Tom Haines Jay Walks Again

I have reluctantly placed Tom at 305 West End Assisted Living on the locked 6th floor. After a brief rebellion, he is settling in and devoting himself to helping his fellow prisoners–staff calls him the “Mayor”. I visit him twice a day.

Slowly and relentlessly, the disease Tom most feared has caught up with him. Yet despite moments of horror and despair, he has maintained a cheerful denial and determination to enjoy his life and work.

On retiring from CCNY, he worked feverishly on his theory of how “short-strong hydrogen bonds” hold together biological membranes. In 2016, when that project stalled, he plunged into his autobiography with Mindy Lewis: A Curious Life, published on his 86th birthday, August 9, 2019. Since 2011, he also put his energy into serving on the board of the Graham School, founded in 1806, the orphanage where he grew up.

This year, Tom began heading out on urgent missions. There was one to advise President Boudreau of City College on how to recruit a new dean for Tom’s beloved CUNY Medical School, which he founded in 1972. Two weeks ago, for the second time that day, Tom took off for Mexico pushing his scarlet Nitro rollator. (And don’t you try to stop me!) I called 911. As Tom executed a sweeping jay walk across Columbus Avenue, lit up in the headlights of oncoming cars, the cops dragged him to safety. It was time.

Though he now rarely recognizes people, sometimes not even me, Tom still loves company. I look forward to taking him out to meals with friends. I can also arrange zoom meetings on my laptop.

I  feel sad setting the dinner table for one, but grateful we can afford a good quality place. I will make the most of our remaining time together. After thirty-six years, we love each other as much as ever.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.


Originally sent to friends, 11/23/2021.

1 comment to Tom Haines Jay Walks Again

  • Robert Ashford

    Dear Polly,
    Thank you for your thoughtful update.
    My heart goes out to you and Tom.
    Kind regards,
    Robert Ashford
    (315) 491-4888