There’s not a June that goes by without my thinking of certain things: my eldest daughter’s birthday, the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year, pollen, and my dear friend and golf partner, Msgr. Tommy Harrington. And did I say pollen?
The diocese lost a wonderful soul five years ago this June 30 when Tommy succumbed to a long-time illness. But his was such a wonderful life spent serving others and bringing joy and laughter everywhere the man went.
He was a hero with the Fall River Fire Department. I can still see the picture from the local newspaper of Tommy with his head out a second-floor window with smoke pouring out all around him, while he was assisting his brother firefighters in securing a burning building, making sure there was no one trapped inside. I’d say he was fearless, but I’m pretty sure he had his moments in such situations, but he never showed it, or talked about it — to me anyway.
Tommy was a close family friend for years, and when he found out I liked to hit the links, he was thrilled and we immediately became golf buddies.
I so miss the days when we would be out on the course, just he and I, and we would talk about so many things, in and outside the Church. And of course, he was the master of head games.
God only knows how many Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffees we could have shared these last five years if he were still around. That was our payoff for our matches. The loser would buy the victor the beverage of his choice at DDs.
His was an iced coffee, regular; mine was an orange Coolatta. The price was minimal, but Tommy never lost an opportunity to ask, with a smirk on his face, “You sure want to hit it there?” or “Are you sure that putt is lined up?”
One day, I pulled out a blessed St. Kateri Tekawitha medal and used it to mark my ball on the greens instead of a coin. I told him it was to nullify his mind games. He loved it.
There were so many great moments on the course with him, and countless laughs and Red Sox and Patriots banter. But I also cannot forget the last time we played — the respiratory difficulties he was having while trying his best. I finally told him, “Let’s call this one a day.”
He felt horrible ending my outing so early. I assured him it was not a problem. He quickly answered back, “I still get my iced coffee though, right?” Yes Tommy, you got your coffee.
I hope he’s in heaven and God has set him up with a cart, a beautiful June summer day and he’s tearing up Augusta National or Pebble Beach. And I also hope there are Dunkin’ Donuts in heaven — but I don’t think God is as easy a foil as I was, when it comes to mind games. God bless you, Tommy.
I miss you my friend. I raise a DD regular iced coffee in your memory.