Remarks of Judy Bibgy at the Funderal


Jeanne asked me to say something today as Gary's friend.  In the last few days as I reflected on how much Gary meant to me, I realized he was also a mentor, role model, teacher and advocate. Through the work we did together identifying barriers to entitlements for sick, poor people, Gary changed the way I practice medicine.   For this I will be forever grateful.

But out of our work relationship, my husband Michael and I developed a unique friendship with Gary and Jeanne.  We felt completely comfortable with them, always.  We could talk about any thing and speak honestly without fear of that awkwardness that sometimes develops between friends when they disagree with each other or compete for air time --whether we were discussing the Patriots, the Yankees and Red Sox, the Knicks and Celtics (unlike Gary I have not been able to give up my NY sports loyalties) a movie, a book, an op ed, or whether it was Elvis and the music he stole, John Rocker and freedom of speech, or those topics sure to test every friendship: religion and race, we could say what we believed and felt and reflect on our personal experiences.  We could turn things around, and up and down, and in and out and in the end we never got angry or let our differences drive us apart.  Instead we all grew and we grew closer. On one occasion sitting in our kitchen Gary wondered out loud how it was the four of us were able to have what he considered honest discussions about race. Well one reason was that Jeanne was always mindful to keep Gary honest.  But Gary was one of those rare people who were able to see things through the eyes of the other ---the black, the poor, the immigrant, the woman. And often he didn't like what he saw.  From our times together it was clear he had the highest moral and ethical standards --whether of the law school where he taught, of his students, of his children and of his friends. And he wasn't threatened by honesty.  He expected it.  But it seemed it was fairness that mattered the most. 

I will miss Gary.  I will miss the few days we could grab together each summer in Wellfleet or on the Vineyard. Who else will bring technical legal books and journals to the beach?  I will miss the way he engaged my kids in conversation, truly interested in what they were up to and about their opinions on whatever topic we were discussing at the moment.  I will miss running into him in some small cafe in JP where I know he was hiding so he could finish a brief or class.  I will miss the dinners in the North End before a Celtics game.  I will miss his kindness and concern. I will miss his energy.  I will miss his encouragement to just keep doing the things I think are important. 

Gary had his quirks --his car was a nightmare, the chewed pencils, the terrible penmanship, he was not a great cook, and the borrowed books that were gone forever, --- probably in the mess in his car. At one point when he was waiting for his heart he told me one Saturday that he didnít want me to come visit any more.  I was devastated of course, and being a physician, I should have known it was hypoxia and drugs talking, but I thought Gary was tired of trying to be his usual self into with friends at that point and he just wanted to rest.  After his transplant he was mortified that he had told me this and didnít remember saying it.  He was genuinely sorry.  Gary hated pomp and circumstance when it was just for the sake of pomp and circumstance.  He hated what he so simply called phoniness and the whole concept of being known for whom you knew, or who knew you.  But perhaps being known for the prominent people who hated him for his work did amuse him. 

Gary was always just Gary.  Even after his heart was gone, his heart was in everything he cared about: his work, his friends, his family, his children and Jeanne.  To Douglas, Courtney and David I thank you for sharing.  To Jeanne we love you and know that your heart is broken.  We treasure your friendship and hope that you don't mind that we will continue to see a little of Gary in you.

Judy Bigby
 
 

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