By Thomas P. Larkin II.
Here is the letter our son wrote about his Dad – Mayo Larkin.
I hope this email finds everyone safe and healthy as we enter the holiday season. I know many of us spent Thanksgiving a little differently than in years past, but I hope we can still be reminded of all the blessings we have and the fun events with family and friends that will return in 2021.
As most of you know, my Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia about 4 years ago. It’s been a very difficult reality for our whole family to face, especially for my Dad. We all know my Dad loves to talk and tell stories. In the early stages after his diagnosis, we talked a lot about what he was afraid of, which mostly centered around the inevitability that he would lose his ability to remember and tell stories, and talk about everything he had done and learned in his life. I think he was equally scared that the good he did and fought for would be forgotten if he couldn’t remember it. I, of course, told him that would never be the case and reminded him that he lived a life full of helping others that impacted so many, and those deeds would not be forgotten. Despite his fears and worries about the impact of this terrible disease, he was committed to staying as positive and upbeat as possible. He has never felt sorry for himself, still laughs a lot, and tries so hard to connect with everyone he sees. He has told me many times that “I’ve lived too good of a life to complain, I wouldn’t change a thing.” His positive mindset from day 1 is what’s helped me get through the last four years, and will be what I rely on to get me through the road ahead. As hard as it’s been to watch the disease take hold, his strength and positive outlook has always been there and, for me, it’s been the thing I’ve grasped on to the most.
It’s interesting the places your mind goes when the greatest man you know is faced with losing his memories of a life lived helping others. I found myself regularly lost in thought, thinking of ways to make sure to keep those memories and good acts alive. My Dad is so proud of what he did, always wanted to make a difference anywhere he could, and would help anyone out if he thought he could. He cares about the people around him, loves his family and friends immensely, and always wants the best for everyone.
This reflection brought me back to my time at Gonzaga. After taking a class midway through my junior year with a great professor who pushed me outside of my comfort zone, I found myself creating the GU Mock Trial Team with her and another student. By my senior year, we’d qualified for regionals, and later for nationals. The problem was, we had no funding from the University to travel. After being rejected by the Dean, I remember calling home frustrated and dejected. My Dad listened and told me to calm down and to not let one set-back take away from the success the team had experienced. A week later, we suddenly had our funding to travel for the mock trial finals, and ended with a top 25 finish. I never thought to ask why the Dean changed his mind to provide the funding, but a few years later while in law school I found out why. As it turns out, after my call home and to the surprise of no one reading this letter, my Dad called in a few old favors with some of the Jesuits at Gonzaga. They walked into the Dean’s office and reminded him of what’s important and that it’s his job to further the passions of the University’s students and to encourage them toward their dreams, not to crush them. Fast forward 20+ years, and the GU Mock Trial program is one of the most successful in the country. Since the program’s inception, Gonzaga has sent a team to Nationals 20 times, with Top Ten finishes in 2005 and 2010. In 2001, the team acquired (and still holds) the national record for the most All-American Awards at any one national tournament, topping out at five awards.
In the reflection of these memories, I realized I had figured out a way to keep my Dad’s spirit and positive impact alive even when his memories were fading. Last Christmas, I was able say thank you to my Dad for silently helping me on my path, and for always going the extra mile to anyone who needed help along their path. After much coordination and planning, Gonzaga University announced the formation of the endowed Honorable Thomas P. Larkin Scholarship for Mock Trial. On Christmas Eve, with our whole family around, I read the press release from Gonzaga and told my dad that what he did would now be remembered forever, the stories would still be shared, and the good work he had done would not be forgotten. He laughed and cried, we all did, and it was the best I’d felt since we got the news about his diagnosis.
Kerri and I have committed to funding the first half of the endowment. Our goal is $100,000, which will provide a scholarship each year in perpetuity to a student who participates in the Mock Trial Program. My parents will be sent a letter each year from the student who receives this scholarship and they will be reminded of the good work that continues to be done in the name of my Dad, who helped so many along life’s journey. I’m writing this letter to you as an update on how things are going for my Dad and also to ask for your participation in helping us reach our scholarship goal.
Please think about the love and memories you hold, and consider donating to the Honorable Thomas P. Larkin Scholarship for Mock Trial to help us keep his memory alive the best way we could think of – by helping other people. Thank you for your consideration. You all have meant so much to my Dad, Mom, and me. I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday season. I can’t wait until we can get together again soon.
Click here to donate now to the Honorable Thomas P. Larkin Scholarship for Mock Trial.
Thomas P. Larkin II