HE IS WALKING.
Where doesn't matter: Maybe to the store or school, maybe just
down the sidewalk, under trees, past all the neat, perfect
houses here in neat and perfect Wheaton, Ill. It is early
morning, still quite cool. His wife has already left on the
train to Chicago. He tires easily, though this isn't the season
for that; you can smell summer coming. His face has swollen
because of the steroids, but he still has his hair, humor,
charm. Tim Gullikson has a Nike sweat top on. He doesn't look bad.
He's walking alone, and it's odd, but this song he hasn't
thought of since high school choir drops into his head and onto
his tongue, like a stone. Just appears. Gullikson blurts the
first line: I love life. His voice sounds strange, out loud like
that. He waits a moment, feet still moving; then all the words
come, and he can't help it, but he begins to sing, voice soft
and hesitant, then stronger:
I love life
I want to live
To drink of life's fullness
Take all it can give
I love life
Every moment must count
To glory in its sunshine
And revel in its fount
I love life....
May 28, 1995
The French Open begins May 29.
Soon, his brother will be in Paris.
It came with sleep. It came from breathing each other's air,
each other's dreams, night after night. Some say identical twins
gain their closeness earlier, jostling in the womb, long before
they learn of concepts like love and cancer and Australia. But
what's nine months compared with 18 years? You want to bond with
somebody? Try sleeping in the same small bed with your double
for 18 years, an imaginary line down the middle of the sheets
and one leg flopping over each side. Tim is 43, and his wife
knows: He has to have the left side still. Only recently,
hundreds of miles away in Palm Coast, Fla., Tom Gullikson gave
up the right.
"When we took naps in kindergarten, they'd always try to
separate us," Tim says. "Everybody slept on these rugs you
brought from home, and by the time nap was over, we'd have moved
our rugs. We'd be next to each other."
It came with waking, too. The boys would open their eyes to a
fresh Wisconsin morning, and from across the street would come
the pure solid pock of a tennis ball hitting a backboard.
Someone would play the bagpipes, badly, and they would run to
the courts of La Crosse State University and watch tennis class.
By the time they were eight, the buzz-headed twins had become
mascots; college boys hustled bets with suckers who thought they
couldn't lose to kids. The twins took home a quarter each: their
first prize money.
"I can't remember anything they did separately," says their
mother, Joyce. "They were just ... together."
Always. Tim and Tom--everyone gave up guessing who was who and
just called them TimTom or Gully or Hey--played in the same
infield as Little Leaguers and, when the family moved six miles
to Onalaska, starred in the same hoops backcourt at Onalaska
High. They lived in a dorm at Northern Illinois University in
DeKalb, starred on the college tennis team, coached at clubs and
went on the pro tour just a year apart. They didn't marry twins,
but close: TimTom landed sorority sisters from Northern
Illinois, then cobbled unspectacularly successful careers as
tennis pros that never saw one offend the other by becoming too
much better. Their head-to-head singles record was 2-2, and
their best individual showings at Grand Slam tournaments ended
in the same round-Tim's in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, Tom's
in the quarters at the U.S. Open. Is it any surprise that their
greatest success came as a team, when they reached the Wimbledon
doubles final in 1983? After the '86 U.S. Open they retired for
different reasons, but, of course, it all came out the same way.
In 1977 a German player named Karl Meiler felt both edges of the
Gullikson sword: Two weeks after losing to the righthanded Tim,
Meiler lost to the lefthanded Tom. The brothers'
serve-and-volley attacks, their solid, hustling demeanors, were
so similar that Meiler was certain they were one man. "Who is
this Gullikson guy?" Meiler said. "Two weeks ago he beat me
playing with his right hand. Now he beats me with his left."
Poor Meiler. He knew more than he knew; even now, while Tom
lives in Florida with his wife and two kids and Tim lives in
Wheaton with his wife and two kids, the Gulliksons think with
one mind. "When they aren't together," says Tim's wife,
Rosemary, "they aren't complete." It goes beyond finishing each
other's sentences. Tim is more intense, gabby, inquisitive; Tom
more independent, self-contained; yet neither can remember a
time when he was surprised by the other. Their mother tells how
Tim will call from one part of the country, and as soon as he
hangs up, the phone will ring with Tom; it has happened so often
that she doesn't find it strange. The twins have an older sister
and a younger brother, but that is mere family. "Even with
distance between them, they can read each other's minds," says
Hank Jungle, Tim's first coach and sponsor. "It's like this
wavelength that the rest of us don't receive."
