Last Friday, May 14, I meant to have lunch with my dear friends Dun Gifford, Sara Baer-Sinnott, and Casey Sinnott. I worked for Dun and Sara for several years as the program manager at Oldways Preservation Trust, an international, nonprofit food and nutrition education consortium. Casey is Sara’s daughter, whom I’ve watched grow from a cheeky 6-year-old to a graceful and kind college graduate.
We had a lot of adventures together. We held international public health conferences all over the world; my favorite trips were to Greece, Italy, and Spain. We worked hard, but managed to laugh a lot, even in our Cambridge offices, and, lest I forget, the many trips to El Paso, Texas, for work we did on the diets of Latin America. One day, in El Paso, outside the Hi-Lo car wash (which also doubles as an excellent restaurant serving “border cuisine”), a priest was sitting, comfortably reading the morning newspaper, perched high above a shoe shiner with a nasty case of Tourette’s syndrome. A tragic disorder for certain, but it manifested in this man by way of vulgar and graphic cursing regarding Jesus Christ, Mary, and various cherubs and saints. Not a scene from a Farrelly brothers film, but just another day at the car wash/restaurant in El Paso; nobody else seemed to notice.
I had texted Sara the week prior about the date of our lunch; I couldn’t remember whether it was Monday or Friday. She texted back from France that she and “Meester Geeford” (that’s what I called him, because that’s how our friends from North Africa pronounced his name) were sharing a bowl of moules (mussels) and a bottle of Sancerre and that I was missed. I wish I’d been there; “Meester Geeford” passed away on May 9. Instead of having lunch with him last Friday, I was at his service, making sure that everyone had programs.
I could never do justice explaining just what a force of nature he was and the incredible life he led, but the New York Times did pretty well: www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/us/16gifford.html