My father, Dr. Sheldon Brotman.
While I was having my best day of biking, my dad, Dr. Sheldon Brotman, passed away after a short illness. He had been having tests for a couple weeks while I was at Worlds. My dad, never the best communicator, was not very forthcoming with information. The best my siblings and I could put together was that they could not figure out what was wrong, but we didn't get the impression that anything was life threatening. We believed the worst case was that he needed a liver transplant.
That wasn't the case though, and, we think, even my father was taken by surprise. Two Mondays ago, after going to work to give a lecture, my dad checked himself into the hospital. (This is the epitome of my dad to ignore his own issues to do his work.) Tuesday, he was in the ICU and unconscious/sedated. He never woke up.
My dad's vehicle to his favorite past time, the Whisper.
My father loved the sea and was a great sailor. Annually, for over twenty years, my father has raced from New England to Bermuda and in those first years my siblings and I were his default crew. Later, probably with more experienced crew, he won the race. When not racing, we sailed all the nooks and crannies of the Gulf of Maine from Maine down to Massachusetts when his vacation time permitted it. I can only imagine that he would enjoy having his sailing site come up first above his medical stuff when you google his name.
As a doctor, I can only imagine the void that will be left. My dad helped more people in his life as a trauma doctor than I can conceive of. He was very good at what he did. He always felt he had work to do. There is a shortage of trauma doctors and he seemed compelled to work ridiculous hours to make up for it. My sister swears that when he was preparing for the Bermuda race, studying for a medical examination, and working, he was not sleeping more than four hours a night. I would not be surprised. In his last few jobs, he was called into to start or save failing trauma centers. He might not have done it the nicest way, but you know he got it right. The same was true when when you were learning to sail with him.
Growing up, my father was a great provider. However, my relationship with my father beyond that was tumultuous. We were never close. As adults, I had hoped to fix that. It is a task that will remain undone. While there was progress over the years, I am not sure we would have ever got to what I was looking for. One of the last good conversations I had with my dad was in Michigan on my road trip. We talked about traveling to the Middle East, as I am about to do. He said that one day he hoped to have those same adventures, which (to answer the default question) is one reason why I hope to continue on my adventure after a trip home for the memorial.
My father was certainly challenging at times, but he had a good heart. He will be missed. Sheldon Brotman. 02/19/41-07/18/2010.