No books were required, yet many topics were covered, including love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness, and, finally, death. The last lecture was brief, only a few words.
A funeral was held in lieu of graduation.
Although no final exam was given, ow were expected to produce one long paper on what was learned. That paper is presented here.
The last class of y professor’s life had only one student.
I was the student.
In the locker room, the other swimmers pretended not to stare. They stared anyhow. That was the end of his privacy.
He had refused fancy clothes or makeup for this interview. His philosophy was that death should not be embarrassing; he was not about to powder its nose.
“Coach,” he says. “All right, I’ll be your coach. And you can be my player. You can play all the lovely parts of life that I ‘m too old for now.”
“Here’s the thing,” he said. “People see me as a bridge. I’m not as alive as I used to be, but I’m not yet dead. I’m sort of…in-between.
“Have you found someone to share your heart with?” he asked.
“Are you giving to your community?”
“Are you at peace with yourself?”
“Are you trying to be as human as you can be?”
“A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.”
Sounds like a wrestling match, I say.
“A wrestling match.” He laughs. “Yes, you could describe life that way.”
So which side wins, I ask?
“Which side wins?”
He smiles at me, the crinkled eyes, the crooked teeth.
“Love wins. Love always wins.”