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:
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.|