30 April, 2014

{lyrically plagiarized} 2: sarah mclachlan

My dad has written about a period in which he was very ill in the ICU several times on this site, including the poem here.

This is the song that I sang to him while he was sedated. Of course, he did not remember. 

I will be the answer at the end of the line
I will be there for you while you take the time
In the burning of uncertainty, I will be your solid ground
I will hold the balance if you can't look down

If it takes my whole life, I won't break I won't bend
It'll all be worth it, worth it in the end
'Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
When the stars have all gone out
You'll still be burning so bright

Cast me gently into morning
For the night has been unkind
Take me to a place so holy
That I can wash this from my mind
The memory of choosing not to fight

Seneca Rocks, West Virginia
July 2003
Cast me gently into morning for the night has been unkind

Answer, by Sarah McLachlan

28 April, 2014

Parents Want Learning

The following is a speech my father gave fifteen years ago at a forum on quality in higher education at the University of Virginia.

This is a pleasure. As a Virginia alumnus of some 29 years and as a parent of a first year student, it was very rewarding to be asked to speak on today’s issue of quality in higher education – a parent’s perspective.

I must confess that preparing these remarks was more difficult than I thought it would be. Of course, my daughter had been quick to volunteer me as a contributor, and Dr. Mikelson graciously agreed.

And as I struggled over just what to say, I found myself recalling the words of Mother Teresa. Probably with a very big sigh, she was heard to say that she was sure that God wouldn’t give her anything she couldn’t handle; she just wished he didn’t trust her so much.

Well, I am sure my daughter and Dr. Mikelson wouldn’t ask me to do anything I couldn’t handle, but last night I was wishing they hadn’t trusted me so much.

They had asked me to give the parent’s perspective on what represents or determines quality in higher education. As a parent, of course, I should have clear opinions.

But I have also been a professor for 24 years and an academic dean/vice-president for nearly a dozen. I found it very difficult to separate what I thought as a parent and what I hoped other parents thought from what I knew as a professional in higher education.

As any self-respecting academic would, my first thought was to go to the research, to the journals – surely I thought there was a rich literature on parental opinions about quality. No, there isn’t – it’s pretty slim pickins'. So I thought I’d surf the web – browse the internet – where scholarly rules aren’t quite as rigid and advice is free. Still very little.

As a last resort I thought I’d collect my own data – I’d survey everyone who came in my office. I had plenty of colleagues who were parents and who had sent children off to college. I received lots of interesting ideas, but, of course, my colleagues were all higher education professionals with ideas that were perhaps a little too insider-ish.

Then – serendipity struck, as it usually does in research. Last week my college held an open house for prospective students, and I had the opportunity to query nearly 400 parents and students – or at least as many as I could that day.

So, I finally had something to report – and lots of it. I called my daughter to confirm how much time I had. She told me I started at 1:30 and I could speak as long as I wanted, but everyone else would be leaving 20 minutes after I began. So, I guess I have 20 minutes, but I don’t think I’ll need all of it.

The parents with whom I spoke were very insightful. Basically they told me that quality was determined by a college’s or university’s ability to deliver expected benefits. Those weren’t their words, but that’s my distillation of them.

Many parents did add a kicker - quality was a college’s or university’s ability to deliver expected benefits - at an acceptable price. So clearly quality was being somehow related to value – at least when they were attempting to choose among different schools. They wanted quality but knew there were limits to how much quality they could afford.

These expected benefits are many, but can be grouped into three categories.

First and foremost, educational or academic benefits – just as it sounds. Development of intellectual capacity, critical thinking and communication skills, and a knowledge base with depth and breadth. Development of values, attitudes, and self-image. Sensitivity to diversity and an understanding of the strength arising from diversity. Refinement and development of personal interests.

Secondly, there are the personal or non-academic benefits which revolve around the extracurricular life of an institution, athletics, social life, the politics and activities or perhaps making peer contacts that may later pay dividends.

Lastly, there are what one colleague has called the fringe benefits. These are post-college outcomes that are not really due to the student’s development itself. They’re due to a cachet the college offers, the power of the credential. Just having a degree from a university as distinguished as UVa or Stanford or Harvard or Michigan will by itself open a few doors that might not otherwise be opened. Very hard to measure, but it is clearly an expectation at some schools.

