Two words: DR LAURA!!!!
At least half of our readership has already celebrated the big news with us, so we've been slow to blog about it. For you folks in northeast Kansas, New York, Dayton, and elsewhere, in case you haven't heard already, Laura passed her Final Oral Exam with flying colors on Friday afternoon. The picture above, which my mom took at Chez Zee that evening, after friends and admirers presented "Dr. Laura" with a lovely and delicious lemon cake, says it all. Everybody who attended the defense remarked on how engaged and interested Laura's committee members were, how constructive their suggestions were, and how well they seemed to get along. Laura had a hard time forming a committee early on--many faculty members she took classes with and hoped to work with left the University. It was a relief, then, to have everything go so smoothly at the final hour. After she writes the acknowledgements, cleans up some typos, and gets the signature page back from a committee member in California, she should be able to submit. Laura's committee members are to be thanked and commended for their enthusiasm, professionalism, and support.
Both sets of parents--Haneys and Padillas came to Austin for the defense and stayed for a beautiful bridal shower that included Austin T-shirts along with the more traditional lingerie items. At right is the shirt of the deceptively simple Daniel Jonhston mural that we have all come to know so well over the years. I think I've said this before, but Laura and I are lucky to have such a great group of friends here in Austin, and we'll miss you all.
Today, after we guided my parents to the airport and flopped down on the couch, exhausted from a long, eventful family weekend, we got a call from the office of Dr. Abikhaled, the surgeon who removed Laura's tumor three years ago. She had a routine appointment with him on Wednesday, but his secretary informed us that he is now trapped in Lebanon with his entire family. We can only hope they're not in the middle of the kind of devastation shown in the newspaper Al-Safir today (via Juan Cole). During Laura's cancer year, we had dealings with a number of doctors. Some acted like used car salesmen. Others like nervous, demanding divas. Dr. Abikhaled was always calm, forthright, and compassionate, explaining clearly what was going on and what decisions had to be made and showing genuine respect for his patient and for the rest of us. We are eternally grateful to him, and we desperately hope that he and his family are able to return safely. Seeing the pictures and reading the headlines, I think of all of our friends and all the noble things people we know are doing, and all the effort we put into building things and solving problems. And then I think about how easy it is for criminals like Nasrallah and Ohlmert (to name only two) to sow destruction and chaos in the world. It's hard to know where to go from there.