Hello, I am Eric, Randy’s youngest brother.
I have to admit, over this past week, to having difficulty writing down what I’ve wanted to say during this time. It’s not so much that I don’t have a lot of memories to share or, and this probably goes without saying, that it would be hard to talk about what an awesome guy Randy was. I know everyone here today was touched in some way by Randy’s healing hands as a doctor, gentleness and humor when it came to conversation or interaction, or his humility in that he rarely trumpeted his own accomplishments.
So, most of my reflections or memories will center on Randy as my brother and friend. The older brother who I always held on a pedestal, who I always admired for his intelligence, patience, and talent. The older brother who I had to learn it was ok not to be, although, quite frankly, the world could use more [ people like Randy ] OR Randys .
So it was hard the last six months of Randy’s life to watch him suffer from an illness which, day-by-day, stripped Randy of the ability to do what he loved most both professionally and personally. I remember coming down from New York over two months ago and being at work with him the day he fell and flown to Johnstown. It was hard to believe the toll the cancer was taking on him, how quickly his symptoms had increased to the point where he just couldn’t do many everyday tasks.
Despite all the difficulties Randy was determined, as long as he could, to go to work. I remember having a conversation with Randy which I think helped explain part of his determination to continue working. Randy after his initial diagnosis and the first of many hospital stays said at one point what he was going through made him more sympathetic toward his patients going through similar experiences with hospitals. He hoped he could take what he learned from being a patient and give back to the world as a more compassionate doctor.
It’s easy to dwell on Randy’s fight with cancer, but it is the memories of Randy as my brother and friend I want to carry forward.
As a brother Randy was everything you could ask for. He was there to talk when I needed it. At the same time though he was often reserved about his thoughts and struggles and because of his natural humility it often took time to tease out Randy’s own dreams and fears.
One of the things which always astounded me about Randy was his ability to synthesize information. He was one of the few people I know who could sit down with pretty much any book on any subject, whether or it be an instruction booklet, a medical text, or a book on the history of mathematics, and be able to explain it in easily understandable terms. He could also do this with multiple points of view, synthesizing different voices and state an obvious common point both sides were missing. I remember once we were having a conversation about health care in the U.S. and he said to me, “the nation as a whole needs to address the philosophical question as to whether or not everyone deserves, as a right, health care.” It was a simple statement but characteristic or Randy’s ability to cut to the heart of a problem.
As his little brother, as far back as I can remember, Randy was helping me out. When I was in elementary school I remember proudly walking into my second grade classroom with a lego castle which I announced, “I built but my brother, Randy, helped me out a little.” The truth was Randy mainly put it together while I ran around the house playing with lego men. Fast forward 20+ years at Wilson College. I would often be asked to give tours to school groups at the organic farm I was managing, I would often point to the rodent proof cold storage that I said I made whith my brother, Randy, who helped out. The truth is that Randy designed, built and donated the materials while I only helped out sporadically between projects.
Randy was an avid boardgame player. Some of my favorite memories are the Wednesday night gaming sessions he and I, and eventually my wife, Marie, had while he was working in Chambersburg. A sly, competitive side of his came out but I remember Randy’s broad smile whether he won or lost and he’d say, “that was a fun game.” I’ll never forget that his advice to Marie and I as we embarked on our married life together was, “Eric, make sure you make Marie laugh every day and never stop playing games together.”
It’s also no secret that part of our friendship centered around our common love of science fiction and fantasy. The last few weeks of his life he even asked for certain fantasy novels to be read to him. One of those was the lyrical Ursala K Leguin novels of the The Earthsea cycle. For a time while he was in the hospital he could not speak. In order to indicate he wanted read to he would write out the main character’s name, Ged, as his way of asking me to read to him. I know I took comfort, and I think Randy may have as well, from the flowing earthiness of her work as Ged would comment ----- “Living, being in the world, was a much greater and stranger thing than could ever be dreamed.” ----- OR “Death and life are the same thing- like the two sides of my hand, the palm and the back. And still they are not the same.” ----- OR “His death did not diminish life. Nor did it diminish him... He is there in the earth and the sunlight.”
So, yes, Randy was an amazing brother and friend and anything I say here in this short time couldn’t do justice to other aspects of his personality which deserve attention. I’ll miss him dearly but, at the end, Randy once wrote out, again when he couldn’t speak, that he could hardly wait to walk again with Keith, our brother who passed away six years ago. I picture them now, having met, and after having taken a long walk, sitting together under a large, cosmic oak tree, a chess set between them, intent on what they are both doing but taking breaks to make wry comments and chuckle over memories of their family and friends. They are sad to know they are missed, but both are healed - fully. So, Randy, until I get to see you and Keith again, know that every day, I see you in the earth and the sunlight.