Now the parents with whom I spoke didn’t mention all of these, but they mentioned many of them. And it was clear  that they that were interested in these benefits. They were interested – in a word - in outcomes That was how they measured quality.

They were disappointed that outcome was such a hard thing to learn about. Mostly they heard about promises of outcomes. Little data.

Sure, they were impressed by reputation – it was usually the first thing mentioned as a measure of quality. but they were sophisticated enough to understand that reputation – at least as it’s currently bandied about by the ratings press – US News & World Report, Princeton Review, Peterson’s, etc. – is determined mostly by input measures. They wanted something else. They wanted proof.

They are sophisticated shoppers. They knew what all the so-called “important” measures were. And they knew there was – perhaps – some correlation between the inputs and the outcomes.

Input measures: endowment per student, campus beauty, faculty-student ratios, % PhDs on the faculty, and the major one – selectivity. How many students are denied admission. It seems the more selective a school is, the higher the perceived quality. Some were sharp enough to focus on retention – how many students stay at the school.

At a college like mine the national averages suggest just over 1/5 leave after one year

A few were even savvy enough or perhaps cynical enough to know that schools played the reputation or ratings game. Very close to my home there are two nationally ranked liberal arts colleges – both in the top 15 in the country. One of those schools keeps a staff member – a full-time staff member – whose primary responsibility is tracking those indicators that go into the rankings – so that they keep themselves rated highly – presumably by bending the reported data or investing in those things the raters say are important.

These parents understood that many of those measures are significant – that they are generally important indicators, but they felt that the quality a school should be measured more by the kind of student it graduates, by the kind of student it turns out rather than by the kind of student it keeps out.

Granted, my sample may be biased– these are parents of prospective students visiting a fairly young liberal arts college (53 years old) of about 1700 students with an average regional reputation and with only a moderately difficult admissions standard. But I think their perceptions will resonate with most parents. They are certainly more typical of the average American college parent than the parent of a student at UVa.

They’re concerned about learning. And the typical student at UVa would learn regardless of the resources the ratings think important made available to them.

They want to measure quality by looking at how much value has been added by the college or university – what the education professionals call talent development. They thought that colleges and universities should be student-centered. They – above all - wanted the focus to be on undergraduate teaching and learning. Some were surprised and some weren’t when I told them that the American University usually thought of as #1 is frequently criticized for its poor teaching and is finally trying to do something about it.

Since outcome measures are still difficult to come by – in spite of nationwide initiatives on outcome assessment, I asked these parents what input measures they considered the most important – the ones they thought would foster the student development they wanted to see.

The emphasis was always on availability.

They wanted to know first about professors' availability  - were the classes taught by full-time faculty? – not adjuncts or teaching assistants – were the professors available for outside of class interaction? – were the class sizes small? - what was the teaching style? They preferred interactive discussion – or actually anything which fosters active learning.

And they wanted good availability of supporting resources – extended library hours, computer access, tutoring (peer or otherwise).

In both cases of availability, the focus is on teaching and learning. They were less concerned with the number of volumes in the library or how many faculty had doctorates – as long as they were good teachers.

As I reflected back on what I had heard, it occurred to me that what they wanted was very similar to something I’d read on academic excellence when I first became a dean. I’ve added a few points of my own to those.

Parents want a university where the core mission is talent development, where the core mission is student learning.
  • Where the entire academic community is united in working toward that goal.
  • Where teaching and advising are given high priority.
Where the university has a system that rewards effective teaching first and foremost – conspicuous success in teaching. Conspicuous success - learning, not teaching, was important. There is no teaching without learning. Parents want learning.
  • Where the best students are encouraged to become teachers.
  • Where there are no faculty “stars” who have been lured to campus with low or even no teaching loads.
  • Where faculty research  - and please don’t think I’m diminishing the value of research - is used as a tool to enhance the teacher/learner process – students are involved in that research.
  • Where students are exposed to an environment in which the values of education and service to others take precedence over the values of acquiring resources for the school and improving the status of the school.
A university that does all those things and does them well is a university that is student-centered, it is a university that adds significant value to whatever abilities or talents a student brings into the university, and it is a university that parents will consider to be of high quality.

