Saturday, April 6, 2013

Remembering My Mentor, Trudy

1. Trudy and me 2008-kab Kathie and Trudy July 2008

I first met Trudy smith when I was 16 years old. She gave me my first bird guide. She showed me the birds in a way no one else had ever shown them to me. Trudy was a nurse, and an ornithologist. I helped her catch and band birds at a bible camp in New Hampshire. She was the first woman I had ever met who loved nature as much as I did. She wasn’t afraid of snakes or lizards or frogs. She saw God’s beauty in all the world around her and she loved to share her love of nature and God with others. Trudy was 50 years old when I first met her. I was amazed that someone that old could hike up Mount Washington with me. Now that I am in my fifties, I am still amazed! I remember her climbing the trail and looking left and right and all around for birds, lichens, flowers, anything. Her curiosity was endless; her energy boundless.

2. Trudy 2008-kab Trudy in front of her house in Connecticut, July 2008

Even at the age of 98, Trudy still kept and maintained her bird feeders. When I was there in 2008 we visited for awhile, then we went out to dinner together with her husband, Earl. He was going blind, so she was his eyes, and he was her ears!

3. Trudy and Earl 2008-kab Trudy and Earl Smith

Because, you see, one of the most amazing things about Trudy was that she was deaf. She lost her hearing as a child from an illness and never got it back. So, though she loved the birds, she could never hear them sing! From her I learned patience and not to fear someone who is different or handicapped. Since Trudy did learn to read lips, I only had to touch her arm when I wanted to speak to her, but then I had to remember not to look away! She needed to see my mouth move to understand what I was saying! In spite of her hearing loss, she never seemed handicapped to me at all! I only saw Trudy one more time after this, in 2010, when Gus and I moved back east for two years. He took me to see her in September of that year, and though she was still strong, I could tell her memory was fading as she tried to remember me. Still, as I hugged her and cried I could still fell her love for me coming through the clouds of her memory. A year later I started to feel like she was gone, but with Mom’s cancer and other things going on in my life I didn’t check up on it. I was afraid to know the truth. finally, right before we moved back to Tucson I could bear it no longer and I googled her name. It took me awhile but I finally found out that she passed away in the spring of 2011. She was 102 years old! This month is National Poetry Month, and I have been participating in NaPoWriMo 2013 exercise to write 30 poems in 30 days. When I read the prompt for today was to write a Valediction, which is a poem of farewell or good-bye, Trudy was the first one to spring to my mind. I decided to write this post today and post my poem here, because Trudy was MY birding mentor. Without her they might not be a Kathie’s Birds! This is my way of bidding her farewell!

4. Trudy-kab Trudy sitting in her living room signing a book for me.

A Valediction for my Mentor

Even now I see your face Faded blue eyes shining with Joy As you show me the oriole on your feeder.

Long ago you nurtured -this bird love in my heart, --this God love in my heart, --this love for all of nature.

I remember the last time I saw you, shrunken and gnome-like with the pink, leathery skin of old age, Yet eyes that still shone like a child’s.

Oh how I loved you, and love you still. I think of you now like a constant thing, Like birds, and God’s Love.

I knew the last time I saw you It would be our last good-bye, You were 101 then—time had run out on you. I hugged you tight while tears streamed down my face in a flood.

I could tell I was but a faded memory In your aged mind, but, you still loved me, you still loved God, and you still loved the birds.

I wanted to hold you so tight as if my love could keep you from the inevitable.

How is it that you are gone from this life, yet still so alive in my heart?

In the birds I see everyday —I see you, —I see Love.

If parting is such sweet sorrow, then remembering is sweeter still, and saying Good-bye is but a brief moment in time.

(For Trudy Smith)

~Kathie Adams Brown (April 6, 2013)

5. Trudy-kab

30 comments:

  1. Hi Kathie

    A lovely tribute to your friend. It sounds like she brought a lot of joy to your life.

    All the best.
    Guy

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    1. Guy, she not only brought Joy, she brought Love! I miss her so much!

