Eulogies for SemmyBy: Saly Sebastian | Savy Sebastian | Nathan Lee | Eileen Hu
Introduction by: Angela John
Good Morning, My name is Angela John and I am Semmy chettan's cousin. I am going to give an introduction about our beloved Semmy Chettan.
A wonderful bundle of joy was gifted to the lives of Mary Aunty and Sebastian Uncle on December 12, 1981. They named their first born son, Semmy Mappilaparambil Sebastian.
Growing up, Semmy chettan, was full of surprises. Even as a little kid, he was outgoing and he began to set his goals for the future, starting with playing videogames. He always obeyed his parents and displayed a sense of responsiblity by loving and protecting his younger siblings, Savy and Saly.
He attended St. Peter's Catholic School from kindergarten through the eighth grade. Soon after, he experienced the joys of high school at Loyola Academy and then prospered on to the University of Michigan where he completed his Bachelor's in Computer Engineering.
Semmy chettan pursued his dream of programming videogames with his company, High Voltage Software. He designed a Universal Event System, now in use by multiple projects.
The games Semmy chettan programmed were Dual Masters (PS2), NBA Inside Drive 2004 (X-BOX) which he himself starred in. He was credited in NCAA football 2k3 (PS2,X-BOX,GCN) ToeJam and Earl 3 (X-BOX). His latest work was programming the videogames of Family Guy and 50 Cent.
Semmy chettan worked at Anime Central as a Guest Relations director and staff where he built and maintained a large global contact list. While in Ann Harbor, Michigan, he was a volunteer teaching assistant at a family housing language program.
One of Semmy chettan's dreams which he fulfilled was to travel. His journey led him to many states and even other countries such as Singapore, Japan, India and London. He grew deeper in love with Japanese anime and even managed to learn basic Japanese.
Semmy chettan was a person who lived life to the fullest. He bought two cars with his own money. The Chrysler, Lebarron and his dream car, the Nissan 350 Z.
Semmy chettan also had a strong love for nature. He made a fish pond on his own, in the back yard and even took care of it. In addition, Semmy chettan would even spend Saturday mornings taking care of his fishtank.
His love for the outdoors led him to accomplish other dreams of his, for example, of how he climbed Mount Fuji and the Rocky Mountains (Pike's Peak) in Colorado.
The last dream Semmy chettan was trying to accomplish was flying lessons. Semmy chettan was only two weeks short of attaining his flying license and buying a condo. One of the last dreams that Semmy chettan did accomplish was attending the E3, a game industry convention, restricted to only members of the industry.
Semmy chettan was so lucky to accomplish so many dreams by the age of 24. He lived a full and satisfying life with his family and friends all watching in amazement.
If anyone could have accomplished all of his dreams in such a short amount of time, it would definitely be Semmy chettan. He had a great impact on all of us and always made every moment special. Semmy chettan, We all Love you so much and we will never forget your laugh, kindness, compassion, sense of humor and your love for life.
Semmy chettan, you were always looking for the perfect home, and now you have found it. A heavenly home created by God especially for you.
Semmy chettan, you will always be remembered as an Angel made by God's own hands, to watch over us.
Tuttai always looked out for my brother and I. When I was little, Daddy would take all of us to Mommy's work to drop her off. After a couple years they would leave my brothers at home and take me. And then finally, I was old enough and willing to stay home when I was around 5 or 6. So my parents left the three of us at home at night, with my brothers babysitting. I was asleep on my parents' bed when I just randomly threw up. I was so sleepy and so young that I didn't even really realize what I did so I just went back to sleep swimming in my vomit. The next thing I remember is the light being on and Tuttai standing in the doorway. He was only around 12 as he briefly assessed the situation. I saw him disappear for a minute and then reappear with air freshener spray. He didn't know what else to do so I guess he decided to take care of the smell first.
Tuttai is the only person I know that enjoys and knows the most about his video games. His interest started when he was really little and continued on from there. He enjoyed playing so much that when he was little he would play Mario Brothers on Nintendo while eating breakfast BEFORE going to school. Leave it to Tuttai to find time for Mario before school. He taught me all of my skills which allowed me to compete and show-off to my guy friends. He would make fun of me because the games I liked were non-confrontational, non-violent, and happy. Yet, he would still take the time to tell me what games fit these ideals. He got me so interested in this one game called Harvest Moon where all you do is farm and he kept telling me to buy the game. I told him I couldn't afford it and he said that we didn't even have the right game system to play it at home anyway. But then, sure enough, he comes home with the system and my game for me to play. He did a lot of little surprises like that for my brother and I. He always brought us presents no matter how much money it cost -The best purse I have is from him and the last gift I got from him was from London -a large tin of chocolates that cost him $50.
Tuttai never has anything bad to say about anybody. He would always come home and tell us stories about his friends, his subtle way of bragging about them, and the different things going on in his life. His network of friends extends worldwide, giving him the opportunity to travel to various places like Singapore, London, India, and Japan. Tuttai and I had a game that we would play with our cell phones when we were bored at family parties, competing to see who's phone book had the crazier, more unique names. Since his phone book was international and 100 times bigger, he always won.