It doesn’t have to have the largest endowment, the latest toys, the biggest stars – it has to stress and foster student learning. Any parent will tell you that those that do it best have the highest quality.

April, 1999

26 April, 2014



When you were born, I didn't breathe for fear
Of what? Listening for a hushed sigh
In the soft dark, warm dew settling on my cheek.

Helix, wave, silver coin, and sharpest knife:
I could walk through fire for you, my only
Fear: what if it is not a choice?

At night, I picture my fears, like monsters
Under your crib. I come back to this: Cancer
Is not the worst that can happen to us.

The first died alone, in peace; hearts do forget to beat.
I lay on cold, solid ground, and the earth turned.
Stars watched: we were all in it together.

The second died lonely, in fear; we fall on our knees.
I wanted to believe in demons, but found only
Human weakness: such selfish creatures.

At dawn, I remember the lone candle,
Flickering softly in the darkness. If
You get to say good-bye, you are lucky.


I think there is some rule against discussing your own poety in this depth, but then, my creative writing side has always been adamantly prose fiction-oriented. When I wrote this poem, I hadn't attempted poetry in a solid 15 years (not since "Wings in the Wind", which my dad reprinted here), unless you count my fabulous reworking of "The Night Before Christmas" (reprinted here). Surely you’ve heard the expression “a face only a mother could love”, but even mothers and fathers are not genetically compelled to love a teenager's poetry.

Anyway, I wrote the third stanza as part of a writing workshop at a conference for physicians with graduate degrees in the humanities (mine is in medical anthropology). We were asked to write for a minute or two about a variety of words. The word that inspired that stanza was “fear."

Almost three months before the conference (at which I was speaking about end of life decision making in pediatric oncology), my good friend Melissa was murdered in her home. It was, truly, a random act of senseless violence. She was the second friend I had lost suddenly.

For much of the last year, I have felt the weight of their deaths heavy in my heart. When I walk in and out of my hospital, I often feel that their echoes (something more tangible than memory, but less than I imagine a presence to be) have followed along with me. They are joined by a young patient, who often reminded me of myself at that age, and to whose family I felt especially close, and by Mitch, my former partner’s stepfather. I don’t know how to describe my feelings for Mitch, except to say that, having grown up in a family deeply bound by blood and with an extraordinary father of my own, he was the first and only man unrelated to me whom I came to regard as an uncle/grandfather figure. 

Not saying good-bye was a common thread: After my patient’s family signed a DNR order (do not resuscitate), they did not want to see me again; though I deeply respected their right to privacy, I couldn’t help but worry that I had done something wrong. I often wished that I had included my patient more directly in that final conversation and better respected her autonomy as a young adult. 

Mitch died shortly after I arrived in Thailand on holiday - a trip that he indirectly inspired, by passing an obsession with Thai food on to his teenage stepson, who passed it on to me. A few days prior, I sent him a birthday card and, knowing I might not have another opportunity, thanked him for being a father to my ex. His mother told me Mitch received the card, but I'll always suspect I put it in the mail too late and wonder if he really read it.

When I wrote this, I regretted never getting to say good-bye to these people who had such a profound influence on me, in life and in death. After my father’s death, I believe less and less than such regrets really matter. I have no doubt that my friends and loved ones have found some kind of peace, in whatever lies beyond human existence and comprehension. I don't think I believe in a physical afterlife, but if I did, I'd hope Mitch and my dad were there playing golf together...something they were never able to do in this life because of my dad's health.

But I also think that all that came before their deaths matters, and usually matters more. It matters that Mitch and I once ditched the then-boyfriend (a snowboarder) in Snowbird, Utah, and spent the day skiing together in Alta. It matters that he fulfilled a childhood dream and taught me to shoot skeet – and that I told him so.

My last text message conversation with my father was about whether a dark, ironic sense of humor and tendency to sarcasm was more prevalent in the northeast and whether this should influence my job search. He was watching the movie Holes, three days before he died. Our last phone conversation, two days before he died, was hopelessly mundane – my alarm system went off accidentally and the company called him as one of my emergency contacts. I can’t remember it clearly, but I know we never hung up without saying “love you”, so I’m sure we did.

