It is grim irony that what killed my father was the result of turbulence. Vortices of hypertensive blood created a weakening such that the cells lining the vessels could no longer withstand the fluctuating shear and stress. The combined betrayal of material failure and chaos literally tore a hole in his heart. In my clinical opinion, except for the time dependence, he had an optimal death, one that was nearly instantaneous and painless.
My father was always early. Why couldn’t he be late, just this once? A selfish delay of 20 or so years, so that I could finally trounce him in chess; so that I could see him explain the right hand rule to his grandchildren; so that I could finally co-author that seminal paper by Aref, Aref, Aref and Aref; and so that I could learn those lessons that make a man great.
The accomplished, brilliant scientist and educational administrator that was seen by so many, did not need accolades to be the tyrant who made me do my homework, the gentle giant who tickled my head, and the voice that read about Darwin to me as I fell asleep.
While students trembled before that frightening intellect as they sought direction into the research unknown, I asked him about trivial math problems at a whim. He drafted the definitive articles in his field but always had time to proofread my papers for school. While he directed the course of students, departments, and colleges, he also led our soccer team to second to last place. Dad was invited to give summer schools in fluid dynamics, but I requested on demand lectures about Poiseuille flow, particularly the night before my homework was due.
I won’t miss my father, because he really isn’t gone. I see his handsome nose and dashing crooked smile everyday in the mirror. My brother is an improved blond clone with a superior hairline. Dad’s voice, wherever he was, has always remained in my ear. His legacy lives on in all his children, both biological and intellectual. Thirty six years is far too short to love my dad, and so sudden a departure robs us all of a smiling and clever good-bye.