Sunday, May 20, 2007

To Absent Friends...

Yesterday was a curious day. The main event was that I got to hood my doctoral student at his graduation. I also decided to hold a little get together in my back yard in his honor, and also to honor some other graduates. Things did not go quite as planned.

When I got to the graduation and found my student, he told me that he had not been feeling too well. In fact, his temperature was just below 103 degrees. He also looked a curious color. The ceremony was unbelievable long, with all sorts of silliness, needless speeches and the like. We were there over two hours before the big moment arrived. During this time, my student got progressively worse. At various points, I thought that I may have to take him outside.

Eventually, the big moment arrived. My student rose to the occasion. When we sat back down, he seemed to have been re-energized a little by the experience. This effect did not last too long though. Fortunately, it did not take too long before we were able to process out.

Naturally, after such an event there were family members to meet, photos to be taken, all that stuff. As this progressed, the poor fellow began to look worse and worse. However, he told me quite emphatically that he was determined to make it to his party. It was just going to take a little while. He needed a rest.

I rushed home to discover the party had already begun without me. That was fine. The ceremony took much longer than I anticipated. The other people being honored were there and having fun. I was also very pleased to see someone who did not know anyone there, but who I was very pleased that they managed to show up, had made firm friends with one of my former students.

Initially, I had quite a bit of last moment stuff to get set up. This did not take long. More people arrived. It was going well, but no sign of my student. Eventually, when I was just beginning to worry a little, my phone rang. It was another faculty member. They had stopped by to check on my student. They discovered him in a bad way, with a temperature of 104.5 degrees. Immediately, they decided to take him to the emergency room, as a temperature that high is getting far too close to the danger zone.

So, it transpired that the main guest of honor at the get together did not make it. We got fairly regular updates though, which was nice. I checked on my student today and he is much better. Everyone else had fun, as best as I can tell. I have had a couple of nice phone calls today and a very kind e-mail.

When it came to the champagne toast, there were still two other graduates present, so we added "to X, our absent friend" to the salutation. The last people left a little after 3am. Thus, I am tired today. What a wild day, yesterday turned out to be!

It really does seem even more that having doctoral students is like being a parent. Today, when I talked to the other faculty member, who made the emergency room call last night, we started figuring out how to pay for it, finding my student a job (this looks like it is under control) and sorting out some issues with his living accommodation. Fortunately, I quite like being a parent...

The CP

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