Tuttai also has an excellent sense of humor, cracking jokes whenever possible. On one of his trips to Japan, he came back with a kimono a Japanese outfit for my Mom. My Mom didn't know what to do with it saying that it was too expensive and too nice to ever wear anywhere. Tuttai wouldn't have it. He told my Mom to wear it around the house at least, and convinced her one day to do so. Of course he purposely chose the day that was my Mom's surprise birthday party where the entire extended family and friends were coming. He combined his humor with his intelligence. On one of his trips to California when he was about 18, he wanted to buy my Dad an expensive bottle of wine. So he had a friend buy it for him but then he had to figure out how to get it from California to Chicago because underage kids are not allowed to carry alcohol on the plane. So he sneakily mailed the bottle to himself, flew back home, received it in the mail, and then presented it to Daddy. If you asked Tuttai, this naturally smart young man, what was the beginning source to his knowledge he would answer right away that it was Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers.
In 24 years of life, my brother Tuttai accomplished more things than anyone else could possibly even attempt in such a short period. I would always complain to him about how he got everything he wanted and he would explain to me that it was because he worked hard for all of it. I always bragged about his accomplishments because I always looked up him -he is my role model in every aspect. He got his dream job making video games, he got his dream car, he took flight lessons and was about to get his flight license, he went to the E3 gamer's convention which he told us he had dreams of getting into that convention since he was a little boy, and he traveled a lot. I guess the only thing he really didn't get was his condo that he had been looking for. But, as much as I wanted for him to get one -to give me someplace to visit- I was happy that he was at home with us still. Because he still lived with us, I got the opportunity to have more conversations and interactions with him than I would have if he had moved away. Even though he probably wouldn't admit it, even today, I always thought we had a lot in common. I remember how I would occasionally stay up late on school nights in his computer room talking to him about random things or forcing him to listen to my guitar playing before going to bed. The next morning I would wake up and go to school really tired and a little angry at myself for having stayed up so late unnecessarily but then I would remember why I had been up so late and how much I enjoyed those random conversations with my brother and I would be content again.
Tuttai, I'm going to miss everything about you. It is going to be so hard to be at home knowing that you are not going to come back. I still can't comprehend the reality of this all. But, you showed me love in many more ways than the words “I love you” could possibly connote. And even though you're not going to be able to make fun of me anymore for always leaving one cookie in the box or one candy in the tin, even though you are not going to tell me that I complain too much anymore, even though there will be no one badgering me about all the unhealthy food I eat (you were always the most health-minded in the family), even though you are not going to physically be there when I graduate in about a week (you are probably smirking right now because you don't have to sit through that 2 hour long event), even though you are not going to be able to tease me anymore for doing all the girly things I do, even though you are not going to get married and bring me home a sister and a nephew or niece, I know you are here in memory and in spirit -probably laughing at how silly all of us are right now. Recently, I had a brief conversation with you about a friend's friend's death –the one who had the same type of car as you. I told you how my friend referred to his deceased friend as his guardian angel who drives a Z in heaven. I used to wonder if everyone really did have a guardian angel and how cool it would be to know what mine was like. Now I know that they do exist because you were my guardian angel on earth and now you are my guardian angel in heaven.
I've always looked up to and wanted to be like Tuttai for as long as I have been alive. What's a tuttai? Those of you that speak english might think its something from our language, Malayalam, and those that speak Malayalam have no idea what it means. As a little kid whenever someone would ask me what Tuttai meant, my answer would just be “Tuttai means Tuttai”. In Malayalam, we call our older brothers chettan or chettai, but when I was younger that was too hard for me to say, so I would call him Tuttai. Unfortunately, he got stuck with this name and thats the only name I have ever called him. I've always wanted to be like Tuttai for as long as I can remember. When he started going to school, before I was old enough, I would watch from our window as he left and I couldn't wait to start going to school as well. Although, immediately after actually starting school I realized it wasn't that great.
Another thing I have done since I was little was assume he somehow always knew everything, even more than my parents. I remember when I was around 7 or 8 (so he was only around 12), he told me that an asteroid was going to hit the earth and destroy everything some time around the year 2000. I have no idea where he got this information, but I remember being completely terrified and believing him even though my parents said he was wrong. But it was Tuttai that told me, so I believed him over them. Until around the time he started going to college, I shared a room with him, and every night as we were going to bed, we would talk about all kinds of things for at least a hour or so. A lot of the time I would ask him about something I didn't know, and whatever his answer was I would automatically take as fact, since to me he was as infallible as the Pope.
Thats how our relationship was, he was my older brother and I listened to and followed him all the time – that was always enough for me. He used to play video games (like Zelda or Earthbound or Final Fantasy) all the time when we were younger. I never really liked playing the games, but I always loved watching him play. I would just sit for hours not playing the game, just watching him work his way through, offering suggestions whenever I had any. In fact, I continued to do that up to a few years ago when he started to get to busy to spend a lot of time sitting and playing video games. This wasn't restricted to video games either. I owe my interest in computers directly to my brother. When we first got a computer when I was in third or fourth grade, I would just silently sit and watch him as he learned to use it. I'm sure this would have been extremely annoying having someone just sitting there quietly watching the screen as you're doing things on the computer, but for the first year or so, thats basically all I would do, and from that I learned all the fundamental computer skills and even the basics of computer programming.