But best of all, the morning before, my son and I chatted with him FaceTime. Finn kept calling “Gah-pah” - not to be confused with "gaga", his version of "doggy" - whenever he stepped away from the screen and smiling a mile wide whenever his grandpa stepped back into the frame. I was happy. He looked happy. Later, we went to the park and I texted my family with photos of Finn in front of a pair of snowpeople and their snowdog.

Twenty-six years ago this spring, my dad stepped into our backyard with our dog, Tocco, and when he stepped back inside, his speech made no sense. I ran to get my mother (and my copy of Emily of New Moon, where it explained how consumption was acquired from night air - I had an early aptitude for differential diagnosis, obviously). By the morning, he had developed florid septic shock. He survived, and I recently a found a yellowed copy of the college newspaper with a graphic headline and a quote from my dad: “It’s hard to get rid of me.”

Apparently, he felt the need to reinforce the point, because three years later and two days after my eleventh birthday party, he had a massive heart attack, from the type of blockage, he told me later, that cardiologists called the “Widowmaker.” Early heart attacks were not uncommon in survivors of Hodgkin disease who were treated with mantle irradiation in the 1970s and 1980s. 

From that point on, I had a sense – and surely he did too – that we were lucky and that time was precious and not something one was guaranteed. There was a time when I prayed to God for more time - five more years, and then another five. And then when I was starting my third year of medical school, he was diagnosed with heart failure - also not uncommon in childhood cancer survivors - and I lowered my prayer bar - three years, then two years, then one more year. Finally - after the events that my dad has described eloquently in his posts, Amen and Resurrection, 18 Days Later, Poetically Twilightand The Keepers and I - I stopped asking for more time and started being grateful for the day that we had.

My dad wrote much the same sentiment in Amen and Resurrection.

I did not think I would lose my dad on that day, or even this spring. But there has never been a day in the last five years when I didn't wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night completely aware that life is fragile and that any day could be anyone's last. I never hesitate to tell people I love them.

I didn't get to say good-bye. But now I think I got to say and do things that mattered much more.
Family make-your-own pizza night
January 2014

I cried with my father at the American Cemetery in Normandy. I took him to my medical school's service of gratitude, in honor of the people who donated their bodies for anatomic dissection. He flew to Atlanta to take care me after a relationship had ended, laughing at his own old heartbreaks but never once making a 22 year old girl feel like her broken heart was a trivial thing. We went to see the Kirov Ballet perform Giselle together in St. Petersburg and had vodka, smoked salmon and caviar afterwards (the latter two were just for me, of course). I spent the night lying on the marble bathroom floor (worshiping the porcelain god, he would have said), and he never said a word about it.

My father held my son, and every night for over a month this winter, my son hugged his grandfather good-night.

I told him that this day was one of the best five days of my life.

A cemetery in Scotland with huge gravestones to accommodate long family histories...
June 2005

24 April, 2014


Go placidly amid the noise & haste, but better yet,
avoid the noise and haste altogether. Be on good terms
with all persons as far as possible; especially with shopkeepers.

Speak the truth plainly & clearly; listen to others, even the dull and
ignorant, until you are certain they are utterly useless.
When you are not among men of reason, it is better to run than argue.
Make use of loud & aggressive persons like salesmen, and use them to broadcast your radical views.

If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain & bitter;
for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself.
This is a good thing; vanity makes you more interesting to look at,
and bitterness makes you more practical and realistic.

Keep a strong interest in your own career, however humble; 
but if you don't enjoy humility for its own sake,
learn to exercise yourself in greater spheres of action.
Once you know something, it is yours forever;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
You always have to take care of wealth; knowledge takes care of you.

Exercise caution in you business affairs; for the world is full of people
who must turn a profit to survive. Many persons strive for high ideals;
some thrive, and some starve. There is no good reason to starve. Most
people throw away treasures. Many useful & interesting items can be had
for half price, if you are willing to buy them used.

Be yourself. Especially, do not deny yourself pleasure for fear of social stigma. 
Indulge yourself in private. If you love yourself shamelessly, others will love you.

Resist aging and death with every resource available to you. 
Nurture skills of self-defense. Learn how to survive under difficult conditions;
this may shield you in sudden misfortune. Distinguish between illusion
and reality, between emotion and fact. Avoid making important decisions on
too little sleep.

