Jul. 19th, 2009

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There are teachers who stay with you your whole life. Mr. McCourt was one of mine.

I was one of those neurotic high school kids he talked about in Angela's Ashes whose dramatic little miseries confounded him in the face of his own great one. It's a measure of the man that I never knew that. All I knew was that he was smart and honest and sharp and funny and kind. He occasionally came to first period exuding a faint air of last night's Guinness (which at the time I thought was terribly glamorous) but always on time and prepared and treating his job with respect and ready to pay attention to us.

He was the first person to tell me I was a writer, and I was starstruck enough that I believed it.

I bought his book the first day it came out. To me, it was a celebrity biography. Her Majesty was just born, and I was still figuring out being a parent, and the whole redemption thing really helped. I got a later edition signed. That first one was all mine.

I got a few of his books signed. He seemed at peace, and I was really glad.

I am glad. I'm glad that he had those last years of people listening to his stories, and I'm glad that his last marriage was a happy one, and I'm glad that he got to know the children of his much-beloved daughter.

And I'm really glad the rest of you got to meet him.

Rest in peace, Mr. McCourt.


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