Yesterday celebrated a milestone. Dr./Prof. Harry Greenberg, his wife Diane and daughter Sophie hosted a heartwarming and fun get-together at their Palo Alto, CA home, as a goodbye to his research group at Stanford/Palo Alto VA. The Professor, widely distinguished for decades of pioneering work on virology, immunology and vaccines is approaching retirement from an achievement-packed and highly touted career. This has led to the closure of his extremely productive research laboratories after over 40 years in operation. Scores of trainees, postdocs and employees have benefitted from his mentorship and guidance, and themselves have become successful and known professionals in scientific research and medical practice.
From closure evolves a mix of sentiments. The very nature of goodbyes. For some, it is respite from continuous hard work that has led to innovative and ground-breaking results and statistics. For others, it is a pause to re-energize again and pursue a new career or further the same one. For some, it is retirement. At any rate, that closure is really no closure – for working relationships continue on to friendships, or at the very least, prompt the start of convivial connections spiced with occasional meetups. Such were the goodbyes yesterday. They weren’t really goodbyes, but something like – “see you sometime later”.
A young man’s ‘to-go’ from the sumptuous lunch at the goodbye party (Photo by Dr. Takahiro Kawagishi)
I sit here, soon after the strike of midnight, awed at the passing of the old year and the birth of a new one. How time segues is appalling, almost mysterious. How father time opens one door and closes another is a wonderment. Year after year, we live with this mystery. As the Auld Lang Syne song goes, we celebrate memories of the past as we look forward to creating new memories with the new year. New dreams float in, fresh hopes arise, anticipation and excitement surge for what might come. But these, without failing to look back and remember all the good, and even the challenges, that have brought us thus far to now.
Just now, I consumed nearly four hours of video chatting with family members in the Philippines. We regaled each other with cheery updates, catching up on tid-bits big and small about happenings of the past weeks or months. And then, dwelling on hopes for the good that the budding year might bring, almost like a wish list, on a grander scale than the wish list of Christmas. One door closes, another opens.
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