Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Mac Guy

Ed sat in the Yale New Haven emergency room watching the Peter Jennings news cast.

To Ed’s right double sided glass doors kept opening allowing the sick and wounded either to enter or exit from their visit in the ER.

Entering the ER through the glass doors you immediately stood in line at the triage desks on the right.

First stop was the nurse’s desk. Name, symptoms, how long the patient had been suffering and blood pressure were taken.
You could often hear the pleading of the sick and wounded to be “seen” as soon as possible as the pain were too much to bear.
Stock answers from the casually dressed uniformed nurses with their stethoscopes hanging around their neck were almost always the same. “ The Doctor will be with you shortly, please stop by the Admission Desk to fill out forms and then take a seat in the waiting room.
At the Admission Desk all insurance information was taken and forms for next of kin were filled out.

A security and a New Haven Police Officer sat a podium next to the Nurses station to monitor any form of annoyances from patients monitor entrance into the examining rooms itself. Friends or family of the sick were given Visitor passes once inside the exam rooms in order for them to leave or make phone calls while the patient was being seen by a doctor.

Yale’s emergency room is a desolate place to visit on any day or night, weekend or weekday.

Accompanying Ed on the uncomfortable blue and orange chairs were soon to be “patients” of all kinds. Sick children being held by their mother, adults coughing and wheezing, some bent over in physical pain, all waiting inordinate amounts of time to be seen by any doctor.

It was common knowledge that inside the swinging doors of the actual ER there were patients that took precedence over the waiting room patrons. Patients arriving by ambulance, gunshot wounds and stabbings were an everyday occurrence in New Haven regardless of time or day. Holidays were also busy times.

Ed was here for a schedule CT scan. He had pneumonia with a persistent fever for several months.
The prolonged condition caused concern among Ed's doctors and a CT scan was needed to see
exaclty what was going on inside his lungs.

Towards the end of the news cast Peter Jennings made a stunning announcement that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and would be undergoing treatment as an outpatient, beginning with chemotherapy. He vowed to his viewers that he would fight this hideous disease.

Watching this newscast at home I thought about Ed and what this CT scan would mean.
We knew what the worst possible scenario would be but just couldn’t mention the words “lung cancer.” Ironically Ed had also seen this newscast and knew that this could possibly be his fate also.

It was.

Ed was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away eight months later after
a hideous bout with chemotherapy treatments.

I met Ed at Yale. He was the “Mac Guy” but so much more than that.
He was a wizard when it came to computers. Ed and I became fast friends. He was tough, crabby and had great expectations of everyone’s work performance. But, he made sure we had the tools and resources with which to work with.

Ed was a 6ft+ burly guy. In his earlier days at Yale in the Computer Science Department he sported long hair and a pierced ear.

My first meeting with Ed was filled with fear. My then boss, John, sent me on a call to Ed’s office in Computer Science to install a new CD-rom in Ed’s Power Mac 7200 desktop. John’s words echoed from the moment I got the service call until I finished, “Whatever you do, don’t fuck up this call. This guy will have you roasted. He is big time.”

Yes, Ed was big time. He was promoted to Assistant Director of the Yale Computer Center losing the long hair and earring. He became my immediate boss.

After a year or so Ed was offered a Director’s job at the university I currently work at.
A few months later, he asked me to join him and I did.
He was appointed Director of Systems Technology and Planning.

This university changed both are lives for the good. Ed’s talents shone. His foresight regarding technology trends and innovation was incomparable to anyone’s
Ed was loved by everyone and feared by some. His low intolerance of incompetence of individuals in their appointed jobs was legendary. Thankfully only a few were on the receiving end of his wrath.

Ed became my father, brother and mentor. He was tough. He held high expectations of me, but coming from a family where I was invisible, this was a welcome gift.

Ed had no problem telling me what he thought about my life or me.
Hearing about my shortcomings was painful, but every “constructive criticism” conversation was always accompanied by his praise for my talent and abilities that I did possess.

We ate lunch everyday and spoke on the phone every night.
We could talk about anything, TV, work, sports, and sex. No topic was off limits.
Every weekend I would swing by his house and drop off a large coffee coolatta with extra whipped cream.
Ed’s wife often joked that if she didn’t know “I was on the other team,” she’d be worried.

Ed believed in my talent, my humor, and my soul. He showered me with his knowledge of computers; books, computers themselves and any new technological gadget he thought would enhance my art.

Ed passed away last December. I saw him on the night before he was taken to Hospice.
Knowing that I was leaving for France for 2 weeks, Ed asked me when I was leaving.

I told him I would be leaving in 7 days. He looked at me and smiled and just said, “OK.”
I saw Ed the next night in Hospice. He was barely conscious. I sat with him for a while and when I left, kissed him and told him how much I loved him.

Ed passed away later that night.

I know Ed chose to die while I was still in town.
It’s just something I know. No one can tell me any different.


Blogger Prema said...

what a loving memorial. Sounds like Ed was your family. I'm sorry for your loss. Glad for the gift he so obviously gave, and that you returned. Delivered coffee every Saturday is true love in my book.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Carrie Wilson Link said...

I believe that too, Suzster! "Playing for the other team"? We'll talk...

9:22 PM  
Blogger Go Mama said...

"Ed believed in my talent, my humor, and my soul...."

As do I.

He seemed to affirm to you, you are valuable, your work is worthwhile, do what it is you are here to do. Sounds like Ed's life was both a blessing and a wake-up call for you. We never know how much time we have here. Hopefully, we make the most of it.

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great, touching story, Suzy. I'm quite sure you're right about Ed's choosing the moment of his passing.

True friends are the very best. Ed isn't gone, you know, as long as he lives in your heart.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Jerri said...

Seems to me that Ed's final gift to you was making sure you were'not torn about leaving for France. What a wonderful, thoughtful man. You've written a fine tribute to him.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

beautiful tribute - you took me from looking at a lonely man in a hospital emergency room to seeing a lovely person who cared and loved - there is no more important thing he could have done in his life.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Michelle O'Neil said...

A beautiful tribute to your real "brother" Suzy. I'm so sorry for your loss.

P.S. I didn't know you played for the other team? You go girl!

2:46 PM  
Blogger Terry Whitaker said...

Thank you, Suz. This was totally worth the wait. I always like the term "my chosen family" for people like Ed.

5:46 PM  
Blogger s@bd said...

Have just now read all of your posts.

Am carrying you in my heart, now. Thank you.

(Not sure why I'm writing without subjects ...?)

10:21 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

So beautiful Suzy.

3:37 PM  
Blogger serenity said...

What a beautiful tribute to a kindred Spirit, a friend sent to you by heaven knowing how desperately you needed that after all the pain you had walked through in your life. To be given the gift of a being like this is priceless. I offer my gratitude to you for bringing us into these memories of your dearest friend, mentor, father, and loved one. His life has been served well by the legacy that lives on in you. You are a living tribute to him.

Thank you for sharing this remarkable story, and again, wonderful storytelling rich in emotion, detail, and Spirit.

Joyful blessings of peace to you.

3:51 PM  

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