August 31, 2006
My father in law was an inspiring guy to know. Most people are alive in the regular sense; he was alive in the sense that he squeezed every drop out of life. He was a professor and, though retired for a number of years, he felt an absolute bond with all students. Still at the age of 82, while hooked to portable oxygen, he continued to teach as a professor emeritus of physics at the University of Louisville. He continued teaching until just a couple of days before he died.
That was a little more than a year ago. Soon after that, my wife and I visited his small office at the school. His office expressed his varied eccentricities. No space was unfilled: piles of paper and stacks of books were shoved in every corner. There were strange silver bulbs, glass tubes, wires strewn across the room.
This DNA strand is one of the few things we took. I'd seen it once or twice before but my wife remembered it from time out of mind. As far as we know, her Dad threw it together from an odd assortment of junk – golf balls, garden hose, wire, brackets and whatever else he managed to scrounge up – and from all this he created his own DIY DNA: an inexpensive prop for his lectures.
It's strange (but not surprising) how this aged piece of what might be considered junk has taken on a sculptural quality here in our house. It seems to represent him so perfectly. We can't help but see this aged, colorful, quirky DNA strand and see him.
© Rbyn Miller, Some rights reserved.