March 1, 2017
Ernst Rodin 1925-2017 In Memoriam
Dad’s Memorial – Krista Rodin
It seems that everyone has their own memories and experiences of another person, no matter how close they are to each other and the person with whom the interaction takes place. Our experiences of each other are uniquely our own. Peter, Eric and I grew up in the same household, but while we have some common memories, most of them are deeply individualized. In contrast to the boys, my relationship with our father was fraught with problems for the first almost 30 years of my life. We basically couldn’t stand one another. This may well be because, as my mother said, we were so similar in some significant ways. While we did not share sailing as my brothers did, and skiing with him was a frightening experience as one or the other of us was always in the other’s icy thread on the t-bars which threw us both off, we did share a fascination and love for history, cultures, philosophy, opera and, of course, Austria. Both of us immersed ourselves in Buddhist as well as Hindu and Christian sacred texts. One of the key statements in the Buddhist doctrine that directly applied to our relationship was that “Your enemy is your greatest teacher.” This realization, that we were supposed to learn to see through the other’s eyes, forced us both to reevaluate our reactions to each other as well as reflect on why we did the things we did and why we believe what we do. In later years, I came to realize that his penchant for lecturing, which he dearly loved to do, was his way to stimulate reflection and that he was in fact a modern day guru. Gurus may be charming to the general public, but are often not perfect or even nice people to their students; instead their job is to push their students to confront a reality they may not want to acknowledge. They often cut their students to the quick in order to force them to reevaluate what they take to be reality. Any of us in the family who was at any time called into the den on Balfour Rd, or here at 3 Mountainwood, know of the wrenching humiliation that was left after those ‘discussions.’ I want you to know now, that he did mean well and that his intentions were always the best, he just wanted us to cut through a materially based world to an inner strength that he knew we all have. He firmly believed that we are spiritual beings stuck in physical bodies, and that the body and our senses inhibit our ability to find “The Truth.” His quest for understanding was a livelong pursuit. One of his favorite poems was from Walter von der Vogelweide, a medieval German poet, that badly translated goes something like: ““I sat upon a rock and covered one leg with the other, upon it I placed my elbow, I had my cheek and chin in one hand, then I thought with great concern about how one should live in this world, and I could not figure out how to achieve three aspects without doing violence to one of them. Two are honor and wealth, which are practically mutually exclusive, the third is the grace of God which surely surpasses the other two. “ He was constantly torn between doing his duty, by which he felt he (& all of us) would ultimately be judged and the hope for God’s grace. He struggled to reconcile Michael’s sword with Mary’s mercy, coupled with the Buddha’s first principle that all life is based on a state of unsatisfactoriness and that to overcome that state one needs “Right Thought, Right Speech and Right Action.” This quest to understand “Right Living” led the scientist to study near death experiences, and various religions’ concepts of what happens in the dying process and after the body has died. He could quote from both the Egyptian and Tibetan Books of the Dead, as well as recite the Catholic Requiem Mass. When our mother passed, he was in awe of her grace and fortitude, repeatedly saying that she showed us how passing from one state to another should happen. Since she died, he intensified his studies. He put his affairs in order, had finished his current affairs blog on his “ThinkTruth” website with the inauguration, had finished and submitted his last scientific paper on Saturday, had read the Sunday paper and neatly folded it on the counter and put away all the dishes. The conference he was supposed to attend on the Wednesday after he passed, would have taken him on a new tact, one that he was not sure he would be able to conclude. He had had a wonderful time with Amber and baby Weston the night before when he joked with them and was in a good mood. I had had to go to Flagstaff for meetings and was in contact via email. The last message was joking that he seemed to want to enter the 4th stage of Hindu life, into the Forest, although the Forest was the House. He said “Yep”. He was done. He was lonely. He wanted his Martha, and felt she was calling him and he followed his Beatrice, who was love and grace personified, to the unknowable world beyond with the strength of Will that had characterized his entire professional career and personal history. He was an amazing and complicated man. I’m very glad to have had this past year and a half with him when we both found a bit of peace and joy with each other and deeply honored to have had him as my father and my teacher.
We now have a memorial video to share with you, starting with his time growing up with his older brother, Erwin, in Vienna, from whom the flowers on the tables have been sent. The Viennese family send their greetings to everyone here as well.