Thank you, UNL Department of Political Science

On February 12, two days after my dad’s heart-attack, my colleagues at UNL’s department of political science sent me a wonderful get-well card for my dad.

The card had wonderful handwritten notes, from both the faculty and staff of the department — men and women I admire and look up to

“Very sorry to hear the news. I am thinking of you & hoping things get better”
“Hope everything turns out OK. We are thinking about you and your family.
“I am so sorry. Please know that my thoughts are both you.”
“My family will keep you & your family in our prayers. Let me know what I can do for you.

As well as from my fellow graduate students — men and women who work besides me, take the same classes as me…

“J. & I are thinking of you” – J.F.
“All my best” – A.F.
“Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.” – S.S.
“All my best” – D.B.
“We are all here for you during this rough time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in any way.” T.M.
“Condolences.” – M.H.
“Take care of yourself. I’ll take you to lunch later this week” M.S.
“I am sorry to hear about your father. He is a really good guy and I hope he pulls through.” – M.T.
“Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.” – C.J.
“I am thinking of you, and your family and wishing you all the best.” – T.W.
“Just want to let you know that I’m thinking of you and your family. Please let me know if I can do anything to help.” – J.T.
“Thinking of you and your family. Hope for the best. Take care.” – C.J.

and even argue the eccentricities of Keynesian economics with..

“I am very sorry to hear about this change and I promise that I’ll let you win an argument sometime soon to maybe make you feel better… 🙂 ” -D.O.

My mother has spent the past two days writing her thank-yous. We have a bag that is, physically, overflowing with the kind wishes our family has received. We have four stacks of envelopes to go out already.

But I’m younger in life, I don’t have as many contacts, and, of course, I feel more natural talking to people online than through the post office. So I write these messages, and so many kind people take time out of their day to share their thoughts.

This blog is nothing without your contributions. I’ve said that before, and that is true. And many real life friends have been with me through all this through the blog. More than any event in my life, this tragedy has united me to people.

But there is still a special feel to atoms, to paper and physical things. So I want to thank everyone in the department who wrote, and everyone there who has shared kindness to me in every other way since 2005. I want to thank the department, and the professor I teach under this semester, for both sending flowers to the funeral.

Minutes before the mass started, my mother and I walked to the front of the department. She was so impressed, and proud.

My dad always loved flowers.

And I want to thank J.F. and S.S. for even planning on surprising me and driving up, before two blizzards and two closed interstates made travel both impossible and crazily dangerous.

To my friends and colleagues in the department — everyone is in both categories — thank you. I love you.

Funeral Morning

Yesterday began with my brother and I shoveling out our driveway. I don’t mind this chore — it goes fast when you listen to podcasts, and it’s best to get it done early before the snow is compacted by anything driving over it.

Very kindly our neighbor came by, without being asked or even conversation, snowblowed the end of the driveway (where the plow had built up quite a drift), and then left. All without a word.

A friend of mine came by Dodge 4X4 to drive us the half-mile to the church for the funeral. The terrible snow prevented one of dad’s pall-bearers and his eldest brother from attending.

The first was — interesting. He’s a perfectly friendly guy, and fits where with my hometown’s trend of having every minister of every church being a “baptist” (my parents term for the somewhat-charismatic, somewhat-contemporary) service style. As a priest. however…

Even after agreeing, he pointed refused to include the line of scripture we had requested: 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Instead, he chose a passage of scripture that has an opposite connotation…

The liturgy was also off. Catholic worship, for those not aware, uses a calls-response methodology. It’s somewhat jarring, however, when politically correct additions (“brothers and sisters,” instead of “brethren”) or subtractions (“Christ” instead of “Christ, our Lord”) of the moment, as the case may be.

After the funeral mass, the present pallbearers, dad’s brother, his nephew, and myself carried the casket to the hearse. There was a lunch that my dad would have enjoyed in the abstract, as it included the “byzantine” aspects of my mom’s family that he found so fascinating.

After that I went home, shoveled some more, and slept.