From My Office Window


January 28, 2014

A dear friend, or more than that, but there is no word in English for it, passed away today. He loved clarity, and put his brilliant mind to good use towards achieving this. He questioned, and let his questioning transform his beliefs, his being, and his work. Even if it meant that some of what he valued, and drew meaning and purpose from, would have to be sacrificed… or rather, that he would be the sacrifice. He loved clarity. But only if it embraced chaos, and presented challenges.

David L. died this morning, or sometime last night. It began to snow then, quietly wiping out footprints that the landing flakes succumbed to. Making white from chaos, and letting darkness sliver the white.

Rest in peace my friend. Just as you dedicated your life to teaching and Russian culture, you remained  to the end, so much a Russian in spirit, embracing clarity while dancing on the fringes of chaos.

11 responses to “Untethering”

  1. Thank you. This is so beautiful. I came home and stood before the windows looking out at the snow falling on the frozen lake. David would have loved the image.

  2. Beautifully written, Pradip. I am very happy that I had the privilege of knowing David and of sharing a bit in the relationship that he and Earnie had with you and Rachel.

  3. Moving. Seems appropriate that Dr. Lumpkins, who covered those of us with a twirling, swirling, love of Russian, would be able pass on in such a Dr. Zhivago romantic snowing. До скорой встречи. С Богом.

  4. This is beautiful, Pradip.

    Earnie, I am so terribly sorry. He was the most wonderful man – from the first moment I met him, I absolutely adored him. It was an honor and a blessing to know him and learn from him.

  5. Thank you for creating this tribute. I learned much from Dr. Lumpkins, and my appreciation for Russian language and culture remains from his initial spark.

  6. Pradip: once, at your house (probably 2004) David and I got into a discussion about the Ghost in Pants. I had just discovered Mayakovsky and was kind of romantically wide-eyed from the poet’s work and life. David had a deep understanding and sincere appreciation of Mayakovsky. From the ghost he turned to his own views on the social and political turns in this region in the 60’s and 70’s. His opinions were unique, revelatory, and quite new to me. The conversation concluded with him almost jumping up and down with a degree of enthusiasm I hadn’t seen from him before- telling me to in essence “do something”- to boldly offer and pursue whatever I could as an artist, teacher and member of my community. He seemed to hold these convictions deep inside him, perhaps not sharing them often. Mayakovsky seemed to be a trigger and I am not sure why he chose to encourage me as he did but I am grateful for it. I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked but the few times we did have together are important to me. He was always generous with his opinions and knowledge. He was a constant and ethical provocateur. I will never forget our conversation about the ghost in pants and I will miss him.

  7. I’m so sorry to hear about Dr. Lumpkins. He will remain in my heart for as long as I live, and especially every time I read Anton Chekov short stories or Dostoevsky.. My life has definitely been made richer by Dr. Lumpkins’s wisdom and charm. He embodied all the good qualities of a Southern gentleman at the same time he admired all things 19th century Russian. I will never forget him. Rest in peace Dr. Lumpkins and my deepest sympathy to Mrs. Lumpkins. xoxoxo from Vienna, Jenni

  8. First of all, thank you Pradip for your beautiful words and tribute to a wonderful friend. I have had the privilege to know David since kindergarten on through high school. Not as much since then until he, Earnie and I reconnected through a celebration of his aunt’s 80th birthday several years ago. His quirky humor and brilliant mind made me laugh and marvel. I will miss his emails very, very much. Earnie, much love to you.