Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Peter Hemingway

It was my intention to write about our trip to Montana - to try to exercise my writing muscle and describe the scenery, explain my feelings about holidays, and generally talk about friends, relaxation and being a bit selfish.

But while we were away Peter Hemingway died.

So I will talk about feelings of loss and change.

Peter and I were colleagues. He had been at the University for 10 years by the time I showed up but he had just moved to the Faculty of Education that summer.

I don't think you could really call us friends although it seemed that we always enjoyed talking to each other. We were colleagues. He was there. I was there.

Peter retired a few years ago - probably at the end of June 2005. But he still taught the odd class and he still had graduate students. So I would see him in the hallways and we'd chat.

The class of 78 (those of us that began working here in 1978) are now the senior people in the faculty (not many of us left actually - 5). We are the longest serving faculty members. There is no one with more history in our faculty. We are now at the point where some of our present colleagues don't know who our former colleagues were or what they accomplished.

This isn't a bad thing. My newer colleagues have inspired me and challenged me and helped me grow and change. These are good things.

But there is comfort in the familiar. There are other former colleagues that are still alive (I saw a few of them at Peter's funeral) but they rarely come around.

Peter, in a way, was the last of the familiar.