Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Very Special Visit

The two Ians...

We've been up in Edinburgh for the last few days. The son of some very good friends of ours got married today (Sat.), and I got to assist in the service. I'll have some pictures of the big event soon.

We went up on Thursday so we could visit with some other old friends, and spent a lovely few hours with Ian and Jean McCallum. This saintly couple was so good to me when I worked at St Giles Cathedral and lived across the street from them. They've visited us in California and hosted us in Scotland more times than I can remember.

Both have OBE honors from Queen Elizabeth herself. Jean worked in social services in Northern England for years, primarily placing babies with adoptive families who wanted children. They raised four kids of their own, and adopted one of Jean's charges, too.

Ian was a professor of medicine at Newcastle University, in the middle of England's coal industry, and wrote some of seminal literature on black lung. As the energy industry shifted to the search for offshore oil, Ian started researching the impact of the bends on divers in the North Sea. He was honored for his work in occupational health. In retirement, over the last 20 years or so, Ian has published several books and journal articles at an astounding rate of one per year. He's written a catalogue of Scottish silver hallmarking, a history of medical uses of antimony, and is one of the few people in the world who has handled and read every existing scroll related to alchemy. Lately he's been slowed by Parkinson's Disease, though he proudly showed me an article he just published in a collection of essays on alchemy.

I say all this because these two, no matter how much they have achieved, have always been so hospitable to us. I have pictures of Ian with my Ian over the last 8 years, including the one from this weekend. There are friendships that I cherish in this life, and this past weekend gave me a chance to enjoy several of them (the Grieves will get a tribute soon...). Ian and Jean continue to teach me so much about welcoming guests, about being parents and grandparents and spouses, and about how to get everything possible out of life.

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