One of my dearest friends and a neighbor of many years died this afternoon.  He was a lifelong bachelor who had lost most of the hearing in both ears when an anti-tank gun fired while he was crawling under it in France during World War II when he was 19.  He went on to become a respected man of science, a cancer researcher, and a well-known skeptic of alternative medicine.  He had no tolerance for miracle cures and especially hated those who sold hope to the hopeless with their promises of blood transfers and shark skin enemas and other exotic cures.  He was not warm and cuddly and he didn’t have a lot of friends and I was one of them.  I saw him today about a half hour before he died but the last time we connected was on Thursday, just before he went into that final morpheus cloud.  I was talking to him when he suddenly opened his eyes–for the first time in several days–and squeezed my hand.  His eyes said:  “Don’t be afraid.  It’s not that big a deal.  It’s just science.”  

9 Responses to “Requiescat in Pace”
  1. Cary says:

    Hi Jerry, my condolences also. My father passed away a few weeks ago (a piano bar guy in the San Francisco bay area for years). We had tapes of him bamming out various tin pan alley and other standard tunes at his “memorial” reception. It’s a time for refledtion and appreciation of the time we have here. Appropriate music is in the ear of the beholder. I wonder what kind of music your friend liked?

  2. Alex Shapiro says:

    I’m so sorry, Jerry. In the midst of the grief of loss it can feel good to celebrate a friend’s life and what they meant to us, and listening to uplifting music can be very healing. Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” immediately comes to mind as a joyous, beautiful, and peaceful offering.

  3. My best grieving/farewell works: Franz Schmidt’s Symphony No.4, Herber Howells Hymnus Paradisi, Benjamin Lees Symphony no.4 “Memorial Candles”, Silvestrov’s Requiem for Larissa (which imho should have won the grammy for best new work the year that Adams did).

  4. john Power says:

    My condolences. How about the Durufle requiem?

  5. My condolences also, Jerry.

    I am sure he was happy to have his friends around. What more could you ask.

    As for farewell pieces Mahler is always a good choice. Just take your pick. I have been listening to the Rückert-Lieder lately.

  6. david toub says:

    My condolences. Personally, I’d suggest something a bit more upbeat than the Stravinsky or Shostakovich, both of which are works I love, but very very sad pieces of music.

  7. Steve Layton says:

    Stravinsky, Elegie.

  8. Jerry Bowles says:

    Thanks, Tom. I played the Faure Requiem this evening. I’ll do Shostokovich’s 15th tomorrow morning. What else is good for farewells?

  9. Tom Myron says:

    My condolences on your loss Jerry. Sounds like a guy who had good taste in friends.