So, no, it isn't a shock to find that when the two became
coaches, their successes ran like two rails bolted to the same
upward track. Tom, as the head of the U.S. Tennis Association's
touring pro program, coached Jennifer Capriati during some of
her happiest years as a pro, consults regularly with Todd Martin
and holds the highest coaching position in America: Davis Cup
captain. Tim, after coaching Martina Navratilova, Mary Joe
Fernandez and Aaron Krickstein, fine-tuned Pete Sampras's game
and guided his elevation from an erratic talent stuck at No. 6
to the top ranking and four Grand Slam titles. Amazing, really,
when you consider that these sons of a heartland barber never
took private lessons, didn't hit the pro circuit until well into
their 20's and never bought into tennis's aura of glitz and ego.
Yet over the last five years the Gully twins have quietly had a
hand in nearly every notable turn in the American game.
"They are two of the most unusual human beings I know," says
sports psychologist Jim Loehr. "I've worked with thousands of
athletes, and these guys are so exceptional. From La Crosse,
Wisconsin--for god's sake--they've become cornerstones of United
Jim Courier says it's no coincidence: Both Tim and Tom caught on
with top players by knowing how to keep them calm and by
defusing the most explosive coach-player dynamic in sports. In
top-level tennis the player usually holds the whip hand because
he hires and fires the coach, but the Gullys support without
being yes-men, criticize without burning bridges. And they
inspire loyalty. Martin moved to Palm Coast to be near Tom,
though his primary coach is Robert Van't Hof; Courier says he
will play Davis Cup anytime Tom needs him; Sampras marvels at
Tim's rare security.
"Players respect Tim and Tom because they're grounded, they care
deeply what happens, they care for their families, and they
never got big heads," Loehr says. "When you're with them, you
swear you're with a brother or someone you've known 30 years."
Yet the Gully life was more complex than such decency implies.
Somewhere early on, a balance was established, an unspoken
agreement that the brothers would remain absolutely even. When
the two would play in tournaments, the wives could count on it:
If either Tim or Tom got up a break, he would subtly let down,
give the other a chance to get back into the match. The two
never wanted to beat each other so much as remain tied,
together. Ideally their careers should have been frozen at that
one magic week in 1981 when both Gullys were ranked 44th in
singles-one of the few times a computer made a wish come true.
Even now Tim can't abide the fact that Tom is a better golfer.
And pool? Once in college, after a Friday night on the town, Tim
came home to find Tom shooting pool with a friend. Tom, older by
five minutes, was always a better pool player than Tim.
So Tim walked in, picked up a ball and shattered it against the
Tom told him to go sleep it off. "Yeah, sure, you think you're
Willie Mosconi, big pool star!" Tim responded. Tom asked him to
leave. Tim grabbed another ball, fired it against the wall,
pieces scattering. "One more,'' Tom said, ''and I'll punch you
"So now you're Muhammad Ali. Come on. Come on!" And Tim picked
up another ball and threw.
Tom closed in, Tim took a wild swing, Tom ducked. For an instant
they stood very close, mirror images of anger. Then Tom balled a
fist and slammed Tim flat in the jaw. "It was a pretty good
shot," Tom says now, "a straight left." Tim dropped, sat there,
then without a word got up and shambled off to bed. "I was just
so in ... disbelief," Tim says. One punch, the only one thrown
between them, the only fight they ever had with anyone. The next
morning their lives dropped into the same comforting groove. "We
just had so much fun together," Tim says.
October in Sweden. Tim Gullikson and Sampras were in Stockholm
for a tournament. After dinner Tim went to his room to telephone
the practice courts. Brad Gilbert, Andre Agassi's coach,
answered the phone, and Tim started talking, but Gilbert
couldn't understand a word. On his end Tim couldn't grasp what
Gilbert was saying. "God, that's strange," Tim said. Then he
pitched forward, and his body and head and hands went crashing
through a glass table. His nose snapped. The slivers cut gashes
across his face.
No one thought much of it at the time: Tim had been dieting, Tim
had jet lag, Tim was just tired. He went back to Wheaton, and
doctors there thought the problem might be a faulty heart valve,
nothing major. Then, in December, after Tim rejoined Sampras in
Munich for the Grand Slam Cup, Rosemary, on a whim, decided to
call him very late one night. Tim answered, but his words were a
garble, all twisted into nonsense. Rosemary, a former nurse,
immediately called the front desk. Tim spent the next week in
the hospital. The diagnosis: He had suffered two strokes and had
some heart trouble. But he could still work.
On the afternoon of Jan. 20, Tim was warming up Sampras for his
third-round match in the Australian Open against Lars Jonsson.
It was a bright day, but Tim was so pale that even from across
the net Sampras could trace the months-old scars from the glass
table. Tim gathered Sampras's rackets and carried them to the
locker room to get them restrung. He felt drained; he stopped
and rested. He took the rackets to Sampras, and everything began
to spin, and he knew: This is how it started before. Tom found
him lying in the tournament doctor's office. They took a car to
the hospital. Tim's vision began to blur; he couldn't recognize
Tom's face anymore. A chill passed.... Am I going blind?
In Melbourne's Epworth Hospital, an Australian doctor gave his
diagnosis: You have melanoma of the brain, cancer in one of its
most savage forms. You have between three and six months to live.
The room, the world, tilted. Tim broke into tears, and Tom felt
himself shattering. What do you say when a death sentence comes
down? Tim begged Tom not to go, asked him to sleep in the room
with him, but, really, it was understood. Someone rolled in a
cot, and after the drugs took Tim away, Tom lay awake, his
thoughts carrying him through: What about his family? What about
the kids and Mom? What would it be, life without Tim?
Three nights passed like this. "All night, right next to my
brother again," Tom says. It was a comfort to breathe the same
air. Reassuring to hear each other turn and sigh. It was like
Wisconsin again, except now the darkness smelled faintly of fear.
"You know, doctors need coaching," Tim says. "When Pete plays
Agassi, I don't tell him all the bad things that can happen. If
I have a tumor, I don't want the doctor telling me what can
happen to me. There's always got to be hope." He sits on the
couch in his living room. There are bags under his eyes, and the
color of his skin falls somewhere between beige and yellow. He
gives a nice cockeyed grin. "All these statistics," Tim says
suddenly. Then, to the words circling in his head, he answers,
"But I'm not average."
The doctor in Australia was wrong. Tim doesn't have melanoma.
Back in Chicago, doctors took a brain biopsy that revealed four
brain tumors, clinical name oligodendroglioma. Tim's personal
neurologist, Albin Morariu, says such a tumor is exceedingly
rare, less rapacious than melanoma but still "a slow-growing
malignancy." All of Tim's tumors are alike and thus considered
four fingers of the same cancerous hand. In a day Tim will start
his second 42-day bout of chemotherapy, and he does so with
small good news. An MRI has shown marked shrinkage, but this
type of tumor is so unusual--Tim's case is now part of an
international study based at Loyola University Medical Center in
Chicago--that no one can say whether it will continue to shrink.
"There is no certain long-term prognosis, because we don't
know," Morariu says. "We'll have to go one step at a time and
see how well he responds." There's no doubt in Morariu's mind
that Tim will make it to at least 1996. "Before chemo his
survival was considered to be two years to 15 years," Morariu
says. "If it's two to 15 years when there's no help, with
scientific help there's a better prognosis. But I'm not going to
say it's a guarantee."
But it is a comfort, however small. Morariu was in Australia for
the Open because his daughter, Corina, was playing junior
singles and doubles, and he told Tim then that melanoma did not
seem right. But Morariu knew: Bad news lingers and spreads. When
Sampras broke down, crying into his sleeve during a mesmerizing
match with Courier the next week, it wasn't because, as was
widely reported, someone yelled for him to win one for Gully. It
was because he had been at the hospital for the previous four
days. "He thought," Tim says, "I was going to die."
The brothers had flown back to the States the morning before
Sampras's match--Tom sweating out the 20-hour flight with
instructions on what to do should Tim begin to fail--and after
Sampras won the fourth set, a vision of Tim came into his mind.
