Miss Trudie was my son’s babysitter while I was on active duty . . . and for quite a while afterwards. Miss Trudie died of breast cancer in the summer of 2005.
Those are facts but they do nothing to explain the force of nature named Miss Trudie. Nor do they reveal that she was one of my best friends ever.
I can’t possibly eulogize Miss Trudie in one blog post. I wouldn’t even try. Others have already done this, and have done much better than I ever could.
So I will talk about Miss Trudie and her love of snow!
Miss Trudie loved Christmas and she loved snow.
Miss Trudie made a 2-3 month occasion of Christmas, doing her shopping in the middle of the night with her husband John. She did that because the middle of the night was, quite literally, the only time when her eight children and all of her extra children (like my son) didn’t usually need her on a moment-by-moment basis.
You see, Miss Trudie’s at-home daycare was a home away from home where every child was loved as an individual by a second mother. She always quietly supported moms, never trying to steal one ounce of their joy. I know that because I am quite sure my son took his first steps at her house while I was at work, yet she convinced me at the time (and never changed her story) that I arrived just as it happened for the first time!
We established a tradition on Christmas Eve, Miss Trudie and I. After our church’s midnight service, we would both sit up almost till dawn, wrapping presents. She did it because there were so many presents at her house, with a husband and eight children at home. I did it because my grandmother had always done it and . . . because it became fun to call Miss Trudie at 2 AM and talk to her, while sitting crosslegged on the carpet, cutting paper and lengths of ribbon.
The thing for which Miss Trudie is universally remembered, however, is her love of snow. She was like a kid in a toy store when it snowed. Since she was from New Jersey, transplanted to Virginia, it was easy to understand that.
She knew that Virginia snows are rare and don’t last long. So she would awaken her husband and children and take them out for a snowball fight and to build snowmen and snowforts . . . at 3:00 in the morning.
If there was not enough snow in their yard, they would drive to a park or to the local community college, where the snow would always accumulate.
They would also walk down the middle of the nearby roads when they were choked off by snow, making monuments to their merriment along the way.
All of this, sometimes, between 3 and 5 in the morning!
What a fun family in which to grow up, eh?
There will never be another Miss Trudie and I will miss her forever, particularly each Christmas Eve. We still go back to the midnight service at our former church, and hang out with Miss Trudie’s family afterwards. Sometimes we still go back to their house for a snack after the midnight service, as we did some years when Miss Trudie was still alive! Those years, I would call Miss Trudie super late!
Yes, there will never be another Miss Trudie. Her children, however, have all continued the tradition of playing in the snow in the middle of the night and, since six of them live within walking distance of their father (or with him), they do that together.
Thus the enclosed photograph, taken last night during the latest Virginia Beach snowstorm!!! Love this family!