Brother Edwin's Friendship QuotientThursday, September 10, 2009
It was two years ago that Rosemary, Rebecca and I went to Mérida via Austin,Texas. We had gone to Austin to visit my old school, St Edward’s up on a hill. And I was particularly keen to meet up with Brother Edwin Reggio CSC who had taught me religion and the alto saxophone back in 1959. Before going to Austin I had called him up to enquire how he was. His answer was almost indignant in tone, “I am just fine, after all I am only 75.” It was only then that I realized that the old man who taught us religion when we were 16 was only 25.
We were driving with our friend Howard Houston and his wife to take Brother Edwin to a famous barbecue restaurant called the County Line when Rebecca sprung a question at Brother Edwin on why it seemed that he and I got along so well. Brother Edwin’s explanation seemed to satisfy Rebecca but it initially went over my head. It went like this:
"When your grandfather was in school and he was 16, I was 25. If you make that into a fraction it is 16/25 which equals 0.64. Ten years later that’s 26/35 or 0.74. When your grandfather was 50 that would be 50/61 or 0.81 and now we stand at 65/74 or 0.87. Rebecca as we both get older that difference in age becomes minimal as that quotient approaches 1 and eventually becomes 1.”
For anybody who knows of calculus and geometry that is an asymptote curve that approaches zero at infinity, sort of. I understood later what Brother Edwin was driving at but Rebecca seemed to absorb the concept on the spot.
I met Abraham Rogatnick, top, left, in 1999 and we became friends. When he died a few weeks ago he was 85. That’s 67/85 or 0.78. I now finally understand why I have developed friendships with people that when I was younger I would not have even considered. This is wonderful and it is exciting to know that I am capable of making many new old friends.
I explained this to Abraham and he simply said, “Of course. Didn’t you know this? ” No, I didn’t. But I am glad that Abraham and I became friends even if my grasp of mathematics was not to the equal of Brother Edwin.