While the year with Gordon was well lubricated, it was filled with scientific exploration at its best. We discovered fundamental heart processes and published a number of important papers. The experience with Gordon laid the scientific foundation for the rest of my professional career.
Several years later, I had a chance to repay his many kindnesses. The American College of Cardiology invited me to introduce him to receive an Honorary Fellowship. In a heartfelt tribute, I planned to tell the packed audience about this generous, loving man who, in addition to his scientific genius, cultivated roses, built furniture, enjoyed practical jokes, and befriended every person in the lab. And, yes, enjoyed his liquor.
I sat on the dais next to Gordon waiting for his turn to receive the award. My heart began to pound when I heard the precise litanies of the other presenters that detailed their awardees accomplishments: the number of publications each had written, honors, lectures given, and so forth. I had penned nothing of the kind but planned this passionate recounting of Gordon’s human side, how many trainees he touched around the world, all of whom loved this giant and took him to their home and to dinner whenever he visited their country.
Distressed, I reached through my robe and extracted my presentation, took out a pen, and desperately tried to remember facts about Gordon’s academic career. I glanced into the audience where Joan sat in the front row. Our eyes locked and she shook her head no, just a tiny twitch no one else saw. Across the open space, husband and wife communicated telepathically. I returned the pen to my pocket, gave my original presentation, and Gordon was thrilled with it. I was able to tell the world what all his trainees knew and thank him publicly for being my scientific godfather.