Sampras tried to block it, but after winning the first game of
the fifth, he sat down and began to weep. "I had this picture of
Tim lying in his hospital bed," Sampras says. "He was very
scared, he was crying, and I just couldn't get it out of my
mind, you know?"
For the next game and a half Sampras, overwhelmed, couldn't move
much. Courier served out his game, and when Sampras stood at the
service line, up 30-0, and paused, Courier called out, "You
O.K., Pete? We can do this tomorrow, you know." And he's not
sure why, but Sampras got angry. He knew Courier was aware of
Tim's health; the two had been out to dinner the night before.
Still, Sampras's reaction was telling. "I didn't know if he was
giving me -- because he thought I was cramping, but it just
pissed me off," Sampras says. "I didn't know how to take it. But
then it clicked in my mind that I needed to start playing. I
decided: I'm going to win this match."
When Sampras prevailed, everyone considered the victory a
Rocknean feat-Pete had won one for Gully. But the truth was more
subtle: Sampras had beaten Courier despite Tim, which was a
tribute to both their relationship and Tim's impact on Sampras
over the last three years.
In December 1991 Sampras had a reputation made up of equal parts
talent and lethargy. Everyone knew he had a bullet serve and a
sweet touch, but it appeared he lacked commitment. His lone
Grand Slam win, at the 1990 U.S. Open, looked like two weeks of
lightning in a bottle. Sampras himself sensed a problem; he
jettisoned coach Joe Brandi and began looking for another. The
first person he approached was Gully. Not Tim. Tom.
The two met for three hours at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis
Academy in Bradenton, Fla. But Tom had a contract as touring pro
for the USTA, and he would've had to break it to work with
Sampras. "As a coach I would have loved to do it," Tom says.
"But I didn't feel it was right, ethically." Tim, meanwhile, had
just ended his relationship with Krickstein. "Listen," Tom told
Sampras. "I've got a guy who looks just like me. He talks maybe
a little more, but he thinks exactly like me...."
But as a player, Tim always competed better, at least alone. He
won four singles titles to Tom's one, beat John McEnroe at
Wimbledon in 1979 and never came to a match unprepared. When Tim
began working with Sampras, he stressed mental toughness,
raising intensity for the myriad tour stops that aren't Grand
Slam events. At the '93 Lipton, while other players whined,
Sampras overcame the distractions of blustery weather and
chaotic conditions to win--Tim's favorite example of the
difference he has made, because it was precisely the kind of
event Sampras would have lost two years before. But the '95
Australian went beyond that. There Pete played like Gully.
"He had every reason to fold," Tim says proudly. "But he got
angry. He sucked it up. He toughed it out."
What more could a small-town guy ask? Here was Sampras-who knew
he was special from the age of 12-putting to use the work ethic,
the gnawing drive that anyone from Onalaska, Wis., knows is
vital to compete with the city boys. You come from nowhere and
you'd better compete every day, buddy, because what's the
alternative? Taking over Dad's barbershop? Canning vegetables at
the Stokely plant? What if you're 16, and though the guy on the
other side of the bed wears your face, you hear something he
doesn't when a plane roars overhead? You want out. Now.
"I always felt different," Tim says. "I knew there was something
out there. I didn't know what it was, but I had to get away. I
didn't want to grow up in this little town and be like everybody
else.'' He persuaded Tom to come along.
After leaving college in 1973, Tim and Tom separated for the
first time, Tim going to Dayton and the Kettering Tennis Center,
Tom sticking around for a year before heading to Chicago and a
tennis club near Crystal Lake. The best player in Dayton was
Hank Jungle, once nationally ranked as a junior. Tim beat him
the first time they played. Jungle was convinced. "He had what I
call it," Jungle says of Tim. "Absolutely fabulous hand-eye
coordination and great hands. And heart. A lot of courage." So
what if he was 23? Jungle offered to coach Tim, sponsor him on
satellite tours, and was there even a doubt Tim would say yes?
Something out there.
By the end of 1974 Tim's car was piling up miles: Birmingham,
Milwaukee, Louisville, West Palm Beach. He and Rosemary got
married in November '75--one year after Tom and Julie. The next
year Tim and Rosemary borrowed $6,000 to keep going; in '77 he
was named the tour's Newcomer of the Year. But he was afflicted,
too, by classic yokelism: He was sure he was an impostor. "At
the beginning of every year I was thinking, Is this going to be
my last year?" Tim says. "I never felt like I belonged.