Since Monday, I've been trying to think of what I could possibly say now to let everyone know my brother as well as I did, but there are too many things he accomplished and did to fit in such a short time that there's no possible way to get to everything. He was smart, talented, and hard working, to the point where him just having lunch with someone from another company scared his company enough into giving him a raise and as soon as they got word he was even considering another job he started getting letters from the company's owner trying to persuade him to stay. He always would work towards what he wanted and would always get it. I never actually needed to buy anything, because almost anything I wanted, he would have already bought and would let me borrow, from video games to cameras to cars to even his dress shoes which I used until I finally bought my own pair a few months ago. He loved nature and the outdoors, traveling around the world to India, Japan, England, and most of the United States (everywhere interesting at least). He was adventurous, he flew planes, even bungee jumped once, and hiked up a few mountains. For anyone who hasn't hiked up an entire mountain before, its quite difficult. When we went to Pike's Peak in Colorado last year, my dad dropped him off at the base of the mountain and the rest of the family opted to drive up, which is like a two hour drive to the top, and meet him at the top. Now, the altitude is so high that just from being at the top of the mountain (having exerted no effort), I was light-headed and dizzy and feeling sick the entire time up there. In fact, the altitude alone was enough to get my mom so nauseous and sick that she was actually throwing up. On top of that, a good portion of the mountain is above the tree line. Above the tree line, lightning strikes frequently, and hikers have even been hit by lightning since there is no protection. Yet, this didn't phase my brother and he somehow managed to make the 6 or 8 hour hike to the top with nothing but his backpack and some water.
And now comes the hardest part, the end. To see my brother unexpectedly pass away earlier this week was the scariest and saddest thing that has ever happened to me. But while reflecting over the past few days, I've come to realize that In some ways, even though he was so young, his story was already complete. Most other 24 year olds would be just starting to work towards their life goals, yet he already accomplished just about everything he ever wanted. If you're thinking that he missed out on getting married, you must not have ever asked him about it. He would somewhat jokingly say he never wanted to get married. I loved him very much, and will miss him until I die, but I know that until then, he will be watching out for me and guiding me just like he always did.
I met Semmy after graduating high school at an anime convention, Anime Central, held locally every year. When we met, we immediately started to break the ice to find some common ground since we were the only Asians in our age group on staff. Since then, he and I have had our share of events like late night conversations to divert our boredom, his now famous BBQ's held every Memorial Day weekend, and parties celebrating random occassions. Needless to say, we became very good friends. I'd like to say a little poem I made for him.
The angels in heaven cried when your time came to pass.
He was one of the very few people that made me push myself to pursue my dream as an actor. When I saw him at the premiere of the movie I was in, called "The Gift", he came up to me, gave me a hug, and said "Man, I'm proud of you." I wish I could say all the thoughts and all the words that come to mind when I think of Semmy. And we've all thought the same thoughts and words. Giving, passionate, dedicated, honest, noble, hilarious, genuine, funny, and smart, caring, loving..and the list goes on and on. Semmy, you're one of the reasons why I'll never quit persuing my dreams. Semmy, I love you, man. I miss you already."
I met Semmy five years ago as a mere staffer at Acen 2001, Semmy and me being two geeky college kids who had the auspicious job of following famous Japanese people around a setting of even more geeky people. I didn't expect very much from that first year; I also didn't know that I would be meeting someone who would become my best friend, partner and other half. A few years later, Semmy and I would run the Guest Relations department together at Acen 2003, and even though I probably received the most credit for that year, between the two of us, it was definitely Semmy that was the better half.
Through the years, despite being unable to see each other often, Semmy was there for me thick and thin. We even said that someday we would buy an tropical island together. A friend of mine had said to me, "You know...once in a while your friends act really stupid or do dumb things, but...I never once heard you say anything but good things about Semmy." And it was true. There were never any downs in my friendship with Semmy, only ups. I don't think anyone understood me like he did. We never argued and rarely had differing opinions. In fact, when he was expressing his love for the recent Ice Age sequal and I said that I didn't care enough for the first Ice Age movie, he said, "Wow, a point of disagreement. Finally." Everything that you wish your friends were, Semmy was to me...
And to a whole lot of other people. I don't just represent myself today. I also represent Semmy's numerous friends in Japan who loved him as much as I did. Even though Semmy could not speak Japanese fluently, he had a magical ability to communicate with our guests that even many of our Japanese speakers did not have. Without speaking their language, he touched the hearts of many of the people who worked with him. These people that cannot be here today have asked that I speak on their behalf as well.
I plan to buy our island someday. Because it was a dream that both Semmy and I shared. I believe I speak for everyone when I say, "Thank you for the memories, Semmy. We love you."