Remembering an old and dear friend

Light bulbs in a line, with the one at the right end lifted, ready to be dropped. Test: Oldies but goodies, Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt


As I was going through old posts you may not have seen, I came across something with current applications, as well as remembering that day in Princeton when we put our friend (mine from our CFS support group and the Princeton Folk Music Society) Dr. Paul Whiter’s ashes into the memorial garden at the Episcopal church:

I was reminded of the fourth vow some Christian monks take in addition to their other vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the vow of stability, of staying in one place for the remainder of their lives. Thomas Merton wrote that it meant giving up the hope of finding somewhere else more perfect, and settling in, for life, to the ordinariness of the chosen place.

As fascinating, intelligent man, he would have enjoyed the community we have joined.

He touched many lives, with a gentle spirit.

From April, 2013, when we had just lost him: Words are my memories.

Photo of Dr. Paul Whiter


4 thoughts on “Remembering an old and dear friend

  1. Circe

    Dear Liebja, We met at Paul’s funeral. I have the fondest memories of Paul. Admittedly, my memory is also not as reliable as it was—must be the 2014 PhD!—but I believe we invited Paul to tea with an English friend’s parents. (Her parents are also gone too soon. I digress, but Susan Baker would be 82 on April 13, and was lost to breast cancer at 69. She was most kind, loving, and fun. Maybe that’s my April 13 post.)
    We sat near Paul in church when our boys were small and medium. They were disruptive and not especially well-behaved, but they were welcome. Any glance Paul cast our way was kind and warm. So I forwarded this post to the boys. Our younger son (recently 24) replied via text: “I do remember paul whiter. He was nice. His face is very memorable.”
    Paul was certainly a handsome man, but memorable is exactly right.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I remember you well, but your blog hasn’t been updated in a very long time, and I have no way of reaching you.

      The reason I wrote the two posts about Paul, one before the formal memorial where you and I me, and one after that, was that I knew he had a complicated family history, and three daughters – and I didn’t want that knowledge intruding in my own, more limited, memories of him in the CFS group and at the PFMS sings and concerts.

      As it turned out, I didn’t learn anything much about his family, so it was a moot point, but I still miss him. He WAS nice, and MEMORABLE. I’m glad I got to read my own words!

      Don’t be a stranger. I’ve moved to Davis, CA, but Princeton and our friends and home in Hamilton are still very much with me.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I was glad to read the post again, and go back to that little memorial garden and that day and the people I met who had known Paul from other contexts in Princeton. I wish I had a transcript of the words the pastor said, but you don’t get those things. I wanted to know what happened to his cats.

      I was able to visit him in the hospital, never knowing he wouldn’t make it out, as he seemed better, but so frail.

      I remember sending a copy of that post to all of the people who were too sick to come to the service, and being glad I could get a photo to go with it. Our support group had been together for so many years, but it wasn’t enough to learn more than a fraction about each other, because of the time it took – and the energy – to do the supportive things we could for each other.

      At the first meeting I attended of that group (their third overall), I found that we had Paul (PhD Organic Chemistry), Lon (PhD in Engineering), Dorothy (hospital administrator), Gwyneth (a black woman with a PhD in Statistics), and me. I remember that meeting when people doubt CFS is a real illness, and mourn the destroyed brain power, and what we could have done if we’d gotten well.

      Liked by 2 people


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