Today in My History
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I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS
November 7, 2019
Throughout my life it has been a disappointment that I don't dream. Or rarely dream. I would love to check one of those books to find out what my dreams mean, but I either don't dream at all, or if I do, I never remember what I dreamed.
So it was very strange that I dreamed about Fred this weekend. I wrote about him a year or so ago. Fred was my boss at the Physics Department at UC Berkeley.
I was hired as secretary for the bookkeeping department and for 3 different professors. Other clerical people welcoming me to the department warned me about Fred. He was "mean" they told me. But he and I hit it off. He was gruff and exacting, but we got along very well and he quickly became my favorite of the three men I worked for.
When they built a new building for the Physics Department, I moved over to that, with my own office, in the hall with all three professors. But then one retired and another moved most of his activities up to "the hill," the radiology lab, and he rarely ever needed my help.
So, by default, I became Fred's private secretary. During this time he wrote his textbook "Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics." I typed it. Three times. On an electric typewriter with interchangeable keys for the equations. The book, published in 1965, remains a standard physics text today. It has been translated into many different languages and he showed me the Japanese text where the acknowledgement page was all in Japanese, except for my name!
I left the Physics Department in 1966 when Jeri was about to be born but Fred and I remained friends all these years. We occasionally got together for lunch and when he moved to Pittsburgh to join the faculty of Carnegie Melon, we exchanged email messages, on his birthday and on Christmas (his birthday is 2 days before Jeri's and I was always sorry that she hadn't been born on his birthday).
When I went to DC to work for six weeks for UC Davis when my friend Melodoy was on maternity leave, I took a weekend and flew to Pittsburgh and spent a weekend with Fred and his wife. I haven't seen him since.
About 3 years ago, I didn't hear from him at Christmas, which was very weird. I was afraid that he had died and spent time checking obituaries and even contacted the head of the Physics Department at Carnegie Melon, but no, he was fine. And then one of my e-mails was returned for a bad address. Again, I checked obituaries, sure he must have died (he was 15 years older than I). But no.
I wrote the journal entry about him, saying "where is Fred Reif?" and to a reply supposedly from him, saying he was in Massachussetts and giving me his phone number, but when I called the number, nobody knew him and I assumed someone had played a cruel trick on me.
But Saturday I had this dream. It was a long dream, very clear and it was a dream of the two of us as we used to be when I worked for him, just sitting in his office and chit chatting. I woke up feeling like we had really had a visit.
One the ride home from Santa Barbara, I checked Google and found several obituaries for him. He died the month before. I like to think that somehow he had come to say goodbye.
Also while I was in Santa Barbara, I heard from Sandy that my mother had a rash (this was the 3rd day; the first day it was pretty minor, but itchy--now it's drying up). I told him I would contact the doctor when we got home.
So we went to the doctor yesterday. It is so sad to take her to the doctor. She really has lost "words" now. She can't relate to anything you say to her. If you say anything to her she just stares off into space, and when she talks it doesn't really make sense (she asked "aren't those clouds beautiful" as she poined to the cloudless sky. I think she meant the leaves on the trees). When the nurse asked who I was, she said I was her sister--which, I guess, is better than her husband, which I was last time!
She can never understand how to get into or out of the car. She didn't want to get out of the car at the hospital because she couldn't take my picture unless she had all the equipment. But the doctor feels the rash is clearing up, gave me some medication to put on it, and dismissed her...which is nice that we don't have to go back.
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