Kick your own ass. The universe neither cares about you nor recognizes any
obligation to you. It is fixed and blind, a mad robot programmed to kill.
You are free and seeing; you must outwit it at every poor turn.

Whatever your labors & aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, you
must create your own sanity, prosperity, and peace.
The world is so gorgeous it hurts. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Copyright 1995 Romana Machado


23 April, 2014

{lyrically plagiarized} 1: josé gonzález

Stay Alive
There’s a rhythm in rush these days
Where the lights don’t move and the colors don’t fade
Leaves you empty with nothing but dreams
In a world gone shallow 
In a world gone lean
Sunrise on the summit of Tajumulco
Guatemala, March 2008
Sometimes there’s things a man cannot know
Gears won’t turn and the leaves won’t grow
There’s no place to run and no gasoline
Engine won’t turn
And the train won’t leave
Engines won’t turn and the train won’t leave

I will stay with you tonight
Hold you close ‘til the morning light
In the morning watch a new day rise
We’ll do whatever just to stay alive
We’ll do whatever just to stay alive

Well the way I feel is the way I write
It isn’t like the thoughts of the man who lies
There is a truth and it’s on our side
Dawn is coming 
Open your eyes
Look into the sun as the new days rise

And I will wait for you tonight
You’re here forever and you’re by my side
I’ve been waiting all my life
To feel your heart as it’s keeping time
We’ll do whatever just to stay alive

Dawn is coming 
Open your eyes
Dawn is coming
Open your eyes
Dawn is coming
Open your eyes
Dawn is coming
Open your eyes

Look into the sun as the new days rise
There’s a rhythm in rush these days
Where the lights don’t move and the colors don’t fade
Leaves you empty with nothing but dreams
In a world gone shallow
In a world gone lean

But there is a truth and it’s on our side
Dawn is coming open your eyes
Look into the sun as a new days rise

Stay Alive, by José González

22 April, 2014

“If you remember me, then I don't care if everyone else forgets.”

“If you remember me, then I don't care if everyone else forgets.”
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Many people have posted beautiful reflections and memories of my dad, and I wanted to pull as many as I could together in one place. I don't know whether I'll stumble back to some of the sites (for instance, from our funeral home) in years to come, but I hope this blog will keep going for a long, long time. I especially want to leave my son with a truly rich portrait of his grandfather.

I compiled the following quotes from posts on the online obituary sites and facebook. I trust that everyone who posted will not mind my reprinting them here.

One thing I took away - as someone currently searching for my first academic job - is that I really wish I could have worked for my dad.


Frank Bergmann:
As one of Thom's associate deans at UC for some years, I came to appreciate his style of leadership. He did not micromanage but trusted those he worked with. Versed in the educational law of the State of NY, he knew how to satisfy Big Brother without compromising his personal or the college's institutional integrity. I do not remember this Virginia Cavalier ever to lose his cool, even when he had reason to be upset. His quiet and thoughtful demeanor was enlivened by a fine sense of humor. He looked for the good in people, and I learned to take his advice to "trust the group."

Given his health problems, he could not have been as successful as he was without the devotion of his wife Civita and his daughters Amy and Megan as well as the support of a wider circle of family, friends, and caregivers. He certainly did not waste his own or other people's time playing bureaucratic games; he saw, he thought, he consulted, he decided. And his word was good; rarely was there need of a paper trail.

A good man has left us; may the Lord bless him and his family.

Joann Marshall:
The world has lost a very kind and gentle man. Thom thank you for your many contributions to RCIL and the community we serve. Your many contributions will remain ever present here!

Girard Plante:
While a student at Utica College (1983-88), I met Dr. Brown as I began studying journalism. His interest in how students were faring as we began our 'UC Experience' was evident as he stopped to chat in the halls of Strebel Center and to welcome me to UC. I also grew to know well and admire Dr. Brown during my six-year (1986-92) tenure serving on the Board of Directors at the Resource Center for Independent Living.