Everybody else had the pedigree; most went to UCLA or Stanford,
and here I am from such a different place. I felt like such an
So he did the only thing an outsider can. He went inside
himself. He subscribed to Psychology Today, pored through books
on the mind and consciousness, attitudes, relationships. Dr.
Life, Tom calls Tim, because he's always trying to figure out
the Big Why. "When we first started working together, Tim was
reading a book on the Tao," Sampras says. "There was a chapter
on fasting, so Tim wanted to go on a seven-day fast. We go over
to the health food store and tell the girl this, and he spends
$50 on different drinks, colon cleanser, all this crap. He comes
home, mixes a drink, and it looks like algae; it was all green.
I'm watching TV, and I hear him: He's throwing up. Then he took
a two-hour nap, and when he woke up, that was the end of his
While he played, Tim would toy constantly with his grip, his
stroke, take lessons; after he retired he switched his obsession
to golf, eating, drinking. If he took up running, he would run
an hour every day for 30 days, then drop the program. If he
drank one beer, he drank 12--and then, in 1989, he decided
abruptly to stop that too. He hasn't touched a drink since. It
drives Tom crazy; it's the most glaring difference between them.
Tim will call, raving about a new diet, and Tom will plead, "I
don't want to know the latest theory or philosophy. Just tell me
you're doing it three or four times a week and can do it the
rest of your life. Just be consistent."
Strange. Tim's insistence on consistency is what made him so
good for Sampras. It's as if Tim reserves all his steadiness for
coaching; he insists on tight, intense practices, pushes no
oddball notions, hesitates to tinker with Sampras's game-and
that structure, says Sampras, has made Tim "very responsible"
for his rise. "It's a great relationship, we're great friends,
and I was planning on going with him five, six, seven, eight
years," Sampras says. "It was working."
Both ways. Sampras needed Gullikson to realize his potential.
Tim needed Sampras for his own arrival, 20 years late. "Pete
validated me," Tim says, and it's true. In tennis, success is
mistaken for character; respect goes to the one who wins most.
For the first time Tim Gullikson has nothing to prove. "It's
funny," he says. ''I feel like I belong now."
The envelope came postmarked San Francisco, in a hand both
familiar and not. Tom had never gotten a letter from Tim before.
A letter? Tim had just spent a week in the house with Tom, Julie
and the kids here in Palm Coast. It was September 1981, Tim and
Tom had just played the Lipton Doubles in Ponte Vedra, Fla., and
it had been a great week all around. Tom ripped the seal. The
words came in bunches: Tom ... just not working out.... I'm
feeling too much pressure ... think we should split up for a
Five years. Five years? Thirty years! Thirty years with a guy,
and he tells you he wants to end it by mail? Tom couldn't
believe it. But there it was, scribbled and stamped: Since
starting their doubles career in 1977, the twins had won five
titles, but by the end of 1981 their drought was going on two
years. Tom's singles game was in the garbage. Tim felt all this
weight to win with his brother so Tom could gain some
confidence--and money--but everyone could see it. For the first
time the twins weren't clicking.
But ... a letter? "I think he felt so uncomfortable, felt so bad
that he didn't want to say it face-to-face," Tom says. "I was
pissed off. If he felt that, he could've told me in person."
Then again, is there any good way for a twin to ask for a
divorce? Ever since Tom, seeing Tim's swift rise in '75,
followed him onto the tour a year later, the Gulliksons had been
a unified front. Split up? "Heresy," Tim says. Tim, who can
recall even the jingle of a janitor's keys from 38 years ago,
has no memory of writing that letter. "Funny how the brain
works," Loehr says, laughing. "So protective."
No wonder. The next week the brothers went separately to San
Francisco for a tour stop, Tim to play doubles with Johan Kriek,
Tom with Ferdi Taygan. Tom bawled Tim out for the way he ended
their partnership. Then they met in the first round. "We lost
7-6 in the third," Tom says of himself and Taygan. "I was upset;
I wanted to beat Tim, to show him I could still play well." Tim
only remembers that he felt miserable winning. The worst part
was, he had been right. Tom's game needed a kick.
