Monday, October 27, 2014


This is happening with greater frequency.

I am again listening to Kate Wolf's searing rendition of Who Knows Where the Time Goes. I write again because in a blog last week I mentioned I was listening to the song.  I liked it so much that I went and bought one of Kate Wolf's cds.

So, now I listen to her again.

Across the purple skies, 
All the birds are leaving. 
But how can they know. 
That it is time for them to go.  
Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming, 
I have no thought of time. 

Who knows where the time goes. 
Who knows where the time goes.

Today, as I am sitting in my office I see two people walk quickly by my door. I continue working on something that seems important.  A course someone has proposed.  This is one of the things I do.  Identify curriculum that will be good for the students who pay handsomely for their education.  When I was in front of the class teaching I felt an obligation to deliver, both for my self respect and also because that is what they sent me checks for.  Now, my job is broader. One dimension involves checking to make sure that well meaning course proposals will mean something to students.

So, I am sitting at my desk drafting a memo to some colleagues about concerns I have about a proposal. It seems important to me.  Earlier I was looking to make sure scholarship money was well spent. And then there was some work related to a grant proposal.

And let's not forget my thoughts about the New England Patriots and how they pummeled the Bears yesterday.  How good Tom Brady looked. Interested readers might want to read my blog earlier this month that I entitled "Piling On."  I wrote then, presciently for once, that the reports of the Patriots demise were premature.  Indeed the home town team looked like world beaters on Sunday. So, I spent some time today thinking about that important bit of news.

And then I was leveled when my two associate dean colleagues walked into my office somberly, and shut the door.  I had never seen one of them look so shaken. The other did not look like he was ready for a party either.  They tell me the news that one of the chairmen with whom I have worked for four years, died over the weekend. It was his son and ex wife who had walked down the corridor earlier to tell the dean the news.

I saw the dean later and his eyes were red.  How could they not be.  We work with the chairs daily here.  We meet and battle with each other, constructively for the most part.  This guy had been the unit head since 2002.  Nice guy. Hard worker.  Fought for his department and his students.  Was on sabbatical this term at Harvard working on a book.

I had no idea.  Spoke with him recently and he looked terrific.

I remember a conversation we had last year.  He opened up, a bit uncharacteristically, and told me that he was having lunch the next day with his ex wife.  He was hopeful and ingenuous. He said he was lonely and was hoping that the lunch would be a step towards a reconciliation. The next morning before his lunch, I wrote him a note wishing him well. And he wrote back thanking me.

My guess is that there was no reconciliation, but all year he seemed so up and there were no signs of illness.

The word is that he had had a form of cancer that was in remission and suddenly came back with a vengeance. So odd.   He never looked pale or weak. And like that, he is gone.

And for a while I felt leveled.  As if my head was filled with this sad news and there was no room for anything else in there.

A month does not go by now when I do not hear of someone I knew or someone who is kin to a contemporary, who has left us.

Tonight I go out with two other October birthday folks.  We have annually gone out in October to celebrate our arrivals.  I will enjoy the wine and company.

Won't count the time, but am aware of how precious these moments are. The chorus in my head singing Who Knows Where the Time Goes, has turned up the volume.

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