located two cabins behind me, a family of five. It included an adolescent  son, an elementary school aged daughter and an infant.  The husband is cordial,  has tattoos and looks like he enjoys the time with weights.  The wife is medically skinny with very short hair which is sometimes covered with a ski cap. As we approached Chicago she sported a new wig.

tomtrainsnap3Their chatter, disagreements and laughter is typical family stuff. They were traveling to  to visit family.  I don’t know where they boarded the train, they were already on when I boarded in Fort Worth.  My guess, they got on the train in Los Angeles.

Their morning ritual was not unlike other families and included the mom asking the son and daughter to get ready for the day.  Sometimes, repeating the desired tasking multiple times.  After a consecutive insistence, the son tapped his inner adolescence and decided to challenge the requests to brush his teeth.  The tension overflowed and got into areas that really had nothing to do with brushing teeth.  The son made some comment about is mom’s medical condition and the large number of pills she needs to take.  He commented how their family is really are putting a lot of hope in how those pills can change her per assumed fate. The mom share the need to give her body a two
week rest before resuming the regimen.  It was just enough time for the family to claim some kind of normalcy in the midst of the medical chaos.

The tone changed.  Silence fell. A short time later the son went to brush his teeth.

tomtrainsnap2The rest of the time, was filled with typically family travel stuff with tears being prompted by fatigue and roller coaster anticipation of getting tho their destination.

While the family was engaged in a game, passing time before arriving in Chicago, the son with celebrated anticipation proclaimed “mom, your gonna win!”  Her response was “I just want to keep playing.”

Don’t we all.

Verizon meet Epictetus

In Crisis Communication, Messaging, Reputation on December 28, 2018 at 2:31 pm

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 6.28.00 AMMost of us have never heard of the stoic Greek philosopher Epictetus.  His “Epic” proverb is cited by many public relation practitioners: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

At the time of this writing (7am, December 28, 2018), Verizon Wireless is in the midst of a nationwide outage.  Verizon is the largest mobile phone/data services provider in the country.  There has been plenty of news coverage documenting this problem which started to surface two days ago.

Verizon meet Epictetus.

I get it, Verizon is not able to communicate with its customers using its proprietary system because Verizon’s service is down. But it can still communicate with its customers.

For some reason, perhaps in an effort to protect the “brand”, Verizon is not leveraging its “owned media” to update customers.  Their website and four verified twitter accounts are all silent on blackout. Here are their verified IDs (Screen captures below, you can’t make this stuff up):

It is hard to believe that they don’t have a crisis communications protocol on how to update customers in the event of a service outage.  My power provider PNM is pretty good about providing updates via its website and twitter (and yes text message).

Verizon’s silence is deafening.

As a customer this is concerning.

As a father whose daughters use Verizon Wireless for emergency situations (like a rare blizzard warning today in Albuquerque) this silence insane!

“…how you react to it that matters.”

Verizon, I am not seeing it.