Thursday, November 10, 2011

reunited in austin

My parents both went to the University of Texas at Austin. I think they probably met before Mom was technically a student there, but UT is certainly where their romance blossomed, and they were married in Austin in 1966. Dad was a college buddy of Mom's older brother Tom, which is how they met, no doubt when Tom brought his buddy home over some college break, and Joe noticed his cute younger sister sitting haughtily in the back seat of the car (at least I think that's the story I was told). So naturally, I felt it was important that they both reside there in the afterlife somehow.

My uncle Dwight (Mom's other brother) lives in Austin, and had already scattered her ashes under a big beautiful oak tree near the LBJ Library. It's a gigantic old tree, in a peaceful meadow on a quiet corner of campus. He took me there, and showed me where he'd placed Mom, near some low-hanging branches, the sunlight glinting through them from under the tree's canopy. I placed Dad there too. He would totally go on a tirade about being in proximity to anything having to do with LBJ, but it's a lovely location, and I think part of him must have secretly enjoyed those tirades in life. Rant on, Dad, rant on.

I wandered the campus for a while, and scattered some Dad ashes in a nice turtle pond near the infamous Campanile from which Charles Whitman shot dozens of people in 1966. My parents both walked that route frequently, and could easily have been among the victims. Luckily they lived to die another day. I'm happy that Dwight brought Mom to campus, but UT was really Dad's place. It was a highlight (if not "the" highlight) of his life, and I swear a day didn't go by that he didn't talk about it (or at least think about it privately). That era defined him, at least in his own mind, so it felt especially necessary to bring him back there, to let his spirit enjoy campus life once again.

I went to Waggener Hall, which is the current home of both the Philosophy and Classics Departments, my parents' two majors. I don't know if this was the case in the 1960's, but I figured it was a good gesture (at least) to scatter some Dad ashes here too. Outside of course. But I did buy a UT Philosophy Department t-shirt in his honor.

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