@RobertTalisse It’s kind of a desecration, isn’t it, like “Body Worlds”-the exhibit that placed corpses in various acts and poses (playing basketball & tennis, riding a horse, playing cards, riding a bicycle)-mesmerizing, but disturbing.

February 28, 2021

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Don Enss, 1846-2021. https://t.co/N9XosFTu0n

February 27, 2021

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I’ve just posted on my Blog about: Don https://t.co/REDS0cwcaO

February 25, 2021

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Don

February 25, 2021

Don has left us, credential in hand. The Dean who first headed our Master of Liberal Arts program made sure of it, made sure Don got his diploma. Sometimes, in some ways, there is justice in this world. There’d be a lot more, if there were more people like Don. 

He was kind, caring, civically engaged (constantly writing letters to the editor and encouraging others to do likewise, working tirelessly on behalf of causes he believed in like expunging Nathan Bedford Forrest’s disgraced name from our ROTC building), and the very epitome of a Lifelong Learner. He knew instinctively and implicitly what John Dewey meant when he said education is not preparation for life, but life itself.
He was a decade ahead of me. My goal now is to possess and express a fraction of his curiosity and enthusiasm in 2030. Just being here then won’t suffice.
Just a decade, but I find myself experiencing almost-filial feelings of loss that remind me of my old dad’s departure over a decade ago.

Shortly before my father’s passing in 2008, I sat down with him and talked about things I’d long postponed. Then I read to him from an 1882 letter William James sent from abroad to his father on learning of the latter’s illness:

“Darling old Father,
…We have been so long accustomed to the hypothesis of your being taken away from us, especially during the past ten months, that the thought that this may be your last illness conveys no very sudden shock. You are old enough, you’ve given your message to the world in many ways and will not be forgotten; you are here left alone, and on the other side, let us hope and pray, dear, dear old Mother is waiting for you to join her. If you go, it will not be an inharmonious thing. Only, if you are still in possession of your normal consciousness, I should like to see you once again before we part… though we have often seemed at odds in the expression thereof, I’m sure there’s a harmony somewhere, and that our strivings will combine. What my debt to you is goes beyond all my power of estimating,—so early, so penetrating and so constant has been the influence… —As for the other side, and Mother, and our all possibly meeting, I can’t say anything. More than ever at this moment do I feel that if that were true, all would be solved and justified. And it comes strangely over me in bidding you good-bye how a life is but a day and expresses mainly but a single note. It is so much like the act of bidding an ordinary good-night. Good-night, my sacred old Father! If I don’t see you again—Farewell! a blessed farewell! Your WILLIAM.”

Don got his message out, I think. And the best case for dreaming of “the other side” I can think of is the prospect of talking to him again. But like my own dad, Don’s going to be with me for the rest of my life.

Our last communication:

Donald Enss
Sun, Feb 14, 1:12 PM (10 days ago)
to me

Dear Dr. Oliver,

Happy Birthday!

Don

Phil Oliver
Sun, Feb 14, 2:11 PM (10 days ago)
to Donald

Thank you, Don. You’ve inspired me to make the most of the years ahead.

And I’m not the only one.  

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“Bless his heart.” Curse his confusion. https://t.co/SthBDPFJXw

February 25, 2021

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@RobertTalisse Been a lot longer since I’ve sat there, but its memory is indelible. And I have no problem with the green chairs, green is the color of hope. And so we beat on, boats against the current…

February 25, 2021

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I’ve just posted on my Blog about: Hopeful for a good man https://t.co/gCqLLGUn41

February 22, 2021

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Hopeful for a good man

February 22, 2021

 The big thaw is happening here now, puddles of melt-water and piles of slush, dotted by shrinking patches of white, are all around. The dogs finally got a decent walk yesterday. And I got to Zoom with Older Daughter in LA and Younger Sister in MO. That’s the good news.

The sad news is that my student Don, who retired and returned to school when we began the Master of Liberal Arts program at MTSU several years ago, who has taken just about every class I offer, who rode with me to Dayton TN for the Scopes re-enactment a few summers ago, who is an expert on the history and significance of the women’s suffrage movement, and who is just a capstone project away from finishing his degree, is very ill. 

I don’t pray, but I do hope. I hope he knows what an inspiration he has been, to me and to so many others, persevering through a prolonged health crisis with grace and courage and good cheer. I’ve seen his kindness and wisdom positively impact his peers and countless younger students. He doesn’t need a formal credential to attest to all that, but I hope he gets it. 

And my hopes are more than wishes. 

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“If I repent of anything, it is likely to be my good behavior. What demon possessed me…?” HDT https://t.co/OcWMSQgLAu via @GoComics

February 17, 2021

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RT @baseballinpix: Pitchers and catchers report. https://t.co/QGyNCaaa2s

February 17, 2021

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