The Loss of a Giant in Wisdom, Humility, and Balance….A Remembrance.

Richard.I write in this space.  I share.  I try to relay to you my emotion and excitement about things that excite me.  I write about people, every day people, who make a difference.  I write to you as I feel things and I inform you on things I learn.  Some things you may know already, some things may be new.  Some things you may agree with and others you may not.  Today, I write about a friend of mine.

A friend, that whether you knew him or not; changed the world of diabetes.  And you should know about him.

Dr. Richard Rubin passed away this week.  He was a giant in our world and he would be very annoyed at me for saying so.  But you need to know who he was because his work will forever impact those we love with diabetes.

He was a psychologist, professor of medicine and pediatrics at John Hopkins School of Medicine and his awards, achievements, and over 200 diabetes-related publications would fill pages and pages of the written word.  His work helped many and made him respected by all of his peers alike.  He was a mountain of knowledge; he was a dad to a child with type 1 diabetes.  He was a father, a grandfather, a father-in-law, a husband, and a colleague.  He was a friend who found the commonalities that he faced with others in his work, his battle for life, and in our world of the ‘new normal’. 

If I could think of one word that Richard taught me; it was the word balance.  His ‘coined’ phrase of Diabetes Overwhelmus is still used today in describing when the world just gets to be too much and what to do to handle a life, or the life, of diabetes.  My involvement with him from the very first CWD Friends for Life Conference until the last time I saw him, where else; but a CWD Conference just recently, enriched my life more each time I ran into him.  How fortunate to know him for the years I did.

His smile was warm, his ability to listen uncanny, and unlike anyone I have ever met he could listen and remember something you may have said a day, a week, or a year ago; and bring it back how it would relate to the topic of discussion you were presently engaged.  He had a gift.

He often spoke of his family who he loved dearly, and would always find time to speak to them.  He taught about balancing the things we do professionally and personally; he would work that balance and he taught us to do the same.   He would freely tell you of his flaws and what he learned in his mistakes.  Good, bad, different, stressful, earth-shattering, joyous, and on and on—-this thing called life was the perfect teaching tool and Richard was the perfect teacher to show us how to maximize those tools.  He taught our grandparents, he taught our adults, he taught our teens, he taught our young children, and he surely taught us who worked with him.

I have very personal stories of advice Richard offered me, and I know I’m not alone as the recipient of those ‘unbilled’ sessions we were all so fortunate to have with a man who understood life as no other I have known; a man who reached across the table and could touch your life with wisdom, your heart with love, and your soul with peace.

His love for photography painted pictures of life.  Animals, plants,….and well, life as it should be through the eyes of a master who understood just that……  There was some comfort in words he wrote recently, “….I am not afraid.”  He knew the battle he had valiantly fought and he was well aware of what battles he had left.  In the end, his body had enough and it was time to go; perhaps a little quicker than we wanted but he would probably tell us that all-in-all it was the right balance of how things like this should go; giving enough time to say good-bye and do a few things he wanted to do.

I saw him just recently and we talked for a while and he turned and he faced me.  “I want to tell you something, Tom”, he said,  “I love you and you’re a good man.  The diabetes world needs you to keep fighting.”  And we hugged each other and he walked away.  Those words will now resonate with me forever.  He was, in his style, saying good-bye.

I cried uncontrollably when I heard Richard had passed.  And now I will do as he stated and I will continue that fight.  We will all continue that fight.  When it comes to my sorrow, my pain, and my dedication to moving forward I will honor him every day of my life by finding that balance at every given turn to move forward.

We, as a diabetes community, are so grateful to his entire family for sharing a giant of a man they could have so easily kept to themselves; a man who was as humble as he was a powerhouse.

A man who taught us how to handle so many fears in this diabetes world we live in and how we all can go forward and understand within ourselves the phrase…….”I am not afraid.”

Rest my friend.

I love you Richard, and thank you.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’

12 replies on “The Loss of a Giant in Wisdom, Humility, and Balance….A Remembrance.”

I was lucky to have attended his lecture at FFL 2012. We were 6 months into the diagnosis and I was so scared of seeing high numbers. I remember him saying to not be afraid to experiment – to keep trying until you get it. To not consider anything a failure, but a lesson in what to do next time. I said to him after the lecture, ” I’m so worried about long term complications. When experimenting, how much can I get away with?” and he said to me, “A lot. The only thing you should be concerned with is a debilitating low.” I remember these words of wisdom when I let my child eat an 80 carbohydrate pizza hot lunch and she has a blood sugar of 280 2 hours later. I’ll keep experimenting until I get it right. This post makes me very grateful that I was able to meet him last year and I just you in expressing grief for this loss.

How so sweet of you to write. Stefan wrote also……I thought I was done crying. I wasn’t. The words were only a reflection of how he touched the lives of many, I was only but a one. As I stated to Stefan, I repeat to you; may peace find a way into your hearts.
With so much love,

Thank you for this beautiful tribute to my brother. I have read it several times and know I will again.
Mary Sue

Oh Mary Sue—–the thank yous so go to all of you for sharing this wonderful man. We all hurt for you and no words could ever take that pain away…..our hope is that you see from many how much he meant; perhaps that may add an ounce of peace to your hearts.
Regards always.

I want to thank you for your lovely tribute to my brother. Until recently he would regularly work 70 to 80 hours a week. A number of years ago I pointed out to him that he might be classified as a workaholic. To this he replied: “No I’m not. because I love my work!” There were many years when Dick would rent a house at Rehoboth Beach for part of the summer, with various family members coming and going for various lengths of time. He would get up at about 5:30 to do several hours of work before most of the rest of the house had woken, then spend smaller periods of time during the day, managing to both fit in what for most of us would be a normal number of work hours. But he was always present for fun and games and talk.. That was his “balancing” act, and he performed it perfectly. How I will miss him!

What a beautiful tribute. I cried when I heard of Richard’s death too. He was an amazing human being, and I was fortunate to be one of those parents who got the hours or free advice. His compassion, combined with his deep, personal knowledge, made him so easy to talk to about my child and his difficulties dealing with diabetes. I feel fortunate to have known him. Richard was a true gift.

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