The last class he taught was Meteorology. It was mainly to cadets. He was on his last legs and they were only just learning to really walk. He’d sent me an email asking to meet. He starts another round Chemotherapy next week. After his last round, what he calls “Chemo-brain” hung on far too long.
I met with him yesterday. I needed to honor his recent retirement. As the adviser for the Master’s program he was the faculty counselor I met with during the interview process. I’d decided I should get a Master’s Degree at the age of 52 when it looked like I needed to provide income for a very young niece and nephew. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in 1976 and applied to grad school 30 years later. Yikes.
He was the professor that ‘Hooded’ me when I walked for that degree two years later. Hurricane Ike hit our coastline the September before my December graduation. Our entire campus relocated from Galveston to College Station that semester. I was allowed to stay on the island since I was a research assistant for Center for Texas Beaches and Shores and I was needed to conduct initial field assessments.
I carved out an hour of my busy time to sit and share a hot chocolate with this kind man. His physical demeanor has changed drastically since his battle with cancer. He told me that this last semester was nearly impossible, though he loves teaching Meteorology. An essential science for all but particularly those who spend time at sea. Atmosphere controls the weather. Weather can wreck ships and lives.
I asked him about his wife. He said she is putting up with him. I suggested we walk over to the floral department so he could take home a small bouquet. Turns out the florist was someone he knew from his church. He introduced me to him as one of his favorite people. I noticed tears pooling in his eyes.
I write this tribute with tears in mine. I am eternally grateful for his gentle guidance and steady encouragement. I know that my life was not the only one he helped. May his last class of cadets grow to be the caliber of human that he is. May his courage help them weather whatever storms they may face.