Monday, October 10, 2011

Remembering Kitty...

There are teachers and there are teachers.  And there are union leaders and union leaders.  And there are friends and there are friends.  And there are people who are just more vivid than the rest of us.  This morning we lost a teacher, a union leader and just a vibrant person, Kitty O'Callaghan.

I first met Kitty when I moved here and as a substitute teacher got involved with the union.  Kitty was on the executive and later the president my first few years teaching in Vancouver.  She later went off to Ottawa to be President of the Canadian Teachers' Federation.  When she returned she taught many years at Moberly School where I had the privilege to work with her.  Nine years ago she retired and that summer we went off to India where to meet our friend, Harjinder.  It was an unforgettable trip and Kitty was the best travel companion anyone could wish to have.  I have so many vivid images of that adventure!!! 

Kitty was one of the most passionate people I have ever met!  She was a passionate teacher, hardworking, dedicated to her students, and to making our school the best that it could be.  When I first came to Moberly, she had a student in her class who had attended MacCorkindale exactly four days the previous year despite everything anyone could do.  With Kitty as his teacher he seldom missed a day.  He didn't have a choice.  She was fearless.  As the oldest in a large family, she was used to leading.  Those leadership skills stood her in good stead as a remarkable union leader in very difficult times.

She was a great friend.  She was the friend who could tell you exactly what rug you needed in your living room.  Yes, there was that remarkable sense of style-how could I forget... My first impression of her was how absolutely stunning she was.  And how we loved the parties at her and Steve's beautiful heritage home...   She was kind, she was generous, and she was honest but always caring of her friends.

I still can't believe she is gone, her voice seems to ring in my ears.  I feel very privileged to have known her, and my sympathy goes out to all her beloved family. 

The picture is of a rose that her great friend, Maureen MacDonald said reminded her of how Kitty brightened any room she entered.  The poem also comes from Maureen...
Dirge without Music

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.
The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.


Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful tribute to Kitty, Meredyth. Thanks for writing it. Maureen.

Anonymous said...

When the Good Lord is a sad as only the Good Lord can git, there be Kitty to rest his head on her bosom and say "There, there dear." and he will be blessed.
Thanks Kitty for blessing us all whenever you decided we needed it.
Rob Dean

Anonymous said...

Miss u teach. Class of 97