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  2. Kathie dear, I am so sorry you have lost this wonderful mentor who helped to shape your life so much. I am so grateful to her for awakening the woman that you are today with so much bird knowledge and so much love for all things.
    This is truly a lovely tribute to her and to you.

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    1. Arija, thank you dear friend. She was an amazing woman!

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  3. What a special tribute to a special lady. I could use your poem as a description of my dear nature and bird loving Grandma except she died at 94 years. It is a rare day that I do not think of her. I was 17 and she was 77 when she took me on a long hike at low tide to Percé Rock in Quebec to find sea birds. I wish I had appreciated that special event more at the time.

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    1. Ruth, how we miss these wonderful people! I am glad you had a Grandma who showed you nature. I am glad you even have this memory. Obviously it has blossomed in your soul and help shape the person you are today! We are both blessed to have had these women in our lives!

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  4. What a wonderful dedication to a very special lady. One of the hardest things to do is watch the people who have touched our lives get older. I expect them to stay the same age and NEVER grow old. Very Peter Pan I suppose. My mentors in Spanish are now all retired and I can't believe it! It's like a cycle. As one of my mentors once told me, "It's passing on the torch." Today I still have several of her activities and share those stories with this generation of kids. Beautifully written. And for what it's worth, I view you as a mentor and friend whether you know it or not:) I wouldn't be able to do the things I do now if you hadn't shown me the way. So thank you.

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    1. Chris, I feel honored to even be considered a mentor and it is my pleasure to show you the birding world! I love to share! Thank you! I am glad that you are my friend and my birding buddy!

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  5. What a wonderful tribute to Trudy, she had a long wonderful life and she shared so much with you. You touched my heart,

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    1. wovenspokem, that is the best thing that I could ask for! Thanks for saying this!

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  6. Wow Kathie!

    Beautiful, poignant, and moving all together.
    Your valediction is wonderful.

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    1. Laurence, that is high praise from you. Thank you!

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  7. So beautifully written from the heart, where Trudy has left her loving mark. How wonderful to have her in your life.

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    1. Gaelyn, you said it well! (BTW, I like the little couplet you snuck in there!)

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  8. What a beautiful valediction to Trudy. It would be wonderful to have such a good mentor.

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    1. prairie birder, it was truly wonderful!

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  9. I have one mentor who is woman in her 80's that has battling cancer for the last few years. She still stays involved with birding,even through all of her treatments. I'm sorry your friend is gone but what an amazing life and a great tribute to her!

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    1. Larry, I wish you could have met her. She lived near Mystic, CT! She was amazing!

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  10. What a beautiful way to remember someone so special to you Kathie. Your love shines through your words.

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    1. Celeste, I am so glad that you could feel it!

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  11. Such a beautiful tribute for an obviously beautiful human being. A true mentor indeed. Thanks Kathie!

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    1. Thank you Raymond! A.K.A Troutbirder! (I read your comment below. Who knows how this wacky internet works!)

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  12. Huh? That was me in the previous comment. Don't know how that happened...

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    1. Thanks for the clarification, Raymond!

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  13. What a wonderful tribute for someone so special. We do not often have ones like this in our lives.

    I know how much you treasure her. Truly a lovely lady.

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    1. Thanks Kathryn! She was very special!

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  14. Oh, Kathie. This was a beautifully sweet and tender and wonderful post. Trudy was, without a doubt, an inspirational and amazing woman. Your poem was moving and heartfelt.

    I am so glad to hear your mother won her battle with cancer. It's funny how you said that my illustration reminded you of her. It is a portrait of a dear friend who passed away a few years ago after losing her own battle with breast cancer. Still, it brought me happiness to remember her, and I'm happy that it brought you sweet memories too.

    xo

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    1. Oh, Bella! That makes it even more special! Thanks for telling me that! Next time I am in CT, I will show that illustration to my mom!

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  15. Such a beautiful tribute for your friend Kathie, I'm glad she touched your life so we have Kathie's Birds today.

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  16. Hi Katie...Such precious memories!! What a wonderful mentor this sweet lady was to you !!
    Your valediction to her was lovely!!
    Grace

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Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.