Tuesday, August 13, 2013

For RCR: with love

With great and significant sadness I learned that my Greek professor is suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, a terminal illness for which no cure has been found. My Greek professor is not just my Greek professor, but a very dear, dear friend. We spent not a few nights in Chicago at the Lyric Opera House in the peanut gallery watching the Emerson String Quartet or Cecilia Bartoli, visiting Cafe des Artistes afterwards for coffee, long nights in Wisconsin talking about our cumulative travels, and so forth. He's a scholar of Marmot gear, of Tilley outerwear with its great colorful and flower-laden prints, of the TLS and NYRB. His patience as a professor and an aficionado of native flora served me well, and I would not exist today without his friendship.

During my tumultuous graduate career we made meals together when I lived in an unrestored Craftsman (Wisconsin with no storm windows) with Chinese medical students who brought home entire cow heads and sheep hearts for supper. After a long day in the library, I would be greeted with a dead cormorant on the table. Or a sheep's heart. I couldn't exist in that kitchen, and Dr. Ross realized that. We had lovely salads with beautiful balsamic vinegar, nice protein and delicate wines.

We both cherished editions of the New Yorker back in the day, before it had degraded to what it is today. We read the NYRB, he had a long term subscription of the TLS, and he taught me how to make soft boiled eggs to perfection. [His subscription of the TLS came to his address which was actually on Woodburn Ave, but translated to Would Burn Avenue, which made us both laugh heartily] Dr. Ross exemplified my adulthood, he taught me how to be an adult in a brutal world of academics, and even discouraged me from existing in such a world because he knew it would destroy my spirit. I inherited much of his beautiful spirit, and lots of out of print Greek and Latin books, some terrific Medieval history books including Vergil the Necromancer which is such a bizarre but beautiful book that explains the late Medieval history translations of Vergil. Among my prized possession is Dr. Ross's illustration from the Dutch edition of Ovid's Metamorphoseon, a hand painted illustration with dual text in Latin and Dutch. It hangs above my bed.

I miss Dr. Ross' missives sent on beautiful cotton Crane's paper. He remained my confidante, the one person who has access to everything I think and do and aspire to do and be. I miss my casual hitting partner, my dining partner over the San Francisco dishes with hippopotami (pronounced in Greek, mind you) on them, I miss Bessie Smith sessions and cheap white wine, the drives to the Newberry Library for my paleography classes, and the long nights talking about Pausanius. Dr. Ross is such a stellar classicist, so accomplished in the field of Greek epigraphy and manuscripts having studied under the best in the field at the University of Chicago, the Classical School at Athens and UC-Berkeley. My Greek professor is incredible, and remains the closest friend I've ever had. All my love to you, Dr. Ross. I miss your friendship.

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