Friday, March 06, 2009


Back in the fall of 1974 when I landed in a graduate seminar on Benito Pérez Galdós as one the first three classes I took at the University of Kentucky, I was so petrified by my obvious lack of knowledge that I went to my advisor and asked for a schedule change. I was actually thinking I would drop out of gradschool completely, but my immediate concern was to get out of Dr. Brian J. Dendle's class as fast as I could. I knew NOTHING about Galdós or the history of Spain, and Professor Dendle's seeming lack of patience with underprepared graduate students (like me) intimidated me such that I could not say a word---I was frozen in fear while other grads engaged Dr. Dendle in intellectual banter that made me want to sneak out the door and never return.

To make a long story short, Professor McCrary, my advisor, convinced me to stick it out and assured me that beneath the dry, sarcastic wit of this obviously brilliant British professor lay a teddy bear of a person whom I would end up liking. Two summers later, Dr. Dendle and I took a group of students from UK to Mexico, and upon returning, another grad student and I lived at 272 S. Hanover in Lexington as we prepared for our written and oral comprehensive exams.

Fast forward to 2009. I can't imagine what my life would have been like without Brian Dendle's friendship and love over the years We've been the best of friends for 35 years now, and during my visit with him last weekend, I was reminded of how deeply I honor, respect, and love the "old geezer." I love this photo of him.....

Over the last couple of years, Dendle's kidneys have basically quit functioning, and this past week he began dialysis in Lexington. He had hoped to move to France to be with Claudine, his beloved partner, and start the dialysis process there, but I believe the RN who suggested he have his cemetary plot in order might have convinced him he'd best begin the treatments sooner rather than later. For the moment, his plans are on hold until he can figure out the logistics of dialysis in France.

When I left the house last weekend, it was all I could do to contain the huge flood of tears that burst forth the moment I got into the car. Selfishly, I didn't want a place I have known as home for three decades to get sold to another owner. The thought of not being able to stop in and have tea with Dendle in the sun room or upstairs made me very sad.

But then, I just decided that I'd have to go visit him in France. After all, Eliza wants to study there, so I can visit her when she's abroad and crash with Dendle and Claudine. The Bluegrass Commune, as we used to refer to his house, will just relocate and re-establish itself in Europe.
Make up the beds, Dendle....Shook's going to be a squatter chez toi en France.


Kristy Vernon said...

What a touching story. I had a similar experience with a graduate professor but I really did run from his classes after the first one :). Anyway, if you are ever down in Lexington again and want to drive another hour to Elizabethtown, I'd very much enjoy your company. We could knit and speak Spanish :).

Anonymous said...

Hi. My name is Karoline Manny. I was one of Brian Dendle's students too, as an undergrad and grad student. He was one of my favorite professors and I was just searching for a way to get in contact with him since I am moving back to Lexington. I ran across hid post in my search. Do you know how Brian is doing? You could email me at if you have any info you could share.