"Tom didn't have Tim's success, and he really had a hard time
understanding it," Loehr says, "because he knew he had it
inside." So Tom went to Loehr, who until then had been forced
to see clients in hiding. No jock wanted to be known as a head
case; seeing a sports psychologist was a tidy way to commit
professional suicide. Loehr gave Tom two choices: Pay me, and I
won't tell a soul; admit I help you, and I'll treat you free.
Tom is from Wisconsin. There was no choice. Tom began a program
of positive thinking and visualization, spoke to Loehr for hours
on the road by phone, told everyone who would listen how Loehr
was helping him. By the end of 1982 Tom's ranking had risen to a
personal-best 38, and he had made it to the quarters of the U.S.
Open. Players who once mocked Tom for seeing a shrink asked for
Loehr's phone number. "He's the most important person in my
career," Loehr says.
Meanwhile, an ever-shuffling cadre of partners left Tim sour.
Kriek deserted him in Philadelphia, and Tim began to see: "My
brother and I, we could always count on each other."
Besides, Tom says, sitting next to his brother in Tim's living
room, "He may've seen some improvement when I beat him in
"He came up to my level," Tim says, giggling.
"We went out for a sandwich, and Tim got enthusiastic about the
way I'd brought intensity to the court. After he got over his
drubbing, he said we should get back together."
They played their best doubles after that, winning three
tournaments in 1982 and reaching the '83 Wimbledon final before
losing to McEnroe and Peter Fleming-the furthest either ever
advanced in a Grand Slam event. Standing on Centre Court, Tom
had the same reaction he would have 10 years later when he was
named the Davis Cup captain: tears and amazement at how far
they'd traveled. "I enjoy what I do, I appreciate it; I don't
understand people who don't," Tom says. "Maybe they grew up with
expectations I never had."
Maybe they never knew what it meant to grow up loving the Green
Bay Packers and going to games at La Crosse State with their
brother and dad, all of them trying to figure what the coach
would call next. Maybe they never knew how gigantic those sports
figures all seemed, Lombardi and Starr, Rosewall and Laver. Some
people forget. Not Tom. In 1976 there was a small tennis
exhibition in Rockford, Ill.: Laver and Roy Emerson. A man named
Dick Johnson asked Tom if he would like to play doubles against
the two Aussie legends. Like? Laver was Tom's idol.
Dozens of Tom's friends from Chicago rode down to support him.
The night of the match, the man announced Laver with his two
Grand Slams and Emerson with his 28 major titles ... and Dick
and then Tom with his Illinois state championship. First serve,
Tom blasted an ace. Emmo and Rocket never knew what hit them.
Match point, Tom hit a topspin lob over Emerson's head. He
remembers the shot even now, maybe the best shot of his life.
"That was the first time I'd played with the idea that I wanted
to be a professional," Tom says, "and I'd beaten two of the
greatest." He remembers being in the locker room after the
Aussies shook his hand and went to play singles, leaving
24-year-old Tom Gullikson of La Crosse, Wis., in this empty
echoing space--alone with Laver's bag. "I couldn't resist," he
says. What does a great player like Rod Laver carry in his
duffel bag? Any secrets? Tom unzipped the bag, poked it open.
"All there was was a lot of tape and ointment and grip stuff.
Nothing special. No magic."
Late afternoon. Tom is flopped on the couch in Tim's home in
Wheaton, riffing on discipline and coaching, on consistency, on
the future. Tim interrupts. "I didn't know you were psychic,
Tom," Tim says, grinning. "So what's going to happen to me?"
"You're going to do great."
Deep into his second 42-day dose of chemotherapy, Tim sleeps
often. He has occasional headaches, nausea. He takes three pills
every night, and occasionally there's a short stop at Loyola for
intravenous treatment. His third 42-day dose is scheduled to end
by July 1, and if the tumors have shrunk, he'll face one last
barrage, enough to kill his stem cells and require a
transfusion-enough, it is hoped, to kill the tumors. He won't be
going to England. They've had their second breakup; Tim and Tom,
who won the over-35 doubles at Wimbledon in 1987, won't be
playing the circuit. "He's dumped me for Wimbledon this year;
he's going to play with Dick Stockton," Tim says. "It's the
first time in 20 years I'm not playing Wimbledon. That's sad."
