Pulskamp News

Family History, News, and Plans for the World Wide Gathering of the Pulskamps August 1-3, 2008

Seán David Pulskamp

Posted on December 18, 2014 - Filed Under Uncategorized

My brother’s grandson, Seán David Pulskamp, died recently at the age of 19. He was a great kid and left far too soon. My brother spoke at his memorial service and I wanted to share his words with you all. Cherish each other!


To all of our friends and family: Good after noon, as good as it can be. And, yes, in spite of our hearts being heavy and filled with sadness, it can still be a good afternoon.

I’m honored to be able to speak today. For those who don’t know me, my name is John Pulskamp. I am Seán’s paternal grandfather.

Seán started out in this life a little early. He was born prematurely and spent, what seemed to us, as an awfully long time in the hospital before he could come home. So, physically, he started out very small and frail. But over time he grew to be big and strong, and to be honest, very remarkably handsome as well.

Like every family I’ve ever known, Seán’s family had their own sets of difficulty. There were times when his father couldn’t be with him, and eventually his parents parted ways. Judging from the fine young man Seán grew to be, it appears that he weathered the storm quite well. Fortunately, Seán was able to continue to spend time with both of his parents. Whatever difficulties there might have been within the family Seán was always loved, aware of that love, and was able to reciprocate with love as well. In addition to his parents he was blessed with grandparents, many other family members, and a little sister, Jade, whom he cherished.

I am fortunate that during the past few months I was able to talk with my grandson about several things. He told me he had been thinking of attending Peirce College. We discussed it a bit, and told him that I’d go with him to help get through all the red tape involved with registration and selecting classes. I also had talked to him about the wonderfully educational experience of traveling, not so much to tourist places, but to places where one would be able to meet and mix with regular people from very different backgrounds. We talked about youth hostels, and even kicked around the idea of maybe taking a little trip here in the U.S. and staying at some hostels. Unfortunately, well . . .

A quick story about Seán’s name: Backing up a couple of generations . . My father’s name was John Joseph, to avoid confusion and since my middle name was Richard, I was always called by the nickname, “Dick.” at home. At school and everywhere else I was known as “John” which eventually created confusion anyway, especially when people would call on the phone and ask for John. My dad would end up with my calls, and I with his. Seán’s father, John Thomas or Tommy, and I ended up with the same sort of ancestral problem. We were each known as “John” to our friends and co-workers, and just as I was called “Dick” by my parents, Seán’s father has always been “Tommy” to us. When Seán was born, Tommy said he was going to avoid all the confusion with the names, so he and Sharon named their baby “Seán” instead of “John.” Try as they might, though, the confusion, though minimized, was not entirely eliminated. You see, the name “Seán,” in the Irish, is usually anglicized to “John,” and there are a number of people who have always called me by that name, “Seán,”anyway And so, it continues.

Seán’s mother and her family are Jewish; his father’s family was already one of mixed cultures. Seán’s paternal grandmother is Diné (pronounced “dih neh”) or Navajo. His paternal grandfather, myself, came from a somewhat typical Irish-American Catholic background. Seán was proud of his Native ancestry and occasionally was able to attend various pow wows around southern California, and on at least one occasion was able to visit the Navajo Reservation, “the Rez,” and meet loads of Navajo cousins, aunts, and uncles. According to Diné tradition one of the four sacred stones should be worn, sort of as a prayer, and as a way for the deities and others in the spirit world to recognize one as Diné. Seán is being buried wearing a beautiful turquoise necklace.

With all this mixed cultural background there are quite likely things that could result in questions, or even misunderstandings. The funerary traditions of Jews and Catholics may differ a bit, but the general outlook on death is probably fairly similar. For the very traditional Diné people, and maybe for Jews, some of the Irish traditions might seem completely irreverent. Today, though, in spite of any cultural differences there might be, we are all one people tied to together by Seán’s life, and yes, sadly, by Seán’s death.

Many, or probably even most of us, upon learning of a loved one’s death begin to mentally go through a painful thought process bringing up a litany of things we could have, or should have, done differently. This is natural, but I think not helpful. Each of us has a life to live, and when we are occupied taking care of one thing, there is always something else we could be doing instead. It is fundamentally fruitless to grieve about what we could have, or should have, done with Seán while he was with us. I can’t imagine that Seán, in any way, felt that any one of us even slightly let him down, or disappointed him. If you are having these kinds of feelings or doubts, forgive yourself! What we can do though is to look around, think about the people you know, especially those whom you may have offended in some way, or friends with whom you’ve lost touch. If one of these, still living, were to die, what would go through your mind as far as the “what you could have done, or should have done” for them or with them? To honor Seán, do those things! It’s never too early to avoid being too late. I think Seán would be pleased to have us honor him in that way.


One Response to “Seán David Pulskamp”

  1. Yvette Brownstone on January 5th, 2015 12:28 am

    I pray for healing of hearts and Gods Comfort for your family for this great loss.

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