A few days ago, I learned that my high school librarian, Lori Kirtley-Wilson passed away (pictured above).
A few days ago, I learned more about her than I had learned during the three years I walked the halls of my high school.
In high school, I knew her as a caring, dedicated, gentle adult who enjoyed working with the school’s drill team. She spent as much time preparing those of us on the drill team to be ladies as she did leading us through practices, selecting uniforms, and coordinating appearances/trips. I can still hear her saying, “Ladies, never forget, you are the epitome of womanhood.” During the summer, it was nothing to see her driving around a car full of squiggly, giggly, nerve-racking girls, and always with a smile.
A few days ago after reading her obituary, I learned that Mrs. Kirtley-Wilson had written a book on dreams and angels. I learned she had been a Queen of the Red Hat Society. I learned that she was active in church and community.
Surprised by all the new things I learned about Mrs. Kirtley-Wilson I felt sadness that I had not taken the time when in her presence to learn the woman who wore the title of librarian and drill team sponsor. It made me wonder how many other people I interface with and yet take for granted. How many other people have I not fully connected with because I haven’t explored the person behind the title?
I don’t want to learn about the lovely aspects of a person or their personal achievements from an obituary. I don’t want to make that mistake again. So today and for as long as I breathe, I commit to look beyond the title of librarian, teacher, mechanic, president, letter carrier, bully, teller, parent, etc. to see the real person inside. It might not be a successful look-see. Then, again, it might. My intention might be misunderstood or met with resistance. Then, again, it might not. But the least I can do is try. The least I can do is venture forth and try to make a human-to-human connection. This much I owe to Mrs. Kirtley-Wilson. This much I owe to myself.
Mrs. Kirtley-Wilson, I am sorry I am just now learning of your full greatness, but I thank you that even in death, you are still pushing me to be the best I can be. Have fun in heaven. I’ll see you there one day, and I promise when I get there, we’ll laugh about those special drill team days and have great conversations about books.
My love and thanks to other librarians who I have connected with in small and great ways:
Laverne Brown, Dallas Public Library
Victor Kralisz, retired, Dallas Public Library
Karen Beckett, Irving Public Library
Janet Vance, Richardson Public Library