THOMAS ROBERT CICHANOWSKI
1945 – 2005
A Loving Tribute
" The swiftest thing to fly is the mind. Those
who know this have wings. "
— The Hopi Indians — (from Tom’s web site)
Open Your Imagination
It's not very hard to think of our world as a puzzle.
A puzzle with more than one solution. Great fun lies in discovering the various puzzle pieces and assembling them on the puzzle board in our minds. In doing so, we achieve a deep understanding of the workings of nature and the wondrous ways we have, of harmoniously interacting with Her.
Bob, Mike & Linda, Dave, Gerry, Mary, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, family, classmates and friends of Tom:
Saturday, on first hearing of Tom’s illness, hospitalization and prognosis, I was … like most of you … stunned. What? Say that again. I must have heard that wrong. It was a piece of news that was just too large, too incomprehensible. Almost didn’t make any sense.
Reality set in. Wow. Tom. Really? Age 60. Damn.
The numbness caused by the news soon turned to sadness … probably brought on by thoughts of Tom, thoughts of his wonderful family, recollections of earlier days … and …probably by all the things that have gone unsaid between us; all the things we should have done; the time that flew by without the kind of contact and connection that we enjoyed in our younger years.
Becky and I visited with Tom at the hospital on Sunday. What a kind and gentle man, projecting dignity and class even under those hospital circumstances. It was difficult for him to speak. We shared a few words, concluding our visit conversation with, “We’ll see you tomorrow, Tom.” To which he softly replied, “If I’m still here.”
Monday came and Tom left us.
Done too soon … way too soon.
But was it? Was it really done too soon? Maybe not.
Then brighter thoughts came to mind.
· Tom’s suffering was over
· Lucy [mother] and Jean [sister] and Tom must be having one heckuva time, together
· And Tom could now speak, one-on-one, with the ultimate “Higher Authority” on all matters of science, space, time, atomic structure, physiology, health and healing … some of his favorite subjects.
I could just hear Tom, after a bit of debate with the top authority, “Oh yeah … now I get it. You know, I’ve been working on that problem for years. Thanks for the help on that one.”
The dominant visual image of Tom, for me, was he in high school. Tom was the Tim Taylor, Tool Time fix-it man for all things at the school. He was the only one who could figure out and repair the school automatic clock system. Tom redesigned the whole PA and intercom system. He ran wires everywhere, connected everything to everything, bedazzled most with his inventions … all the while reassuring Father McCauley, “Oh noooo … there’ll be no smoke or sparks … Trust me Father … don’t worry.” And … in most cases … Tom was right.
Tom was the creative and technical genius behind the great DJ dances at the Rec Center. He had more equipment and more know-how than anybody. I remember slow dancing with Becky. Mmmmm … For that, I thank you, Tom.
When the school could not afford to produce a yearbook … Tom, totally on his own, photographed and produced an album of the Cotter faculty and staff, published the album and sold copies to the class at his cost. What a guy. And you know, to this day, as we discovered at our 40 year class reunion, Tom’s album has remained as the highly cherished keepsake for all in the class and the only remaining touchstone of fond memories … each forever frozen in time … through his wonderful and sensitive photographs. John Nett, Father McCauley, Mr. Consodine, Sister Mark with the white mouse. Thank you, Tom, from the classes of ’63 and ’64.
Forty years ago, in our own family, Tom captured what became the very best brides photo … on the day that Becky and I were married. A year later, Tom photographed our first-born. Rubber stamped on the back of these treasured photographs it says, “Chick Photos, 602 Mankato, Phone 6673.”
Those were, “the Good Old Days.”
How do you describe or characterize this genuine “man for all seasons”?
I started to compile a list of attributes:
I stopped. These were all descriptors of his terrifically robust mind.
Chemistry, mathematics, physics, biology, physiology, electricity, electronics, kinetics, nutrition … intellectual stumbling blocks for most of us … were just the appetizers on Tom’s menu of disciplines over which he had achieved some high level of mastery.
The thought that then came rushing through was that Tom’s dominant characteristics … were those of his heart and his soul.
Tom was a gentleman and a gentle man. And at the same time, he was … intense, passionate, courageous and fearless. He would be sometimes in your face, but always in your defense … as he applied his vast knowledge in heartfelt efforts to make your life better.
Tom lived always in the relentless grip of an insatiable hunger for knowledge and discovery. Always in search for knowledge that would make life better for those he loved and for all the others on the planet who might never know him.
As Becky’s health stumbled for a time, Tom focused on doing additional research and providing information that could be helpful in alleviating discomfort and accelerating healing.
When on his mission, Tom wasn’t shy either, nor was he bound by protocol or convention. When he wanted to talk, he’d race in, and without sitting down, begin reporting on his findings and giving advice. This was Tom, selflessly demonstrating his love for his cousin. It doesn’t get any better or purer than that.
Done too soon? I think not.
Like it is for each of us, Tom’s time on earth was defined at the moment his life was first imagined. So, he left us at the right time. It was His time. But all of that doesn’t make this moment easier for we who remain. We know him. We love him and we’re sure gonna miss him. I guess that’s just natural.
In the first reading we heard, “But the just man, though he die early, shall be at rest. For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years. Having become perfect in a short while, he reached the fullness of a long career; for his soul was pleasing to the LORD.”
In the second reading, we are consoled further, with, “Let them find rest from their labors, for their works accompany them."
And in the gospel of this liturgy, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him (on) the last day."
On Monday, Father Dan gently and lovingly shared a tiny bit of his experiences with Tom in the hospital. From Dan’s story, I am excited knowing that we now have a genius saint in heaven. I am also deeply relieved knowing that, “If God ever needs help solving any of the world’s problems, he now has the top man, right by His side, to help Him out.
And finally, Tom was prophetic. Two great personal quotes from his web site:
" Our Planet Will Know Peace ...
When Everyone's TRUE NEEDS are Acknowledged and
— Tommy Cichanowski —
And, and I think I like this one best…
I think its really neat to be able to sit back and consider the years and say to yourself, " WOW, What a Grand Adventure My Life Has Been !
— Tommy Cichanowski —
This eulogy was lovingly prepared and delivered by our dear cousin Bud, to whom I am grateful for these beautiful words and his permission to publish this on Tommy’s website.
Tommy, I miss you.