BY JOSHUA KATZ
On the Wednesday before spring break, my dissertation adviser turned 80, an occasion I marked by sending him a card and a couple of recent articles. That Friday, I flew to Oregon to deliver a paper at an annual conference that he and his wife, another great teacher of mine, always attend. But because he’d been ill for some months, this year she went on her own. And we did what we’ve always done, but without him: We gave our talks (mine was on the attempts by linguist Ferdinand de Saussure to uncover anagrams in Vedic poetry), went to our colleagues’ talks, talked about the talks and about our colleagues and enjoyed ourselves over food and wine. Since he seemed to be getting better, our mood was cheerful, and I departed on Monday morning optimistic that the three of us would be getting together again soon.
Two days later, that next Wednesday morning, he died.