Meg Sullivan knows how to peel an orange. Really.
It’s just that her dad has spent a lifetime packing lunches for his little girl and likes being able to help.
Those lunches always included two oranges, peeled and tucked into a zip-close bag.
Tom Sullivan’s insistence on peeling oranges for his teenage daughter prompted a lot of teasing from family and friends, especially in recent years.
“I think the harassment just encouraged me to do it more,” he said Friday. “It became a running joke so I couldn’t stop.”
Until Wednesday, the last day of school at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma.
Meg Sullivan opened her lunch and found two oranges — unpeeled.
Included were instructions on how to peel an orange with the words, “It’s time, baby girl,” scribbled in black marker. Her father had also drawn a sad, crying face.
“I’ve been thinking for a while about how different life is going to be and I started to realize I’m almost done making lunches,” Tom Sullivan said.
He said the note was done in jest, but it signaled a transition to adulthood for his 18-year-old daughter.
Meg Sullivan thought it was hilarious. She shared it with her friends. Then she tweeted about it.
Within minutes, she was tickled that 30 of her friends had “liked” it. She updated her dad every four minutes about the growing number of likes. He joked about trying for 1 million likes and becoming Twitter famous.
By the next day, the tweet went viral, with more than 104,000 retweets and more than 479,000 likes. Meg Sullivan is no longer keeping track because the swell of attention keeps crashing the app on her cellphone.
The pair has always been close, with Tom Sullivan making it to every one of his daughter’s softball games and often leaving her notes.
On special occasions and holidays, he decorates an Elf on the Shelf and hides it, leading his daughter on a scavenger hunt to find it.
“He has always gone above and beyond and is easily the cutest and most caring man I’ll never know,” Meg Sullivan told BuzzFeed News. “It’s gonna break my heart to leave him for college, no doubt.”
She’s attending Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, in the fall and plans to study criminal justice.
Meg Sullivan kept her father’s note but doesn’t know yet whether she’ll tuck it away for safekeeping or frame it.
She does know, however, how to peel an orange.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653