The tumors scare Tom. He mentions a neighbor from La Crosse who
has lived with the same rare tumor--oligodendroglioma--for years.
"But," says Tom, "he only has one." That man's brother has a
brain tumor too. And five years ago Tim and Tom both saw their
father die of bone-marrow cancer on his 65th birthday. "Cancer
is a bitch," Tom says. He has begun eating better, takes
medicine for high blood pressure. "This really shocked me.
Certainly I want to be healthy for my sake, but I'm sure Tim
will need me sometimes more than others. I want to be strong
enough and healthy enough to help him."
Want to know how powerful cancer is? Strong enough to untwin
what nothing else could. After 43 years of a perfect balance,
the Gulliksons are no longer even. Tim and Tom look very
different. They do very different things. Tom had an extensive
physical after Australia, and he seems clean. "Because this
tumor is so rare, there's been no study of twins," Morariu says.
"Tom's MRI was negative. I don't think he should be concerned."
But Tom can't help thinking about such things, and about life
without Tim. "He's always been around," Tom says. "He's always
But this summer is different. Tom's schedule won't leave him
time to get back to Wheaton, and Tim's plans don't include two
of the three Slam events. Tim and Tom's mother gets remarried on
July 22 in Onalaska, then there's a much-ballyhooed rematch
between the U.S. and Sweden in the Davis Cup semifinal in Las
Vegas from Sept. 22 to 24. Tim will go to the wedding, with both
men giving away the bride. He'll try to make Vegas too, and
there's a chance he'll join Sampras in Cincinnati or
Philadelphia in the August run-up to the U.S. Open. But New York
is a lock. "I'll be back by the Open," Tim says.
Tim doesn't like being alone. His eyes ignite when Rosemary
comes in or when 12-year-old Erik or eight-year-old Megan bursts
noisily through the door. As Tim waits for his brother to visit,
he'll abruptly say, "Pretty soon, Tom'll be here." Ten minutes
later he will say it again. But Tim knows that the drugs and
friends and Tom's quiet kidding can only help so much; only one
man swallows the pills. "This is something I've got to do
myself," he says.
So every day he can, Tim writes in a journal. He walks, sings.
"Look at this," he says. He tugs out his wallet. He hands over a
tiny photo of himself from the day after he crashed through the
glass table in Stockholm: nose swollen, face torn, cuts both
black and blue, as if he'd been savaged with a steel bar. "I
carry it around with me because I think it's kind of cool," he
says. "We're going to laugh about this five years from now."
He collects stories, just as always, except now there's a common
theme. Near-death experiences, psychics, alternative cures. He
has gone through all the books, Dr. Life has; he moves to the
shelf and reads them out loud: Healing and the Mind; Peace, Love
and Healing; You Can Heal Your Life; How to Live Between Visits.
"I've got more downstairs," Tim says. "But how many of these
books can you read?"
He thinks of things he never did, of his dad and where he might
be now. Of the trees, all the buds sprouting in the warming
morning light. Of Erik and Megan, and their friends he never
knew before because he was always gone. Tim will walk down to
the train station to meet Rosemary, and he can't believe how
much he loves it, just the two of them walking as the night
comes down. "We go through life, and you never think you're
going to die," Tim says. A plane murmurs far away. "Now there's
a possibility I'm going to die...."
His voice hardens. No. "Well, I'm not going to die," he says. "I
just have these tumors ... no, I don't have them; you're not
supposed to take ownership of them ... ah. O.K." He pauses: one
more try. He says, "There are these tumors." He grins: one small
victory. He pulls another creased square of paper from the
wallet, a prayer in small type. He knows this one by heart.
"Pray the St. Jude's novena," Tim recites, slow and halting.
"May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, glorified, loved and
preserved throughout the world, now and forever. Sacred Heart of
Jesus, have mercy on us. St. Jude, worker of miracles, pray for
us. St. Jude, help of the hopeless, pray for us."
When he finishes he is short of breath. This isn't singing now;
it's a plea with a hope that someone hears. It is like trying to
shout beneath the surface of the sea.