A goodbye party adds a gem to our memory book from work

By:   LPJ

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)

Yesterday afternoon, Sunday, was a surprise.  A window of opportunity squeezed in between days of horrendous wind and rain in our part of California. The sky opened up smiling for part of the day, perfect for our party.  An interesting sidelight from previous days’ weather, our host showed on his front yard a large tree stump from which professional tree cutters had just taken off parts of a large oak the day before. The oak tree had fallen on top of the front corner of the house and poked a hole on the roof. When we arrived, the host was pointing to the tarp secured by bricks and sandbags over the tiled roof and down on the side of the wall.  From pictures he showed, it was amazing that the fallen tree had not caused more damage.

The fallen oak was a great concern for the hosting family for sure, but more amazing still was how Prof. Harry and his wife Diane found the time and energy to be gracious hosts for an enjoyable gathering of charming and vibrant company pepped with fun conversation and interesting stories bearing hints of nostalgia.  And of course, the food was delicious!  Every time Diane was barraged with oohs and aahs over how sumptuous the food was, she gave credit to Gilda’s catering. Gilda’s catering produced the tastiest grilled vegetable mix I had ever eaten. I went back for seconds, and could have gone for thirds if I hadn’t thought of leaving space for the luscious sweets afterwards. The first item on the buffet table was itself an enticing work of art – a large bowl containing a heaping colorful and robust mix of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Mildly flavored fluffy rice preceded the main faire. The steak slices were tender and juicy, and so delicious were the pieces of chicken breast laced with thin creamy sauce perked with a delicate blend of spices. The sticky pudding clinched the gourmet experience, along with the rich chocolate squares.

It was a goodbye party sentimental in a way, but definitely fun and entertaining.

Thank you Dr. Harry and Atty. Diane (Sophie, too) for a goodbye that turned out warm and enjoyable – a star in our memory book from work.

Linda P. Jacob