Cary Lu

Tonya Engst[hidden]

I moved to the Seattle area in 1991 and met Cary soon after that through dBUG and through our mutual interests in reporting on Macintosh-related topics. Cary was exquisitely good at responding to a canned press presentation by politely asking key questions about whether the product in question was actually any good.

As time went on, I saw more and more of Cary and a friendship developed. I helped him with Word 5 problems, and he helped me sell my Power Mac 7200 when the motherboard broke. Cary and I both became a frequent participants in an informal, monthly lunch for local technology writers. Although Cary lived almost an hour's drive from me (I live south of Issaquah; he lived in the hinterlands of Kirkland), we discovered that it sometimes made sense to carpool to dBUG meetings in Seattle. Adam (my husband) and I both also saw Cary with Ellen, Nathaniel, and Meredith a few times and had several pleasant family dinners (a practice that I hope to continue). Cary was great to know at trade shows - he always had insightful comments and knew where to find good, free food.

At the San Francisco Macworld Expo in January of 1997, Cary's lower back was giving him a great deal of pain, especially when he sat down, and I recall actually having lunch standing up with him (at trade shows, a standing lunch is almost unheard of - everyone's feet get tired). Cary thought the pain was something wrong with his spine, perhaps a disk problem, but later that month he learned about the cancer, and he called to discuss it with Adam and myself. What I remember most about these discussions (there were many) was that Cary was by and large very practical but grew soft and sad when talking about Nathaniel and Meredith, saying that his deepest regret was not being with them for longer.

As Cary's cancer wore on, Adam and I both began making a greater effort to see him regularly and to take him places. In the end, Cary was surrounded with friends and family from near and far, and it became a balancing act to want to see him through and also to leave him be so he'd have the strength to interact with the many people who wanted to be of comfort or to say good-bye. I recall a scene from the last time Cary was in the hospital - Adam and I were visiting, Ellen was having lunch, two other friends stopped by as well, and the phone was literally ringing off the hook. The hospital didn't have voice mail. The last few visits were at home, and I recall when the home oxygen unit was delivered. Ellen and most visitors went over to the far corner of the room where the tank was being set up with various power-out alarms and other controls. I stayed by Cary's bed and saw that look on his face - something technical was being set up and he wasn't being included.

From Cary's example, I learned about how to be a technology writer and how to approach daily life in an analytical manner. Toward the end, I learned a great deal about how to die. Another friend of Cary's commented at some point toward the end that Cary was a great human being. I took this to encompass Cary's concern with doing the right thing and with being a member of his community, as well as his subtle humor and genuine goodwill. Cary was indeed a great human, not to mention a great example. I plan to remember Cary not only in terms of his physical body but also in terms of the mental portrait of ideas and lightness that his actions created. I will be remembering him not only for his sake but also for my own.