Sunday, March 27, 2005

Our Miss Brooks

We attended a memorial service a few days ago for a friend of ours who died recently. She was a lovely person and a wonderful teacher. It was odd how my husband and I learned that Sheila was a mutual acquaintance. Shortly after we met we were talking about the impact of good teachers on our lives and I mentioned Sheila's name. He exclaimed that she had been his lab partner in High School-he often copied her lab notes as she was so much better at them than he was. Sheila was extremely bright and competent, but also a kind and approachable teacher with that just right combination of authority and warmth. She taught English and had a love of the subject which was infectious . I can't say she inspired a love of reading in me- I already had that in spades- but she taught me to be more rigourous in my thought, more demanding of myself, more critical, in the broad sense, of the material. She taught me to be independent of mind and to trust my own instincts. So thank you Sheila, thank you.

I found this poem, typewritten on notepaper, left in a book I bought second hand. I don't know the author ( in spite of a google search) but it seems an appropriate tribute. I have changed the him in the second line to her.

Fitting Close
For such a life! Her twelve long sunny hours
Bright to the edge of darkness; then the calm
Repose of twilight and a crown of stars.

terminus ad quem: 1859

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Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)