Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Doctor, Doctor, Tell Me the News

The news? The second PhD is complete. That's right. We now have a Dr. Dr. in the family, and if we were German, his title would be Herr Doktor Doktor Holloway. Good thing we're not in Germany.

Trey has been away since Friday evening when he flew to Scotland for his viva. For those of you this side of the pond who don't know the term, the viva is the UK name for the defense. It is the final hurdle in the series of requirements for the degree of PhD. In this case, Trey was examined by an internal and external examiner in his field. They questioned him extensively about his thesis. I have been told by a reliable source that tradition places the examinee's chair just beyond a sword's length from those of the examiners, a tradition borne out of time I suppose when disgruntled candidates would seek to settle the score with their braun rather than their brains.

This morning Trey sustained his viva, which incidentally in days of yore was defended at Aberdeen from sunup to sundown, or so our family historian informed me. This one, blessedly, was not that long and ended with the happy result we were hoping for.

I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked why on earth someone would want to do another PhD. In fact, those who understand it least are usually those embroiled in or who have actually earned their first. It is a difficult question to answer and a natural one, to be sure. However, I think my mom's analogy explains it best. It's like an artist who has a masterpiece inside of him struggling to come out. Trey had to do it, and God blessed his desire by removing all obstacles to its pursuit, including my own resistance, a topic I promise to write about further. There were many professional reasons to pursue another PhD, but the most compelling of all were the personal ones, the intense drive to pursue a subject doggedly for over three years, embrace it, understand it, live it. Trey is a historian in every sense of the word. Don't be offended if he forgets your name the first 10 times you meet. I've often joked that he will only remember it immediately if you are already dead. He looks at the world through the eyes of history. He is traditional and measured. Every subject, and I mean every, from the sublime to the ridiculous, theology to sports, is interpreted in light of that which has gone before.

Very few every complete a PhD. Even fewer complete more than one. The discipline and focus required to do so is hard to comprehend. I have lived with it for eight of our 9 1/2 years together and I feel like I have only a rudimentary understanding. Trey, and he will protest and ask me to remove this but I refuse (I think I've earned the right), is a remarkable man. With now 5 degrees behind his name he willingly clips little fingernails, changes messy diapers, makes up silly stories, wrestles on the floor and then with grace and ease moves onto Latin poetry, obscure archival research, and grueling hours of late-night writing.

To say I'm proud would be a terrible understatement. I truly admire Trey's commitment to his craft. He is the best man I've ever known, and although right now our lives are full of waiting for the next step, there is great satisfaction in the quiet resolution of this epoch in our lives, that which gave birth to this little blog in the first place.

Here's to you, Trey. Well done!

5 comments:

Lexie Loo & Dylan Too said...

Congratulations, Trey!!!

Mark and Rachel said...

So exciting! Way to go both of you for persevering and doing what it takes as at a team to get through 2 PhD's. You are stars in my book! It was great to see Trey Sunday, but a bit weird without you nearby and the kids running around. Miss you!

The Green Family said...

A hearty congratulations from the Green family!! Wow. It truly is a remarkable achievement. Well done!!

thegranitecity.wordpress.com said...

Wonderful! So glad for all of you! Many congratulations to Trey and to you!

Siân said...

Many Congratulations indeed! Good job Trey.