Sometimes it is too late

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Today, my old housemate messaged me. She recently moved to England with her husband and son and it seems she is finally settled. Her husband is in the army, and he was being sent overseas, but now he has a job at home and she has her family complete and whole. With that in mind, she’s decided she wants to pick up where she left off.

We did the same undergraduate degree in Sound Technology. I decided I wanted to pursue radio when I graduated, but as I graduated, she gave birth to her son. An amazing, beautiful boy, but it meant she had two options: drop out, or retake 3rd year. So she re-took her 3rd year.

Our favourite module was acoustics. It was only taught in our 3rd year, but we both instantly loved our lecturer. He was kooky, told the worst jokes and he made acoustics interesting and fun, even when it was our only 9am lecture (us techies didn’t usually start til the afternoon). He was brilliant and a true inspiration. In fact, he was such an inspiration to my old housemate that she decided on completing her 3rd year a second time that she really wanted to pursue a masters in acoustics when she had the chance.

Well, now she has the chance. So she wanted to get in touch with our old lecturer, Dr Max Graham. Now, I used to be a bit of a pro at finding people, but she put me to shame. If she couldn’t find Max, I don’t know why she was messaging me. But she did. She told me the only Dr Max Graham she could find was in an obituary, and that scared her. She sent me the obituary, but I refused to believe it was him. He was only in his 50s. No way was that him. But it listed the children he’d left behind, and we both recognised names in that list from when he talked to us about his kids.

I suggested that this was silly, and soon, when we found Max, we’d all be laughing that for a split second we thought he was dead. Then it struck me… I am friends on Facebook with one of our old lecturers. He must know how to get in touch with Max if he’d left the university, or where we could at least start looking. So I dropped him a line. The message I got back was within 10 minutes, and it really knocked me for 10. “I’m sorry to say Max died earlier this year.”

That obituary was his. He left his wife, three children and his mother behind. He had been the biggest inspiration to me on my course, he taught me the value of learning, he taught me everything I know about acoustics (and I know a fair bit, it was my strongest module), he taught me that being intelligent doesn’t mean not having a personality or a life, he kept me on the course (I was ready to throw the towel in at the end of my second year).

He inspired me. And I never told him that. And now I never can. He was a great teacher, a great lecturer and a great man.

I don’t share my feelings about people, I’m quite stereotypically British about it all, but this has been somewhat of a wake up call. Next time I see the people who inspire me the most, I will tell them just how much I cherish their input and influence in my life. It will be incredibly awkward, but at least when I read their obituaries I won’t feel like I missed my opportunity. At least I know when they read my obituary, they know that they made a difference in my life, they changed me for the better.

Rest in peace Dr Max Graham. You were an incredible man.

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