A Tribute to Michael "Frosty" Sibbald Williamson
Michael and his twin brother Christopher were born on February 28, 1989, at St. Mary's Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was a Tuesday, and they were born after 5:00 a.m. On Tuesday, January 25, 2011, Michael passed away, after 5:00 a.m.
The twins were born five weeks early, and Michael had to stay in the hospital for 17 days to gain weight. We always said he was a fighter from the start, with Christopher crowding him in the womb. They spent their school years in Delaware. Growing up, Michael participated in t-ball, YMCA soccer and swimming, Cub Scouts, Webelos and Boy Scouts. He was nominated for Order of the Arrow by his troop. He also served as an Acolyte at Christ Church in Dover, Delaware. During high school he was in the percussion section of the Caesar Rodney High School Marching Band. He graduated from high school in 2007. The twins never lost their love of Tennessee and returned to Knoxville to attend college. Michael got a job at Toyota of Knoxville, and on a hot summer day he earned his nickname "Frosty." In the summer of 2009 he started having abdominal pain. In September a biopsy confirmed he had a softball size, high grade synovial sarcoma tumor. He had surgery followed by high dose chemotherapy, but he finally succumbed to the relentless disease.
Christopher's Tribute at Celebration of Life Services for Michael
In thinking of how to speak about this day to celebrate my brother Michael, a quote came to my mind from Eleanor Powell. And the quote goes "What we are is God's gift to us; and what we become is our gift to God." We are here today because the gift of Michael has been shared with each of us in a very personal way. Michael and I were born identical twins, and that created a special bond as a brother, but also as a best friend. He was someone I shared my life with, day in and day out, for 21 years. We lived together for all of about six months of our lives sharing family, friends and enjoying life together. We shared countless stories, endless memories and many times together. Just the two of us together made each day better.
Michael was always there for me. And at any time of day he would get the desire to make my life better in any way could, without being concerned for himself. I was able to help him and do the same for him, and that really helped me to be able to be with him every day and help him in any way he needed. I will miss being able to return the favor and listen to the story of his life as he told me about many of you here in this room.
It is easy for me to share with you how Michael was as a person because he treated each of us all the same. He treated me the same as he treated all of his friends and anybody who met him. He gathered satisfaction in his daily life from the love he shared with others while receiving love in return.
You could see Michael's love in his smile, that smile that rarely left his face even in the many trials he faced. He shared that smile with everyone and he always wanted to know how your life was going and if he could help. He would just greet you with a smile and he wanted to know how you were doing.
This behavior earned Michael the Citizen of the Year award twice while in high school, in the marching band, and then, in 2010, the Associate of the Year award at Toyota of Knoxville. This was the first associate award in the dealership's thirty-year history. The important thing is that Michael never did anything in his life with the intention of receiving gratification or awards. He just woke up each day as Michael and went about improving the lives of everyone around him.
Spending time with Michael taught me how much he loved people. In our talks just as brother to brother, he mentioned friends and how happy he was to share time with them. And every time he spent with them and things going on in their lives, he just loved to share that. You could see the joy on his face that he received from that.
Later on you could see his eyes light up with every visit that he received at the house or at the hospital, throughout his illness, the joy of people being around him. And he also wanted people to be happy to spend time with him. I saw Michael light up as each visitor came and I saw that affected each person that came to see him, and he saw that. He often spoke of how he knew in tune with each person coming to see him what they needed; and he wanted to make sure that they were taken care of before he took care of himself.
Michael would check up on those people every day and I could tell that it helped him to see how they were doing. Everybody reciprocated those memories in pictures, in words of support in abundant supply on Caringbridge and Facebook.
Living with Michael, again, from day to day in my life has taught me many things, but most of all have hope, courage and faith, regardless of what life throws at you. Michael trusted that we were doing everything possible in the course of his illness, and he hoped that he could affect others through the process.
Michael had courage to never think about himself and never allow any situation in life to get him down. No matter how his illness progressed, his only thought was to think about others and to never complain.
As I took care of Michael through the nights this past Christmas, I was touched as he would try whenever possible to do whatever he could for himself. He did not want us to have to worry about him. One morning as the days became hard, he looked at me and said "I'm sorry I need so much help from you." I quickly told him that I enjoyed it and it was no problem, worried that he was thinking that I was having trouble with it. So I was proud to care for him. I was able to help him around the clock, and we were together day and night. And those are the memories that I will take of Michael, meaning it would be just be him and I, and taking care of him as needed. I was so happy to share my love with Michael, and he was so happy to share it with every one of you.
He never wavered in his faith. He had faith that God would provide for him in life, no matter the circumstance. He rarely worried about the future, money or other stresses of daily life. He lived each day with the faith that he would receive all he needed with work and friends. And he would just get up each day knowing that he would get all he needed.
From the day Michael was diagnosed, he knew that his illness would most likely be terminal, but he always kept his faith that the illness was part of his plan in life. He continued to look at heaven with excitement and never worried about what was to come.
Cancer took Michael's life but it never took Michael away from us. He was still the same selfless but loving strong man of hope, courage and faith that he was throughout his daily life.
I want to thank you all here for being such important factors in Michael's life and an endless sense of happiness for him. I take comfort in the fact that he can now be with each one of us every day, just as he loved doing before.
To me, my brother's legacy will be that he did not rely on the world to make him better. He made the world a better place because he was here with us. So to continue my brother's legacy, we can share the love he had for us with everyone that we encounter in our daily lives.
One last thing to remember is to take time to enjoy each day. Michael's favorite places were to spend time on the Chesapeake Bay and the Smoky Mountains and just take time relaxing and enjoying each day. So take time, take a day every once in a while, get away from the repetitive schedule of life and enjoy the beautiful places Michael cherished so much and enjoy all of the wonderful people that have been in his life.
-- Christopher Williamson
Donate in Michael's Memory
At least 97% of your donation in honor of Michael will be used for peer-reviewed synovial sarcoma research. We hope that this research will better the lives of countless people who face this disease, both now and in the future.
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