As we moved along the same paths at UC and at RCIL, I saw a man whose courage of his convictions shone through every challenge that we encountered in serving people with disabilities and to ensure that RCIL be a steadfast voice within the community for people in need. And he is one of the dozen UC professors who supported my cause to bring safe and easy access for people with disabilities to UC. Rightful changes occurred largely because of the unwavering support and encouragement by Dr. Brown to plod along despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The barriers fell! Access achieved.

Dr. Brown harbored that pearl of wisdom which allowed him to innately know that doing nothing during crises of all manner, as well as confront life's inevitable challenges as opposed to looking the other way no matter the result, is no option. His quiet strength provided invaluable decision-making at both RCIL and during his brief interim stint as President of Utica College.

Because I knew Dr. Brown rather well from working alongside him at RCIL, I was elated and not surprised that of all the many worthy candidates being considered to fulfill the leadership role at UC, the Board of Trustees chose him to move the college along until the person with the 'right stuff' could be found to be its new president. Dr. Brown's moral and ethical attributes provided a seamless and successful transition at UC.

Paul and Jane Waszkiewicz:
Thom was always a thoughtful, kind man when ever we or I would run into him at the college.

John Rowe:
I was privileged to know Thom for only a few years at UC, coming in 2006. But what a great friend and inspiration he was to me! A true gentleman and scholar who would personify his daily life at UC with a photo each day of a tree...greatness in a humble symbol. That was Thom.

Patti and Joe Fariello:
We are remembering Thom as a dedicated and distinguished educator who shared the knowledge, love, and passion he had for his field with Utica College students since 1975. We were blessed to have known this kind and gentle man, and to be able to call him our friend.

Carol Downing:
Thom, you and I shared a fascination with the geese that would visit Utica College in the spring and fall. We both loved watching them approach and land - often expecting them to run into each other, and enjoying the ballet of these creatures that would announce their arrival with that honking sound that would cause us to look up to find the 'V.' You were the census taker, reporting on the goose population as well as the number of disgruntled seagulls wandering around the fringes of the flock. When our feathered visitors arrive this spring, and ask where you are, I will point to the sky - and they will understand.

Hartwell Herring:
Outside of both being College Professors and Southerners, one would think we would have had nothing in common. And we came to know each other, for me anyway, well past middle age. But we were friends and shared intellectual space that I find difficult to describe. Thom was also one of the most courageous people I ever knew. He had a lot of friends … I do not, and I will miss him ever day.

Gina Bernadette:
He LOVED his grandson, Finn, and his face would light up whenever I asked about him. He LOVED that little boy and loved being a granddad. Thom was a great man- my favorite at UC- not just as my former professor, but later as a colleague and friend. He loved his wife and daughters and was proud of all of their accomplishments. I will truly miss him and his smile. He was definitely a great guy!


Alan Nolan:
My mentor, my advisor, always my voice of reason, if there ever was a living heart, giving a hunger for learning, for intrigue, for research, for healthy skepticism, for the humor in all things, it was born anew in your presence. You gave me a vision for my life. You helped me struggle with my research, and gave me insights, even into my long days and nights, where the investment resulting in my hopes being thwarted by the results, discovered through my research. You said, "This is a good thing. You've contributed to the data pool." You never left me, or ever let me, down. I smile when I think that you could have used the available computer systems, but you took the long hours and built me a classic behaviorist's lab with the racks and racks of wires, switches, lights, and twitching pens scratching off red inked waves of frequencies on countless rolls of paper. You always gave me time, and in a moment, a special, defining moment of what a professor, a teacher, a mentor, a selfless man and a friend meant, you embraced me on stage at my graduation, knowing I was weak kneed and finding it hard to let of you, and UC. You urged me on, and as life would have it, your heart for teaching became my own. Your inspiration for research became my own. You generativity filled my heart to overflow for my own students. I love you, Thom. I always will. Time and distance has never changed that . . . it never will. many of my most cherished, great memories, are you. HAL 2000.

Rich Jackson:
I met Thom in my sophomore year at UC 76/77. Over the next 3 years Thom was not only my teacher, but a mentor, and friend. After graduation in 79, I moved away, and as is too often the case, years often separated the times we connected by phone. We exchanged messages, around New Years about getting together the next time I was In town, and before he retired. I just wanted to tell him what a difference he made in my life...so Thom ... Thank you for making a difference in my life; and as evidenced on this site; the life of everyone you touched. The world was a better place because of you.

