That's Amy

As delivered by Marty Abbott at Amy’s Memorial Service:

How many times have each of us said, or thought that about our dear friend Amy Ann High. It was Amy’s unique approach to life that made her so special to all of us—her ability to bring light into a room and touch our lives in magical ways.

De gustibus non disputandum est. (There’s no arguing about taste).

No one could put an outfit together like Amy—whatever she wore was a sight to behold—and she, always so comfortable in her own skin, in her own creations, in her own assortment of clothes and accessories. She delighted in dressing up, whether in a casual sun dress to soak in the Italian sun or an ensemble of colors no one else would have ever thought to put together—or the breathtaking dress she wore on her wedding day—or standing at my door with the kids who were sometimes dressed up just as fashionably as their Mom. It always made us smile and say, “That’s Amy!” And Tim encouraged and promoted her zany way of dressing. Just two weeks ago she proudly showed me her latest acquisition—a gift from Tim—an outrageous looking purse that seemed to be still half alive. Tim, knew how much Amy would delight in showing it off—and Amy always able to pull it off.

That’s Amy.

I had the great privilege of watching Amy teach. First in her high school classroom—and I marveled at the way she made each student feel that he or she had something worthy to contribute to the class. And the way she made the Latin language come alive for the students—never a dull compendium of grammar rules. Amy taught Latin as a living language—as though people had really used this language to communicate. It was amazing to watch her. And then I saw her teach in our Fairfax elementary program at Providence Elementary—and I saw the magical way she engaged the students by dressing in Roman garb and entering the classroom greeting the students in Latin creating such excitement in the kids as she brought them this gift of language—this gift of Latin which she loved so much—a pro populo program.

All kids succeeded because she made them believe they could—and she made it possible for them to do so. Possunt quia possunt videntur. They were able to succeed because she made them believe they could. Amy and the program received national recognition in Time magazine and were featured on Oxygen Cable network—each time leaving reporters breathless in the expansiveness of her influence, in the extent of the impact of her teaching.

And with the students she tutored— she was completely committed to their success—painstakingly explaining, encouraging and putting them on the road to learning—and in her role in the National Latin Exam Forum Romanum video series as co-host with John Donohue in her character as Iulia Pauli—the only video series using oral Latin available to teachers in this country. She made Latin come alive and will continue to make Latin come alive for thousands of Latin students across the United States.

And finally creating the little school with Ann to enrich the lives of the children who attended in so many ways with languages, music and math and art taught so skillfully by her brother Mike.

That’s Amy.

Amy’s life changed on May 15, 1992 when she met Tim Gale. Together they created a strong and loving marriage—and together they built a family. And then we saw Amy the mother—reveling so in the birth and growth of each child—creating magical moments for them—each outing an adventure--whether loading them up in the car to go to the favorite coffeehouse of the day—or over to Invision to get hair cuts for all—or figuring out yet another way to teach them new things about the world, about language, about life—she enjoyed being with the children. 

That’s Amy.

Amy’s sudden death has left a deep void in our lives. “Infandum dolorem” was how the poet Vergil described what we feel. Unspeakable grief.  As we try to go on from here, we will doubtless be reminded in many ways at many moments of Amy--of her love of life, her unique way of doing things and of dressing, her devotion to her children, to Tim, to her mother and father and brothers, and her friends, of so many ways she enriched our lives and we will be sad—but in these Amy moments, let us remember to smile and say out loud—

That’s Amy. That’s our dear Amy.

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