Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mrs. Trusch

Friday, before the tornado and before my daughter's incredible basketball game, I made a long overdue trip to the nursing home to visit a local legend by the name of Mrs. Trusch.

If you attended Mathews High School any time between the 1950s and the early 1980s, you know Mrs. Trusch. She taught my father; she taught me; she taught everyone.   Although petite in stature, she ruled her classroom like nobody I've ever seen.  She expected nothing but courtesy, respect, and undivided attention from her students. 

And they gave it to her, willingly.

Her undying enthusiasm and passion for government and politics was contagious.  She made us want to learn.

But Mrs. Trusch's legendary status isn't solely attributed to her incredible knowledge inside the classroom.

She's also an important part of our local history, brimming with stories. 

In my book on Mathews, she's mentioned on page 77:

"Bavon Post Office, built around 1920 and established by Norman Burroughs in 1935, was at the corner of Routes 14 and 600 near the lighthouse.  The store and post office served as a primary source of communication with the outside world and, at one time, had the community's only telephone.  Burroughs's daughter, Marion Grey Trusch, served as a teacher in Mathews for approximately 30 years.  Today, the cheerful beacon still shines for visitors coming to or from the lighthouse."

Mrs. Trusch,  my favorite high school teacher, made a lifelong impression on me.  So I was very pleased to mention her. 

About a month after the book was released, I received the following note in the mail:

"Dear CBW,
I received a copy of your 'Mathews County' for Christmas. I would like to compliment you on this very outstanding work. It has given me hours of enjoyment.I am especially grateful to you for mentioning my name in the write up of Bavon, and my 30 years of teaching at M.H.S.

Happy New Year and continue with your writing. You have a great talent.

-Marion G. Trusch"

She's telling me that I have talent? You could have knocked me over with a feather.

So I decided to stop in and say hello and let her know how much that note meant.  

My high school classmate Johnny Pugh, also a wealth of local information, called just as I was pulling into the nursing home parking lot.  Knowing he was just down the road, I asked if he wanted to join me, and he did.

What a marvelous visit it was! She and Johnny told tales about Bavon; we delved into politics (her favorite subject); she asked about any future projects of mine; and she gave a glimpse into the more humorous side of nursing home life.

One such story involves her late-night walks.  She enjoys walking for exercise every day but finds that the only time she can do so without interruptions is after 10:00 p.m. when most of the other residents have gone to sleep.  

She used to go earlier in the day, when the hallways were lined with patients who often flagged her down for this or that or simply to chat. Mrs. Trusch, who has all her wits and then some about her, is often interacting with residents who suffer from Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.

A recent episode illustrates why walking later at night is probably the only way for her to get any exercise. Three different people stopped her before she could get very far down the first hallway:

Resident #1, who is 100 (literally!) years old, seeing Mrs. Trusch approaching: "Hey, can you bring my car around? I need to get out of here."

Mrs. Trusch, playing along: "Sure! Can I come too?"

Resident #1: "Of course, just hurry up and get my car."

Mrs. Trusch keeps on walking until she comes upon Resident #2.

Resident #2:  "Is there a teacher's meeting today?"

Mrs. Trusch, again playing along: "No, not today."

She kept walking a little further and came upon someone she knows well.

Mrs. Trusch, to Resident #3, who was sitting in the hallway:  "Good Morning!  How are you?"

Resident #3, perhaps a little paranoid, obviously not aware of precisely who she was talking to, and clearly not having a good day:  "Aw, go to hell!!"

We cracked up in hysterics.  The very teacher who commanded so much respect extends a simple "Good morning" and is met with "Go to hell!" We were very amused. But now we understand why Mrs. Trusch walks at night.

It was a pleasure and an honor to meet with Mrs. Trusch, who has touched the lives of so many. Thanks also to Johnny Pugh for joining me on this little adventure.

Mrs. Trusch and J.P.


Kay L. Davies said...

I understand why she does it, too. Visiting my parents in different parts of the same care facility, I was often stopped by other residents. The ones in Mom's wing wanted to chat. The ones in the dementia unit where my dear dad was were a little more difficult. They'd grab my arm and say, "Come look at this" and that was on a good day!
Wonderful that Mrs. Trusch has her wits about her and a good understanding of her fellow residents.
Fabulous for you to have a visit with her and another friend. I'm so pleased.

mom3ler said...

None compares to Mrs. Trusch! She still exhorts her students. What a remarkable lady and a role model for all teachers.

Pearlhunter said...

What a wonderful memory you've just brought back to me, Janice. I think of Mrs. Trusch often and what an impact she has made on me as well. She and Mrs. McDaniel were my favorite teachers ever. Mrs. Trusch - just as you said - ruled the room with an expectation of respect. For a woman of such small physical stature, her presence in the classroom was huge.

Maria_NJ said...

Life is mostly froth and bubble, Two things stand like stone, Kindness in .... And the third is to be kind. .... I've learned.... that the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.(to the person who wrote this quote, I'm sorry that I could not find your name and give you the honor for it...)

well isn't she dear...that CBW was a very kind thing to do, but I can tell that is your style...

I love old people, they are so very dear, they put in there time and deserve every minute of respect, too bad this country doesn't take better care of them...

Daryl Edelstein said...

What a great post .. how lovely to meet Mrs Trusch and JP ...

growing wild on waverly lane said...

Great post! Older folks are an unlimited gold mine of experiences and teachers help make us who we are. They envision who we will become and sooner or later we become it.

What a great layer to your work of words.

Anonymous said...

Omg memories. I have never met a teacher who commanded such respect....amazing woman. She still looks the same! My two favorite teachers were she and Mrs mcdaniels. So many great teachers there....another favorite was Mr.brown....hmmm CBW, I seem to recall some good times there *grin* by the way, Mrs. Trusch was right...the book is fantastic and you DO have a great talent! -Msseabreeze

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading your daily glimpses into life in Mathews country. I lived in Peary for 2 1/2 years--left in the middle of my senior year--would have graduated from Mathews HS with the class of 1978. Ms. Trusch's brother, Captain Warren, lived next door to us. I loved her as a government teacher and loved her brother and his wife, Laila, as neighbors. They were so kind to us.
Thank you for sharing your blog!


P.S. I still fondly remember the rolls from the cafeteria and the pork barbeque! Wish I had the recipes.

Country Girl said...

I enjoyed this post immensely. Bravo to Mrs. Trusch for letting you know how proud of you she still is.

Dghawk said...

What a wonderful day you had! A lively visit with your former teacher, and then CB Daughter's final victorious B-ball game. She reminds me of my late Mother-in-law. Mom Hawkins wasn't a teacher, but she was a head nurse at Eastern State for ages. Never met a stranger, and if you liked to play poker...all the better. Cheers to you!

Anonymous said...

I have a proposition for Donald Trump and his luxury hotels...why doesn't he start a chain of luxury suites for retired teachers, medical staffers, firefighters (and others who devote their lives to civic service) and they can turn the whole thing into a reality show ? Those who are still active and 'sharp of mind' should not be in nursing homes--as Mrs. Trusch illustrates. I worked in a rest home when I was 18, and I can imagine how much the staff treasures Mrs. T.
I do wish though, that there could be other living accommodations and meaningful ways people like your former teacher could interact and contribute to her community.

Meg McCormick said...

Aw, this is just priceless. God bless her, and God bless you, too!

Robert Julian Braxton said...

Think I might have known Johnny Pugh - at Pugh planing mill (lumber), Hudgins - long since closed - as both his mother and father, I assume, have died.