Upon the occasion of his 70th birthday, I celebrate Dr. Harry “Rick” Moody, Ph.D.
I first met Dr. Moody in 1998 shortly after his lovely book The five stages of the soul was published. Rick came to Marylhurst University to give a public reading sponsored by our then brand-new gerontology program. I had been following his work as a critical gerontologist for quite some time, taught his gerontology textbook Aging: Concepts and controversies (which I now co-author with him) and, truth be told, designed the interdisciplinary gerontology program at Marylhurst inspired by the critical thinking and liberal education approach embodied in that text. He is amongst the most influential North American gerontologists; there are few areas in the field of aging that Rick hasn’t influenced in lasting and powerful ways.
So you can imagine my excitement when Rick not only accepted the invitation to give a presentation at my university but offered to meet with me for a mentoring session!
And you can also perhaps imagine my distress when I developed laryngitis the day before his visit and could only manage to communicate with this gerontology luminary – Dr. Moody! – by speaking with a barely audible croak.
If you know Rick you are lucky. And if you know Rick you will probably not be surprised to hear that he was patient, kind and generous as he engaged with me for over an hour in a conversation about the challenges and opportunities I faced as I began my first official post-doctorate faculty position, as well as my aspirations for development in and contributions to the field of gerontology.
I would have conversed with Rick for far longer had my voice not quit. There were so many questions I wanted to ask him, so much common-ground and new territory to cover. He promised the conversation could continue in the future and by the end of our time together he extended to me the gift of his ongoing mentoring, a gift which I accepted immediately and have received countless blessings from over the past seventeen years.
In addition to serving as an important professional mentor, Rick has also become my close colleague and friend. I admire his intellectual brilliance, boundless energy, emotional generosity, unique vision, and commitment to service.
And I am inspired and held up by his well-examined belief in the power of radical praxis animated by wisdom, love, and compassion.
Rick is a human being par excellence.
For all of these reasons (and so many more!) I proclaim: Happy birthday, Rick Moody! And many (many!) happy returns!
(And: Thank you.)