Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hugh Meriwether's father, a tribute

Henry Tutwiler Meriwether

imagine a life always
of purpose,
of planning,
of questing to know,
of finding a pattern that is right,
and holding to it,
of being so conservative that it is radical,
back to the roots and staying true to them:
a marriage,
a partnership for the ages
both in how long it lasted,
and in how fully it fit those two in love
and all they touched,
best friends and partners for 62 years,
in the same house for over 50 years,
sharing the house with children and parent
because family should extend and hold against dissolution,

life should be lived true to the scientist within
who needs to know the questions
and who needs to find the answers,

Henry grew up on a Tennessee farm,
grounded in its immediacy,
with a father grounded in foundational Greek and Latin,
with a mother so well-read that she could effectively home school
before such a path was common,

Henry found his way to Knoxville and the University of Tennessee,
and to chemistry, that science which explains 
the connections of reality as substance meets substance,
chemistry drawing him to graduate school,
and to a lifelong career with Merck and pharmaceuticals,
to the pursuit of results in the lab
and to the result of finding Dorothy, and she him,
like Pierre Curie finding Marie
and arguing the case that, like sodium and chlorine,
they would fit together and make a stable whole,
Henry and Dorothy, the salt of the earth,
who never lost their savor,

Henry loved to travel, for how better to learn?
a wondrous ten day trip rafting down the Colorado with his son Hugh,
decades at Sanibel Island in Florida in the winter,
one of the ten best shelling beaches in the world,
ready for whatever wonders would reveal themselves at low tide,
a naturalist to the core, a birder all over the world,
a curiosity, a need to know, that drove him,
as did a fastidiousness as to how things should be,
the way drinking glasses should be stored, toothbrushes cleaned,
breakfasts made ready, even the night before,
an anxiousness to make sure to get it right suffusing him,
the “Meriwether Worry,”

how wonderful that he could take that which drove him
and ride that energy into creating a life:
pure, full of love and connection,
of being true to his partner,
and true to his releasing a wonderful life upon the world.

by Henry H. Walker
June 10, ‘16

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