If you had asked me, what was the one thing in my life that I was the proudest of, I would have been able to answer without hesitation that it was my son.
Sean was good-natured, cheerful, always willing to help. I can't remember ever hearing him say anything unkind. He was one of the smartest people I have ever known, but life was hard for him. He searched for happiness but he never found it. He was my only child, and I loved him dearly. There will always be an empty place in my heart.
-- Donna O'Gara, Sean's mother
To my beloved son Sean:
I hope these words, and our memories of you, will be more durable than a few words carved into a stone headstone.
Oh, Sean! I miss you so much!
I was so very proud of what you had accomplished in your life, and I had so many hopes and dreams for your bright future. Those hopes and dreams died with you. Along with a big part of my heart.
Donna and I looked to you as a loved one who would walk beside us all of our lives. Now there is only emptiness, and a most terrible sense of loss.
- The loss of someone to love and to love us back.
- The loss of our son, and our friend.
Your spectrum of abilities was very much a combination of peaks and valleys. In things covered by your peaks - your programming ability, for example - you were a world-class talent. And in your valleys - interacting with people, etc. - you always had to struggle.
I know you were often frustrated at dealing with life's problems. I'm happy that I worked hard to try to find ways for you to be happier - and sad that I ultimately failed in that effort. I regret that I was too blind to see the depths of your unhappiness. You hid it well - from everyone.
You achieved so much in life, and were loved by so many people. If only you could have understood how many people loved and cared for you!
I will learn what lessons I can from your life, and from our relationship. And I will use them to live the rest of my life as a better person.
I wish I had appreciated our similarities more, and cared less about our differences. Now when I see a clever programming trick or a neat mechanical gizmo, I want to show it to you just like always, so you can appreciate it too. And I cannot. And I miss that so - having a son who shared my appreciation of such things!
I remember how, about six months ago, you very earnestly discussed with me an idea you'd had: How "it could really be true" that, if time-travel is ever invented in the future, people from that future time could be "jumping back" to our time. Coming back to rescue sick people moments before they die, swapping them for duplicate inanimate bodies, and then whisking the dying people back to the future to be cured and to live new lives.
I replied that I thought your idea would make a terrific science-fiction story, but was pretty improbable in the real world.
I don't believe in any sort of "afterlife." But I do believe the future will exist. And perhaps it exists now - we know so little about how Time works. So I can still hope that your strange idea was right. And that somewhere, or somewhen, we can be together again. A grieving father's grasping at straws? Probably. But straws are all I have, now. Time will tell.
Sean, I thank you for being part of my life for 32 years. And for letting me experience the love of a father for his son. That was a treasure beyond value, to me! I know I told you that a number of times as part of our communications over the last year about the value of having a family. That memory gives me comfort, now.
I can't tell you how good it felt, just having you call me "dad."
And I just can't bring myself to say "goodbye." I can say only this:
I WAS SO VERY PROUD OF YOU, SEAN.
I LOVE YOU, MY SON. AND I ALWAYS WILL.
-- Dad (Mike O'Gara)
What can I say about Sean that would fit into only a paragraph or two? Sean was a simple and yet a complicated man. But If I had to choose one word to describe him, it would be the word "honest." He is the most honest person I have ever met ....... and so darn on-time. He showed up 5 minutes early for our first date and stood by the front door until his watch turned 00 (Sean wore a digital watch) before he knocked on the door. Ever since then it became a joke between us to see who can race to the front door first. I beat him a couple of times; I opened the door just a split second before he knocked. To others, it was perhaps a bit juvenile seeing 2 grown adults standing at the opposite sides of the door waiting for the clock to turn. But to Sean, nothing is too juvenile and I was his willing accomplice.
Throughout the years that I knew him, I saw the many facets of his personality. I saw them all in his eyes, which I must admit was the feature that made me fall in love with him in the first place. I saw his shyness the first time we met and he offered to buy me coffee and cookies, I saw his pride when he showed me the tape of the "Bouncing Man" (Sean's very first computer graphic animation), I saw his patience when he was talking to my then 3-year-old adopted sister in broken Indonesian, I saw his often dry sense of humor when we both fell asleep on the couch in our honeymoon suite on our wedding night, and I saw his humility when we both realized that there was no easy way out from the differences we were facing in our marriage. But I never once saw a defeated or a broken-spirited man.
The Sean I came to know and care for was a thoughtful, caring, intelligent, funny and sometime exasperating man all rolled into one, and that's how I will always remember him.
-- Titi O'Gara, Sean's former wife
When Sean was in his teens, he encouraged me to get an Amiga computer (like his) because I was interested in painting, and the Amiga had great graphics power. He brought his Amiga to our house (about thirty miles) so that I could borrow it and use it for a week or so--even though that meant he would be without it. He discovered that he had forgotten the mouse, and so with no grumbling he turned around and went back home to get it, returning with it about an hour later. Also, he showed me how to use the computer.
Years later, and several computers later, when I wanted to get a new computer for painting and was considering another Amiga, this time he advised me NOT to get an Amiga, because at this point other computers were better.
He was raised and educated by intelligent, caring parents; he was very smart and talented, and he had a dream job. I thought he had everything.
-- Nancy Vogel, his grandmother
I took Sean to Magic Mountain when he was quite young. We had a good time riding all the different rides including the roller coasters, even the one that has loop the loop. He went with me several times and stayed a few days with me at Lake Isabella. We would go fishing in the forenoon and ride our bikes in the afternoon. Sometimes we would do a little work around the house.
