Sam was my cousin on my mother’s side. We were seven cousins: six boys and myself; Sam was the youngest by roughly 15 to 20 years. The age difference meant we did not grow up with Sam. A further limit to our contact with him was the fact that we were living in different parts of the globe when Sam was born and during the early years of his childhood.
Several of those who have contributed to the blog have noted Sam’s talent as a teacher. Even as a little boy he demonstrated that talent. After I finished grad school I worked for a year for Sam’s late mother Nora who had a consulting firm – International Development Organization (IDO). Sam, then 13 years old, would come after school to IDO to help me with computer-related things like how to change the printer cartridge. He insisted that he would teach me how rather than simply doing it himself. In particular I remember the printer cartridge lesson given sweetly and good naturedly by him without a hint of condescension.
I moved back to Winnipeg to accept a job and during the many intervening years we lived our lives going on our separate journeys with our paths rarely crossing. One of the most notable memories I have of Sam as an adult is his wedding which stands out in my mind as the most enchanting one I have ever had occasion to attend! Initially I was apprehensive about going because apart from my uncle Shoukry and his partner Heather I did not know the other guests and wrongly assumed that with my liberal arts background Sam’s scientist friends would converse on topics that are completely inaccessible to me who has never figured out how to enter phone numbers of contacts on her cell phone and instead carries around a small address book in her handbag)!
Most thankfully I set aside those apprehensions and went and spent the week-end in Jacob, Ontario with a close-knit group of Sam and Meredith’s dearest friends and I remember thinking during the wedding event that there was just so much love in the room.
One definitely learns about a person through the company they keep. I was so glad to have had the opportunity at Sam’s wedding to meet and spend some bit of time interacting with Meredith as well as Sam and Meredith’s friends who struck me as among the finest people quite apart from their scientific or professional stature. They came across as interesting and more importantly interested, articulate, warm and genuine. Through my participation in his wedding, I came to learn how much my cousin Sam valued friendships.
While he and I did not have occasion to discuss them, in contrast to our other cousins, Sam and I shared certain life-defining experiences in common: we are both only children, we were both born in countries outside Egypt and both of our mothers died when they were comparatively young.
Arriving at a place of acceptance of events that we find overwhelming to fathom, and cessation of the searching mind that is hungry for answers, are entirely understandable challenges at this time; and yet, for Sam’s sake, I believe the greatest gift we can give him now is to release him in peace unconditionally, and to cherish the memories we have of our times together with him. How wonderful indeed that in such a relatively short life such as his, Sam managed to cast such a wide net in terms of his personal and professional impact. It leaves me very proud of him.
Sam Roweis died unexpectedly on January 12, 2010.
He was a truly wonderful person; a beloved son, husband and father; and a treasured friend and colleague.
This is a place for all of us who were lucky enough to know Sam to share our memories and to help celebrate his life.
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There is also an album of photographs for which contributions are welcome. Instructions on how to contribute appear next to album.