Kassie Schaare:
Dr. Brown was one of my favorite professors at Utica College. You guided me throughout my college career, always supporting decisions that were made, even cheering me on by telling me to pursue my interests. You were the professor that I could truly say you were there to help students, no matter what the problem was. I also remember how you enjoyed my comments in class, such as becoming a horse thief, and bringing in bobble heads to class. After asking if he had a collection of famous psychologists bobble heads, he decided to bring one of Sigmund Freud in, and in my child-like manner, proceeded to make it bobble and run. He laughed, he always did have a laugh at my child-like manner. I'm going to miss him. I even enjoyed coming into your office yelling "WHAT'S UP, DR. BROWN?!" and talking about your Hard Rock cafe collection, artwork, and even just seeing how things were going.

Laurie Fazekas:
He was a wonderful professor and will be missed by so many.

Sarah Sorge:
Dr. Brown was an incredible professor and showed the same love he gave to his family in the love and devotion he gave to his friends, colleagues, and students. There are no words to show how much he'll be missed.

Professor, I'm literally speechless at losing you. I'm saddened, more empty, and the world is lesser without you. The best I can say is thank you, from one teacher to another, for making me a better person to those I meet and work with. I wouldn't have been the same without you!

Brianne Parent:
Dr. Brown was a truly memorable professor.

Caryn (Faby) Anatriello:
Dr. Brown was an amazing professor. He will be missed.

Sue Beaudoin Schober:
I graduated from Utica College in '82. Dr Brown was the professor of several classes I took. I always like him, he was a good teacher. I had an early morning summer class with him one year and was so afraid of falling asleep in class but Dr Brown kept the class lively and interesting.


Charlie Russ:
Despite all his medical issues I thought he would live forever. In the days leading up to our wedding, it was Betsy that finally convinced him to see a doctor about the lump on his neck that would prove to be Hodgkin's. At that time the published material indicated there was no cure. But Tommy, being Tommy, led a charmed life. He has always been a true and loyal friend, my best friend from childhood, and my daughter's Godfather. We mourn the loss and will miss him greatly.

Gene Cochran:
Thoms' wonderful presence projected so artfully through his postings will be sorely missed. To his family, Thom and I were good friends in high school although he defeated me in the election for Senior Class President. To this day I know he paid for those winning votes! You were lucky to have had such a great guy in your life. I know I was.

Gee Faison:
He was a class guy from when I met him in the 8th grade to the last posts before he died. His demeanor never belied his circumstance. My respect for him has risen, sadly, with his parting.

Brenda Lett Bacie:
Rest in peace Thom. You will be missed. You made a difference in this world. I will miss your pictures of your tree outside your office.

Adriene Joyce:
Thank you for all the knowledge and wisdom you have shared with us on your blog, Thom, as well as your support and encouragement of our endeavors in the blogging community. You will be missed even as you live on in our memory and in that beautiful tree outside your window that has stood the test of time.

Michael Baum:
I never met Dr. Brown. I only knew him by following and reading his blog for well over two years. Thom brought joy to my life through his funny, serious, insightful, and captivating posts. He made me smile with the jokes he posted; marvel at the beauty of his poetry; and think about the important issues he raised, especially the subject of disabilities. What I remember most about his posts is that through all the adversity, Thom saw himself as “a most fortunate man.” He was surely a man who saw and embraced the best in life and reveled in its love, its wonder, and its joys. I will miss his inspiration. When I read the post by one of his daughters that he has passed, I felt a loss and had tears in my eyes. Thom touched people he never met.

Sue Cooper:
To Thom's Girls: He loved the three of you so much. He relished in the fact that you were all so special and beautiful and bright. His life became so much wealthier when Finn arrived! His wit, humor and intelligence, his love of wine and his family he gained via marriage.......all of which he shared with all of us, will forever be remembered. Tree is a Woman! She is a beautiful remembrance of Thom's writings. I know you know how dear Thom is to me. A part of my heart died today.

