VOICES OF DAVIDSON

True Story

by | Aug 16, 2018 | Voices of Davidson

Tony Snow’s first day on the job at the White House. (Jane Campbell photo)

Family and friends roundly celebrated my recent birthday. It was a round number, after all, one of those decade birthdays that seems to carry more weight than others. As an extroverted Leo, I generally like birthdays, and I was certainly not dreading this one, round though it may have been.

At least I didn’t think I was.

One week to the day before my birthday, I woke up to realize that an old friend had joined me in a lifelike dream. We were in a classroom in Davidson’s Chambers Building — from the days before the renovations. Professor Charlie Ratliff had just finished an economics lecture, and I began to stuff things into my backpack. A few seats down – in the dream and as I remember in what we call “real life” — my classmate Tony Snow was packing up, as well.

Tony Snow, pictured with friends in the Davidson class of ’77. (Photo courtesy of Kevin C. Shelly)

If that name is familiar, it should be. Tony graduated with a philosophy degree and went on to become a nationally known journalist and political commentator — in print, on radio, and TV. In the ’70s, Tony was scruffy and long-haired like most of the boys — though taller and handsomer than many. By the ’90s, he was a clean-cut Republican who joined the communications team in George H. W. Bush’s administration and who in 2006 became George W’s press secretary. Brilliant and funny and highly respected, Tony returned that respect to his colleagues in the in the White House briefing room.

Back to the dream. As we were about to leave, Tony said, “Hey, guess what? In three weeks, I’ll be 70!”

“Ha,” I said. “I got you beat. I’ll be 70 a week from today.”

Whereupon I woke up.

Here was Tony, heartbreakingly lost to colon cancer in 2008 at the age of 53, showing up to remind me that growing old is a privilege too often denied.

Showing up in a classroom from 40-plus years ago, where more than once he stayed a few generous minutes after class to explain how the x and y axis operated on the blackboard in front of us, some lesson that had whizzed over my head during the lecture.

Showing up now in my dream life to make sure I understand the lesson of birthdays.

And I do.

Meg Kimmel

A professional communicator with a long career in higher education, Meg now consults and volunteers in areas where words and images work together to tell a story. She's a proud member of Davidson's Class of 1977 and lives nearby with her husband, Don, Davidson professor emeritus of biology, with whom she shares a family grown by kinship and choice.

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