Professor Mike

This morning, late as usual, I put on my yoga clothes, slipped a hoodie over my shoulders and walked out into HOLY SHIT IT’S COLD OUT HERE!

But the sky was perfectly clear, and there was just the smallest sliver of a moon with some amazing star or planet hanging right next to it, like its best friend.  And there was also another planetary object, smaller than the first, forming a little trio of Moon, Star, Star

Pavel was already there when I walked into the lounge.  I said, “Did you see the moon???”  (Pavel is a Russian exchange student from Volgagrad here this semester and for a moment I wondered if they could see the moon in Russia, — that’s how sleep deprived I was, and am, at that hour.)  So I doused the lights and we admired it, hanging in the sky, right over the bank.

The moon and its planetary companions were the pre-talk of Morning Yoga.

Jean-Anne thought the planet might be Venus.  I said it was either Venus or Serena, I could never really tell them apart.

Even though I SHOULD be able to tell them apart because I got no less than an “A” in Astronomy.  And not only that, I was excused from the Astronomy final because my average in Astronomy was astronomically high.

But godforbid me for saying this: I hated Astronomy –except for the starry nights when Professor Mike would bring his telescope up to the football practice field and we would all take turns looking through, and marveling at, the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter and the craters on the Moon.

Astronomy was tough.  It drove me crazy.  I hated every second of it, even the classes when we got to stare up into the dark night of the planetarium and follow Professor Mike’s pointer as he talked about “the ecliptic” which I still, to this day, do not understand.

Professor Mike was droll and dry.  He would insult the schmendricks in the class (and there were hundreds of them) and they would just laugh, not even realizing they’d just been called idiots.

I remember he said that he bought his wife The Old Farmer’s Almanac every year for Christmas.  (I remember thinking to myself: “Buddy, that better not be ALL you bought her for Christmas, ‘cause you ain’t that good lookin’”)

This morning, as Venus and Regulus flirted with the tiniest sliver of the Moon in the clear, cold September sky, Professor Mike died.

I feel really, really sad.  But what a pretty night to die.  I think he is probably enjoying his new view from beyond the ecliptic.

‘night, Professor Mike.

10 thoughts on “Professor Mike

  1. He was my across the street neighbor for a lot of years. His son and I graduated from high school together. I never had the pleasure of taking one of his classes. I tried, when I went to Mansfield, but my timing was off and he was on sabbatical. I didn’t get to take his astronomy class. He was a very nice and funny man and he will be missed.


  2. Kath,

    Thank you for the wonderful post. It’s been a while since I visited here–I’ll be better about that.

    I never had a class with Prof. Mike, but, like Jeff, I went to school with his son, Mike–who graduated a year after my class, and I’m still sporadically in touch with his daughter, Delia.

    I, too, loved the stars, and judging by the response I’ve seen in the last few days to Prof. Mike’s passing, he must have been a great guy. We should all somehow aspire to be so inspiring to others.


    1. Oh Sophie, I am sorry for your loss. But it must help that your grandfather is remembered so fondly by so many. Much love to you. Kath


    2. Sophie,
      I know Rob already said it during rehearsal, but I again want to tell you how much we admire your strength and fortitude in continuing with Our Town rehearsals, knowing how difficult it must have been. I know when I lost my grandparents, it took awhile for me to stop being sad and angry for what I had lost and to instead start to remember and be thankful for the time that I did have with them. But what a beautiful reminder you have that your grandfather will always be with you! Every time you step outside and see the night sky full of stars, you will feel his embrace.

      With love and admiration,


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