I remember Donald Cohen [In memoriam, Autumn 2001].
I recall our first meeting. September 1962. By the democracy of the alphabet, Donald and I were teamed for the first year on that special experience, our own corpse. We got on well. Donald was serious, but with dry humor. It came out that he was quietly religious, but took his Judaism with reservations and gentle banter. I had waved goodbye to the Pope a long time ago. Donald gave a shrug (he was good at shrugging) and never tried to sell me his package.
From day one, Donald was interested in psychiatry, especially child psychiatry. I had a flirtation with shrinkery, and there was an informal student interest group, where we further met. The psychiatry department was then heavily into psychoanalysis; I decided I did not need more religion.
In our final year as students, we met again on a general surgery rotation. Our resident, Nicholas Passarelli, M.D. ’59, was really cool and sharp. Dr. Nick immediately realized Donald and I did not have the “right stuff” to be surgeons, but as long as we worked hard and did not sass, we got along fine. For some reason we all decided, in that era of overhead paging, that Dr. Nick needed two Irish assistants. And for six weeks Don Cohen was “Dr. Quinn.”
Like some 19th-century cavalryman in Austria-Hungary, I drifted to the fringes of empire, never to be heard from; remembered only by the alumni fund. Donald returned to the citadel in New Haven. Periodically, I saw mention of his work and growing academic rank. It gave a measure of reflected glory, for once we had been students in medicine and young, in rites of passage, together.
We met briefly at class reunions. To my surprise, he was not at Reunion 35 earlier this year. His final illness explains the lapse.
Tomorrow I go on a long auto trip. The audio book Swann’s Way from Remembrance of Things Past goes with me. I shall remember Donald and things past. …
Eugene Cassidy, M.D. ’66, HS ’68, FW ’70