When we were at Lake Isabella we had some very interesting talks about many things, such as school, work, and God. Sean had many questions about religion and I tried to answer them the best I could. We quite often prayed together. I remember one time he said we are going to pray first aren't we? I don't remember the occasion, perhaps we were going fishing or starting on our way home. I also remember telling him that according to the Bible we are all sinners and that God is a loving and forgiving heavenly father. And that one thing to always remember is that you can pray any time under any conditions wherever you may be. Now these are my precious memories.
Sean, it is my hope and prayer that when you got to heaven's gate that St. Peter or whoever was at the gate greeted you with, "Hi, Sean, you were a good man and you are welcome. We are glad you are here. I know you will like your new home." And I can just visualize that when my time on earth is over and I get to heaven that I will meet my parents and brothers and sisters that have gone ahead of me and then I can see you, Sean, standing a little way back with your mouth closed and a smile on your face. And then we will meet and hug each other, and you will say, glad you are here, grandpa, remember when we went to Catalina and to Magic mountain, where we rode those scary roller coasters? And the good times we had at Lake Isabella where we fished, rode our bikes and talked about many things.
-- Grant Vogel, Sean's grandfather
I was standing on a ladder reaching for a box when I realized I was thinking about Sean. Actually, I always think about Sean when I go up ladders because he used to tell me how ridiculous it was to have a sign on the next-to-the-top step saying, ‘Danger! Don’t stand on the step. You might lose your balance.’
Whenever Sean ran across something he found to be particularly silly, he would have one of his quiet little internal chuckles which would leak out as a tiny little chortle. I remember it well because I heard it often since he found much that was silly. What a great sense of humor that boy had.
The other day I reached for the can of chocolate to make some hot chocolate and I thought about Sean. I always think about Sean when I make hot chocolate. I remember one of our late-night sessions at Athena Systems where I made hot chocolate for everyone and Sean took doubles. He loved chocolate. He once invited me to join him during a chance meeting at Fuddruckers. At the order desk, they recognized him, called him by name and gave him a double chocolate brownie without his even asking. Seems he was a chocolate-regular there. I think he was a little embarrassed at being found out.
When I think of the neighborhood kids going back to school, I think of the efficacy of home schooling, and I think about Sean. Sean’s mother’s success at home-schooling him provided the inspiration for me to try to do the same. And when I wrote an article for the Orange County Register about home schooling, Sean (and Donna) were some of the shining examples I used. During that period, when all the kids seemed to be teenagers/growing so quickly, my step daughter Allison pronounced Sean, “really, really cute.”
The adult Sean reminded me a lot of my husband John, who was also Sean’s friend. I know that John loved Sean although I think he wouldn’t have said that so openly. And I know that John, who only respected ability, respected Sean.
I miss Sean. It was Sean who I was hoping to see again after my self-inflicted, three-year hiatus in Washington State. I miss his quirks and attitude and shyness and brilliance. I miss whatever history I shared with him—from being allowed to share his room one night when he was a newborn, to working at Athena Systems with him there. And I hate having waited too long to contact him and so having missed the opportunity to see him, joke with him, eat chocolate with him, and work with him.
-- Ginger Clark, Long-time friend
If there is an afterlife, the kind where our spirit creates the weather, the expansive sky, the planets, the clouds, the rain; then I hope Sean - I hope you are up there - making the blue sky over California a little bit brighter, the clouds a tinsy bit crisper, the ocean colors a little bit richer - tweaking it all just a bit with the grandest computer there is - making the picture prettier in a way only you could.
We'll miss you.
-- Bev Tookey, a former co-worker
I was a founder of Rezn8 with Paul back in 1987. I heard about Sean several weeks ago and refused to accept it. For the few years I knew him at Rezn8 I grew to like him very much. It's a shock to me and I'm very saddened that I won't be able to talk with him again.
I don't remember when exactly I hired Sean, but I certainly remember how amazed I was at his talent and humility. I represented the technical side of Rezn8 and so he reported to me. I can't remember ever asking him to program something he couldn't do. In fact, in the years since I have brought up his name many times as one of the most gifted problem solvers I had worked with.
We had a tradition back then of taking prospective employees to lunch. I remember the walk to the cafe. I asked him what he liked to do, he said "program". Anything else, I asked "no", and that was that. Finally he said he wanted to learn how to fly a helicopter so he was taking lessons as he got the money. I also remember him only wanting to eat burgers at burger-king. Nothing on it. After a while they saw him coming and would have his order ready. I think everyone thought him just a bit curious at first, but a lot of that was by his design. As I got to know him better I could see a lot of depth and fun.
I have sons of my own, now in their twenties. I can't imagine your pain, but it should certainly help to know what an influence he was to so many people, in spite of his shyness.
When I came upon your web page I began to weep. I guess when you see pictures and realize that it's true the emotions come out.
I'm so sorry you've lost such a great guy.
-- Evan Ricks - Former employer
We met Sean only recently, at the O'Gara reunion at Asilomar. He struck us as a gentle young man with much behind his quiet exterior that would repay deeper acquaintance. The words of you who have contributed to this web-site confirm that he was indeed a kind, talented, and loving person. His loss reminds us that taking time to know "quiet others" can enrich both us and them. With you we mourn his loss.
-- Susan (Sleeth) and Fred Mosedale (Susan is Mike's first cousin)