A special welcome to anyone who is new to The Grieving Room. We meet every Monday evening. Whether your loss is recent or many years ago, whether you have lost a person or a pet, or even if the person you are "mourning" is still alive ("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time) you can come to this diary and process your grieving in whatever way works for you. Share whatever you need to share. We can't solve each other's problems, but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.It has been just over six months since my mom died. I had planned to write about her tonight. I have finally finished all the administrivia that accompany dying in this country--death certificates, probate, closing accounts, and paying bills. I can look back and remember the wonderful woman that my mom was, and not just the person she had become at the end of a long and devastating illness. However, last week I learned that my PhD adviser, Dr. Bernard Wailes, has passed away on March 30th. As Kaili Joy Gray said last week, "That's sort of like losing two parents, your mom and your adviser, isn't it?" Please follow me below the fold.
I met Bernard 40 years ago this month. As an undergraduate, I had been an art history major, but I had the equivalent of a minor in anthropology. I had excavated in Winchester, England at the Brook Street site when I was a college junior, and I was looking for a PhD program that offered medieval archaeology within a broad four-field anthropology program. The University of Pennsylvania was my first choice. After I was admitted, I thought that I ought to meet my prospective adviser before I signed on the dotted line. My college roommate's boyfriend had access to a car, and we drove down to Philadelphia for the day.
Bernard was charming, genial, and very, very British. He offered me a chance to excavate in Ireland that summer. Since my plans to dig in the Middle East had fallen through about two weeks earlier, I said yes immediately. The rest, as they say, is history.
I spent the summer excavating at the site of Dún Ailinne, an Iron Age royal site that is traditionally associated with the kings of Leinster. I also had the opportunity to get to know Bernard in way that is simply not possible in the classroom. Bernard was one of the really good people. Not only did his students love him, but all the Irish loved him as well. Here is a link to his obituary in A Kilcullen Diary. I particularly like this paragraph:
Your editor remembers him fondly during the several summers of excavations, as he was a good friend of my father and there were some very enjoyable occasions involving him and his crew of local helpers in The Hideout.The Hideout was a local dive bar in Kilcullen. The best drink I ever had was in that bar. I had been working out in the rain at the site, and I was soaked to the skin and shaking. Bernard and his partner Kathleen bought me a hot buttered rum.
Forty years later, I am still working at Dún Ailinne. I am part of an American and Irish crew that did magnetometer and topographic survey at the site from 2006 through 2008. Blue jersey dad, another colleague, and I will be presenting a paper on our work at the Rathcrogan conference in Ireland this weekend. The paper is dedicated to Bernard's memory.
Bernard was my mentor and my friend, but he also had an important impact on North American anthropological archaeology. He trained an entire generation of American archaeologists who are now working in Europe. He was a student of Professor Graham Clark, the original excavator of the famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr. Bernard received his BA, MA, and PhD from Cambridge University. He came to the US in the early 1960s as part of the "brain drain." He was a vocal advocate for the importance of European archaeology in archaeology and anthropology. His students are now working at colleges and universities across the nation including Arizona State University, George Washington University, Princeton University, Hartwick College, Eastern Illinois University, and NYU.
Even though Bernard is gone, his legacy will live on. My students recognize the influence he had on me and my work. I wish that I had had just one more lunch with him before me passed. Rest in peace, Bernard. I can't thank you enough.