Edward Peter Austin
August 13, 1954 – November 11, 2021
On August 13, 1954 Edward Peter Austin was born. He was a "blue baby", a premature birth condition in which the circulatory and other vital body systems are not yet fully developed. Essentially there was no blood or oxygen getting to his brain or extremities, and our parents were told to prepare for his imminent death. However, those of you who have grown up in a deeply devoted Irish Catholic family, or the like, will understand what happened next. Our powerful Irish Catholic grandmother, or as Edward would refer to in his best Irish accent, "me sainted granmither," took it upon herself to march into the Monsignor's office, demand he get his relic from "the true cross" and come with her to the hospital. They blessed the baby, and for the first time he stopped crying. Who knows what was happening inside Ed, or if it was just the perfect moments for his body to kick in, but his systems began to develop, and the doctors kinda scratching their heads, now said if he makes it through the night, he might survive. However, they warned our parents that he will be a vegetable, and they better prepare to keep him in an institution for his entire life. A week or so later, Ed went home like a normal baby, and not only was he not mentally challenged, he was brilliant. When Ed started kindergarten, my parents were told by the school that they weren't sure they could accept him because his was the highest IQ they have ever encountered, and they didn't know if they'd be able to teach him, or do him justice.
He was the 2nd and final child of two enlightened, artistic, spiritually astute, and well spoken people, often described as ahead of their time, who bravely moved their small family to upstate New York when I was 8 and Ed was 5, and who would become affectionately called by their new friends "Mary & Harry Austin of Boston." The move was against the advise or the wishes of 2 very large Irish Catholic families, and very much against the trends of the time, but our father wanted to tap into the educational possibilities he believed existed in New York State's public school system, possibilities, in his opinion, not available in Massachusetts. It was the New York system that told my parents Ed was too smart for any public school, anywhere, and should immediately be enrolled in a school for little geniuses. At that, our parents balked. They wanted us to have the kind of childhood full of other kids, dogs and pets, the outdoors, fun and childhood adventures, and a boarding school, because that's what the inevitable school catering to genius level minds would have been, just wasn't it. So we both went to New York State public schools where Ed became guru for every misfit kid regardless of their category - the geeks, the hell's angel biker kids, the artists and theater kids, the too shy to talk kids - you name it, he was the pied piper. And that is what he's been all his life. He's a caregiver, but hardly anybody knows cause he never blew his own horn. He supported people when they needed help, took care of "stuff" when people really didn't know what to do, and he never asked for anything in return. The pain of his own empathy was like a blanket encompassing people going through whatever pain was theirs to endure.
And pain was what my brother endured over the last 8 months with nobility.
I love my brother, and miss him more than words can begin to express. I admired and respected him, marveled at him, and often wanted to hit him in the head for a stubborn streak that was unflappable. Ed was Ed. Unusual, an artist, a singer, a teacher, with one of the strongest wills I've ever met embodied in a human being, and a true lover of humanity. As one friend put it so well, Ed had one foot here and one foot somewhere else, always reaching toward and wishing to explore the unknown.
Lovingly written by Patricia Austin, Ed's sister.