I learned today that one of my former professors, Dr. Barbara Cicardo, passed away.
Now, Dr. Cicardo was a pretty amazing woman. It seemed that she had read just about everything, and her memory was unlike anything I've ever seen. Unless I've read a book more than once or taught it, I'm lucky if I can detail the plot for you a few months later. But Dr. Cicardo could remember what she read during elementary school and tell you details as if she had just closed the cover...well into her 70's.
I took a few classes with Dr. Cicardo to prepare myself for my early American literature comprehensive exam. One such class was on the American Eve, an interesting study in women's roles in 18th and early 19th century texts. The class was once a week for three hours. Filling up a three-hour lecture is no easy task; but if you were Barbara Cicardo, this was done with ease. Not even laryngitis stopped her. One night she actually wrote the lecture on the board in between whispers.
If you needed to stop into her office, her door was always open. Joke was, you would need to pencil in about an hour of your time. She wouldn't just want to talk to you about literature. She'd want to talk to you about life in general. About her sister. About her youth. About her day.
A handful of graduate students affectionately called her Bobby C., but you knew better than to address her as anything other than Dr. Cicardo in class and in the hallways. She told us that she had earned her title and she was proud of it.
So, Dr. Cicardo, here's to you. I hope my career in academia lasts the length of yours, and I thank you for the time you dedicated to us over the years.