21 April, 2014

Mighty Finn Update #25 - Racing Past the Two Year Mark

I wanted to continue some of my father's blog traditions. Here's my first effort. ~AECB

My mommy made me this beautiful tres leches birthday cake (you can see last year's here!) completely from scratch (including the whipped cream) and decorated it with sprinkles from Auntie's bottomless supply. Only she didn't put nearly enough - I mean, you could still see the white stuff - so I added an extra cup. What's that you say? I covered some of the letters? As far as I'm concerned, "Hpy" is just as likely to mean "Happy" as anything else.

Here I am wondering if they are going to try to play 

My cousin Emmi drew this with my crayons on the bathtub wall. 
I am so in love. 

Oops, I think her sister got jealous. 
The next day, I found myself with TWO valentines! 
Emmi is 10 and Chloe is 12...I've always liked older women.

Sunday morning, and I thought we should snuggle in Mommy's bed. I tried calling for her, but she was busy making coffee. So then I tried my secret weapon: quietly mischievous giggling. She came running. 

Okay, technically, it wasn't my first trip to the Atlantic Ocean...or to Virginia Beach...but it is my first trip to the ocean in Virginia Beach...and it's Grampy's beach. We came here to have dinner with my Great-Grandmama (Grandpa's mommy). But first Auntie took me to a special place to play hide and seek. There were rows and rows of fluffy white dresses to hide under...

My nonna came to visit because Mommy had to be on call. We went out to dinner and shared this yummy chocolate milkshake...although what I really wanted to do was lick the red pepper aioli off my fingers, one at a time. Of course, she let me.

I love to feel the wind in my hair...

I built this whole tower all by myself. 
(On my honor, that pink block does not fall.) 
Grandpa would have been so proud.

19 April, 2014

The Pips of Child Life

We're proud to announce the publication of The Pips of Child Life: Early Play Programs in Hospitals, a history of the earliest years of the field of child life. My mom, Civita, is one of the co-authors and my dad, Thom, contributed a chapter entitled "Schools of Thought: The Influence of Theory." 

From the publisher:
Long before apples were cultivated it is believed they grew wild.

The Pips of Child Life: Early Play Programs in Hospitals offers a glimpse into the early play activities and programs in hospitals (1900-1970’s) and the women who led the way. This text reveals the core of play programs relative to the social historical contexts prior to the formation of play as a healthcare profession eventually known as child life. The nine chapters included in this collection were developed as stories composed to share knowledge from the existing records and memories of the early play programs in North America.
by Joan C. Turner and Civita A. Brown

Available from: http://www.kendallhunt.com/store-product.aspx?id=212355

I haven't yet read my dad's chapter, although I helped edit several others, so I'm looking forward to it. For many years, I tried not to read this blog every day, knowing that some day "discovering" my dad's words would be especially sweet.


18 April, 2014

And then I fell apart

I was feeling pleased with the manuscript reporting the results of my fellowship research + annoyed at the ridiculous requirements for formatting to submit it as my thesis.

And then I fell apart.

09 April, 2014

Light For The Navigator, II

Wednesday Without Words

Ocracoke Light Station, Built 1823
(replacing a 1795 tower)
Ocracoke Island
North Carolina

Originally posted three years ago, my father planned to revisit this series of lighthouses this year. Although he never did, I have chosen to repost these monthly on the day of his passing, in his memory and in celebration of his love for lighthouses.

See: Birth of Salvation
Digital scan of 35mm color slide
Copyright © 2011 Thomas G. Brown

01 April, 2014

Tuesdays With Another

from Teste d'Arancia

One morning a man comes back after many hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Even though she rarely goes out on the lake, the wife decided to go sailing. She started the engine and went a little distance out from the shore. Once there, she dropped the anchor and began to read her book.

Soon a game warden arrived by boat and said, "Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?"

"I'm reading a book," she replied trying hard not to say what she is thinking - "Isn't it obvious?!"

"You are in a prohibited fishing area," he said.

"I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm just reading."

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. As far as I know, you could start at any time. I must bring you and your boat in with me and report this infraction."

"If you do, officer, I will accuse you of sexual harassment," she said.

"But I did not even touch you!" the surprised warden said.

"This is true, but you have all the equipment. As far as I know, you could start at any time."

"Have a nice day ma'am," he replied as he went off and left her alone to read.

Never argue with a woman who reads - that she can also think is very likely.