When I finally got my belated, mid-life Ph.D. in 1991 one of the thoughts that flashed across my mind was that I’d probably drop dead the next day. That is, so I wouldn’t get to enjoy any of the small privileges and benefits of my new degree and all the work I’d put in to get it. It was a silly and paranoid thought of course. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. But such are one’s fleeting thoughts after a great enterprise has come to a close — and some sort of meaningful rewards await around the corner.
Earlier this month, on Tuesday, May 12th, an Amtrak commuter train veered off the rails at a curve. One of the seven who perished in the crash was Derrick Griffith, who was scheduled to receive his own mid-life, hard-won Ph.D. at month’s end. In short, my momentary fear, felt so long ago, actually befell this innocent man. It is just too sad. News reports (e.g., here) say he was a good guy. I hope and trust his degree will nevertheless still be awarded to him, now posthumously. I also hope someone will take the ball and seek out a publisher for his dissertation.
For what it’s worth, Derrick, you have my warmest congratulations for your achievement! And my heartfelt sympathy regarding this tragic outcome — and its unhappy timing. I don’t know you, of course, but your loss, at this moment of your life, moves me.