page 1

page 1

page 1

page 1

Farewell . Michael Weber

Dear class of 2006,


I'd like to leave you with a short story.


Once I had a VW bus, Beulah. She was a mutt, part '72, part '74. I had Beulah for 10 years, from the time I was 23. She was a constant work in progress. I rebuilt the top half of her engine the first time out of a manual, the original Idiot's Guide to rebuilding your VW. GREAT text, fantastic illustrations, wonderful bits of philosophy woven throughout. Anyway, I was ALWAYS working on that car, trying to keep her running. I sweated out many an afternoon on the side of the road mashed within what couldn't have been more than 14 inches of clear space between the pavement and the burning hot fins of her pancake engine. I traveled cross-country with her several times, planted trees with her through two winters, and spent many months living out of her. I'd be driving down the highway; she'd break down. The first thing I'd do was to make myself something to eat. Sometimes I'd follow that with a nap. Then I'd tackle the mechanical problem at hand. That car is an indelible part of who I am ...she was such a pain in the kiester. I grew very attached to Beulah. I like to think that instead of working on her, we were working on each other. There came a time while in architecture school that I plainly had no time or money left to deal with her anymore. She needed major work. I had been in Italy for a year and returned home enriched, but dead broke. The day I drove her to the car recycler, what did she do? She stalled out as I was turning left across traffic traveling at high speed. It's true. I kicked in the clutch, glided through the intersection, pulled over, checked my pants and shook my head. She almost took me with her. I've driven low maintenance Japanese cars ever since, the type that go forever, but remain nameless.


The vast majority of the harder stuff I worked with through the course of med school concerned my former wife. The problems were huge and painful. Ironically, in spite of the pain, or more likely because of it, they forged an intimacy that continues to feed us both despite new living arrangements. As with Beulah, the struggle reinforced life and nurtured growth. As many of us, myself once again included, prepare to cast off toward lands and experiences largely unknown, take heart in the fact that you've received a solid education here. When things get tough, remember to take a few deep breaths, get a bite to eat, steal a nap if possible, and hold to the truth that struggle can enrich life. It's been a privilege to be one among you.


Happy trails,

Mike Weber

Cover: Beulah

 

page 1

home . contents . index . staff

© 2006 The Rector and Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia