“It just doesn’t matter now.”
That was the response of a friend who, in his life, worked to combine professional engineering with romanticism, theater, literature, even spirituality.
Now, that magnificent opportunity for discourse on philosophy, economics, theatre drama, politics – even petty political ideologies – has vanished. Earlier, George H. Flowers, III’s life sought constant self-discovery. HIs story represented a remarkable reach – to accomplish a positive – frequently in the direction of his fellow man. Yet, make no mistake, he was not a person of naïve idealism, nor was he ever an “easy sell”….he was completely anesthetized of political correctness.
Richard Rumble, from Richmond Hill (an ecumenical Christian Fellowship Center), got him best: George was a true mensch – a person of integrity and honor.
His was the story of a life-long Richmonder – a sensitive septuagenarian, studious, exploratory, follower of Christian ideals – determined to nurture the needs of others as teacher. Constantly, claiming and mocking his deficiencies – unconvincingly, I might add – he began to allow whom he’d become by sharing his impending disastrous personal medical prognosis.
As I remember it, his evidence began to surface in July, 2015….a swallowing difficulty. It was then he disclosed his frightening symptoms with all of us….in our Men’s group at St. Stephens Episcopal Church. After visiting extensively with his alma mater, Duke University Hospital – then the Medical College of Virginia, division of VCU, the verdict was in – cancer surgery as a last resort. He notes:
…the surgery sounds a little rough, but doable, and I know many people have been through this operation before me. And really, it’s a piece of cake compared to what some of our wounded veterans have to go through…so let’s just get on with it….Dr. Shaw said my tumor was “high risk”….read in that what you will….they just don’t know since everyone responds differently…(10-15-15).
In 1994, Reynolds Community College CAMPUS HAPPENINGS, it’s in-house periodical, heralded his new position there: A Quiet Hero as he works his life’s plan; he began his second career as an educator at the College as a Division Chair; later as the Reynolds Parham Road Campus Director.
Clearly, most of his Reynolds service was spent teaching students in math and engineering – classroom and labs. A breadth of guidance brought him in profound contact with younger students – after solid corporate years as an engineering manager at Virginia Power. I think his affinity to teach originated from his inner nurturing to address human needs.
We may recall that in ancient times a covenant, or solemn pact, required a sacrifice to bring full consecration. For our Men’s group, George’s teaching was just that – a new covenant among all of us – his true sacrifice distributed by him for our individual benefit – not unlike like Eucharist. Flowers’ dividend to us was enlightenment: how to live with a looming cancerous physical decline… eventual death. Displaying his weekly acceptance in the art of dying became the most supportive, challenging, unorthodox, graduate-life course ever presented to our group, or us individually.
…well here we are…back almost at the beginning…there is no cure; they will just treat it with chemotherapy for the rest of the way and see how I do. We meet with Dr. Myers on Thursday, and she will set out the treatment plan. I imagine it will be rougher on me than the one last fall was, but that’s OK (05-21-16)….
George had been scheduled to reflect at the Celtic Evensong and Communion Service, at St. Stephens Church, April 2, 2017….but he experienced hours of challenging sickness. He disclosed and discussed it with our group, and the parish invited him to instead schedule the appearance for March 12, 2017, 5:30 pm.
…in late January I had a premonition that this would all be over by August. Then after the hospitalization I changed to try to make it to April 2nd. Now, I guess my goal is to get to Sunday night and give the talk and see all those people…if I can just get to Sunday night (02/27/17)….
Mission accomplished; George shared with me that it took him three full days to recoup his strength from Sunday night’s reflection.
….If last evening taught us anything, it was that reinforcing relationship – with friends and relatives and with our God – so key to our lives. Please go out and do God’s work, and be a cup of strength to suffering souls (03/13/17)…
Rev. Bruce Birdsey recently explained to a Holy Comforter Episcopal Church group: Faith is the act of the whole person….there is no contest between faith vs. belief. I think Birdsey must have had a George Flowers in mind.