A Person to Admire

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This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time now, but am now just getting around to it, unfortunately. There are a lot of people that I admire on this campus, students and professors alike. But my German professor, Herr Pendleton, is a man whom I admire perhaps most of all. At the end of last semester, Herr Pendleton had a hip replacement done. It was a few days before the semester ended officially, and because he wasn’t really needed to give our final exam, his son (who is fluent in the language) proctored our test.

I’d always really liked Herr Pendleton, even though I struggle greatly with new languages (…as though my ability to learn a language were inherently tied with whether or not I liked the instructor…). Classes where you’re expected to be ready at a moment’s notice to answer in another language make me nervous, but yet I managed to truly enjoy German I. It was a combination of my classmates and Herr Pendleton. There was enough humor in the class that it put me at ease.

So imagine how upset I was to find out that over break, just after Herr Pendleton had undergone his hip replacement, he had suffered a somewhat severe stroke. He’d lost all ability to speak in a microsecond. He regained speech rapidly (I use this term relatively), only to suffer a second stroke. He relayed this to us the first day of class, and we were pretty devestated. For good reason – Herr Pendleton was always sharp as a tack and hard as nails. To see him weak like this was beyond strange, it was somewhat in comprehensible.

Note that our break was only about 2 1/2 weeks long. That is a very short recovery period for a person who suffered 2 strokes. Yet, there he was at the front of the classroom, cracking jokes about his slow speech and complaining about his doctor’s orders (which, to our knowledge, he hasn’t followed that well). He told that we were under no circumstances to tell him anything remotely emotional, for he’d most likely burst into tears on account of his nerves/emotional retention being shot completely. At this point, the newly engaged couple in the back whispered they’d not tell him they’d set a date.

Herr Pendleton has just been an amazing example, and I admire him very much for his tenacity and strength of will. And I suppose his audacity. He wasn’t supposed to be teaching, but his excuse was, “I’m the only German professor at the school. Who would teach my students?” His excuse for not taking a break from coaching [basketball] was along the lines of, “why quit now? We’re halfway through the season, I’ve got to be there for my guys.”

He’s got crazy amounts of stubbornness in him, I’ll say that much. It’s both impressive and ridiculously intimidating at the same time. He’s been an amazing example of faith and hard work, qualities that I really admire. I feel very fortunate to be in his class. One major lesson I’ve learned is the fact that you can most definitely laugh in the face of adversity. You have to, otherwise you’ll go nuts.

It reminds me of the quote by Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Come what may and love it.”

Except that I think Herr Pendleton would add a little something extra, “Come what may and love it, and kick butt.”

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