Life begins with love, is maintained with love, and ends with love.
- Tsoknyi Rinpoche
Friends, this tribute aims to convey the spirit, courage, humor and brilliance of a remarkable man, Michael Culliton. Michael is a Senior Partner of GLP, a seasoned teacher, a thoughtful consultant, a wise mentor, and a lifelong learner. If you know Michael, you are a lucky, lucky person!
Back in the Fall of 2015, Michael was diagnosed with cancer. He wrote about it with rare honesty: One of the most challenging things for me to figure out is who to tell, when, and how much information to share. I find myself feeling really awkward. True to Michael’s generous nature, he wondered about what was best for others, offered sensitive and light-hearted ideas for how to approach the topic, and shared what everyone wanted to know but may not have felt comfortable asking. In short, he knew:
- The cancer is not curable
- It can be treated and managed
- In terms of time, I have years -- better than months, not as good as decades.
With his devoted partner, Bruce, and their dear friends, Michael decided to use his last years to their absolute fullest. He enjoyed trips he always wanted to take and brought love wherever he went. Michael also continued to bring his head, heart, and hands to a stream of challenging GLP projects – and made contributions to the work of diverse organizations such as:
- Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity, Home Weatherization Assistance Program
- Collaborative work between the State of New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department and the University of New Mexico Continuing Education
- State of California First 5 Program
- St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center.
Even in just the last few years, numerous courses have benefitted from Michael’s empathy for his learners, attention to detail, and diligent research. He has built deep, collaborative relationships with clients and colleagues. While many people in their last phase of life might have chosen to sit on the bench and let others play, Michael has spent the last several years hitting home runs!
Last week, GLP partners and staff had its bi-annual gathering and, despite deep wishes to do so, Michael couldn’t join us. Instead, he sent us a note, some of which we’d like to share with you now:
I cannot tell you how delighted I feel when I think of all of you gathered to support the opening and writing of this next chapter of such a powerful organization. Buckle up and hang on to your hats, friends! I am confident GLP is on the edge of some major growth and exciting changes!
This same delight gives me pause in terms of writing this note. [Bruce and I] are feeling as though we need to pull back and regroup (like those little turtles some of us have seen at the lake when we met in Raleigh). This morning, during the meeting with the oncologist to explore next steps, we decided that it is time to enroll in hospice. This means I have [very limited time] to close out this wonderful life.
So, dear GLP community, we invite you to take a moment and celebrate the beautiful man who has brought so much to our field of learning – and, most importantly, to our sense of wonder and appreciation.
It’s a gift we’ve been given to share memories and appreciations with Michael while he is still with us. If you would like to do so, please click on “Leave Comments” directly below this post. You know that Michael would be keen to reply to each of you personally, but that will not be possible. However, he will experience great joy in reading your thoughts.
Michael, thank you for teaching us how to end a life on earth with gratitude, passion and love. You will live with us way beyond this world!