Monday, November 26, 2007

A Week of Death

For me, last week was a week of death. Four people I knew died. I have heard people from my parents generation complaining about how all they ever do is go to funerals and how many of the people they know are now dead. Last week, I got a taste of what this must be like.

It began with a telephone call that arrived while I was on the highway. The call was from a neighbour of mine. She wanted to know whether I knew anything about the health, or recent activities of another neighbour, Burt. It turned out that when the neighbour who called me was on the way home, she had been surprised to see the police blocking the end of our street. It seemed that Burt had been found dead in his drive way. As such a death is a little unusual, the police decided to initially treat it as a suspicious death.

I had known Burt for quite a while. He was very active in our neighbourhood. Indeed, he was the head of one of our neighbourhood organization, that I am also involved with. We had collaborated on a couple of major projects. All in all, Burt was a good guy. He was a little unconventional, but was very passionate about his causes. I will miss him.

The next death I learned about came in by e-mail. It seems that Henry Kyburg had passed away. Henry was an excellent and well-known philosopher of science, among other things. I got to know Henry during grad school, when I had dinner with him on several occasions. Although we had not seen each other in a few years, I was still fond of him. He was one of the few philosophers who knew anything about farming. He also loved to discuss farming matters, often with a very amusing philosophical twist. Thus, I will miss Henry too.

The next bit of bad news that came in concerned a friend of mine called Joe. Joe was an accomplished Zydeco musician. While not everyone liked Joe's playing style, I was a big fan. His style was very old time Creole -- the kind of sound that one seldom gets to hear these days.

Strangely enough, I had not seen Joe for some time, until the previous weekend. I asked him what he had been up to. He told me, using a wonderfully colorful local turn of phrase, that he had "caught a stroke". He told me though that he had recovered successfully and was back playing again. The next thing I know, it seems that he has died. I have put Joe's CD in the player in my truck, by way of a memorial.

The final death was probably the closest to me. When I got back from class one day last week, there was a message on my voice mail. It was from a philosophy faculty member who retired several years previously. It seems that another former philosophy professor, Bob, had passed away. Bob had been ill for quite some time, so the news was not a total surprise, but it was a little unexpected. One of the reason that Bob's death felt especially close to me is that fact that I was hired as Bob's replacement, when he retired. He was a nice and gentle man.

I am hoping that this next week will be a little less dramatic. As it is our last week of classes, there is likely to be some student based pantomimes, but hopefully nothing quite like last week.

The CP


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11:45 AM  

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