Small Remembrance – Dr. Edward Lee Shirley
I had every intent of posting up a new poem of mine, either sonnet or another, but I was just recently informed that a professor of mine has passed: Dr. Edward Shirley, a theological professor at St. Edward’s University.
He was a quirky, spirited, and amazingly fun professor to have. I will never forget the class I took with him last, Religious Themes of Harry Potter, which ultimately boiled down to reading the HP series and discussing ways in which theological elements were implemented in the story.
Though I only had him in two classes my first two years of college, he always remembered my name. He was the kind of person you’d see walking around campus every day almost always in conversation with a student, usually more than one, but he would always make it a point to say hi as you passed. When he wasn’t walking around, he would be sitting to lunch with a large group of students. That was the main element of Dr. Shirley that stood out to me, his closeness to his students. He even went to see the midnight release of the last Potter film with several students. He had a youthful vitality that always surprised me.
I know most of you all who read this will undoubtedly not know this man, and some may have skimmed this post and moved on, but I just wanted to put down these few memories of him while they are on my mind today.
I want this post to be dedicated to Dr. Shirley, so I am going to conclude with a fitting poem by Marie Howe.
What the Living Do
Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through
the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,
I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,
I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking, Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.
What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss–we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.
– Marie Howe
I found this doing a Google search for “Dr. Edward Shirley.” I was a student of his, too — actually enrolled in St. Edward’s from 1991-1995, but he and I became friends and so he continued teaching me through our friendship. Sometimes, when my schedule allowed, I would go to campus and sit in on one of his classes — Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter, usually. I had lunch with him just about 10 days before he died.
I love the poem you chose to remember him with, and glad to see another student of his sharing fond memories.
I wish I could have had more classes with him, but I got into the Harry Potter class. So I count myself lucky.
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I found this while looking for another dedication I remebered seeing. Thank you for the gift of this memory.