Monday, 12 March 2012

Post script from John Lepage

Dear Carol,
Pam and I have just heard about Mike's death, and I wanted to pass on our most heartfelt sympathies. We are travelling in Mexico and have not been in touch, and so we were shocked to have this news. I want you to know that of all my senior colleagues Mike was the one to whom I most looked for kindred feeling, intellectual fellow-feeling, and humour. As a middle-aged fogey I looked to Mike's faux gruffness as a gesture of shared humanity. We shared a fondness for the unusual power of words that made me go to him when I needed a smile or a laugh. Mike hated the word "centre" applied to a building. He loved and collected the names of students who could not spell their own names, as he put it, like Micheal for Michael.  He loved unwitting puns, like the sailor changing his tact. Once, when I was dean, he came to me to indicate he was in trouble because he had used bad language in the classroom and certain students had objected to it. In spite of my reassurances, he insisted that he deserved some form of recrimination because he had acted inappropriately out of his love of the drama of the moment. Nothing came of it in the end, because nothing could not come of it and because his students, who loved him, could not complain. I loved Mike's humanity, which well bespoke our faculty, and from what I have just now heard, Mike carried that humanity and all its dignity into the last moments of his life. I will miss him dearly, and I am so sorry for you and Alison that he had to go. It is moments like this that put me in touch with my own mortality, and when I survey my own life I worry about the lack of dignity next to that modelled by great people like Mike. In your middle age you begin to realize how little time there is in order to make good on life. Mike made good on life.
You have all our sympathies and  best wishes - John (for Pam)

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