My Aunt Trudy passed away on Wednesday 🙁 I don’t know who Jacky, who wrote this, is but…

Screaming sirens of police and ambulance reverberating around Kini in mid-morning, first alerted us all that something was wrong. In a few minutes that combination of telephone, email and Syros grapevine spread the sad news. Trudy had been found dead in her bath. Her friends and acquaintances are shocked, they cannot believe it. How could someone who ran towards and embraced life at such full tilt, die in this way. But as the days pass, funeral arrangements are made and family summoned from America, we begin to realize that it’s true.

Trudy will leave a hole in many lives. She was an energetic dynamo rushing from one project to the next, exhausting her helpers and friends and bulldozing her way through problems. She added colour to our lives with her myriad ideas and restless energy. Her causes were many and varied. She started and was still working on a local breast cancer awareness campaign, she ‘cleaned up’ Kini on many occasions, working with children in local schools to raise environmental awareness. In this year’s carnival, she had made, a ‘Mother earth’ costume and paraded through the streets of Ano Syros spreading her message, later taking it into Syros schools. Her passion for animals that led to an early cat neutering programme caused a lot of ill-feeling among the villagers, but she carried on, getting traps and cages imported from Germany and inviting charity vets to stay. We were all press-ganged into action to help catch and nurse the recovering animals. She would not take no for an answer. Woe betide anyone who left a dog on a short lead or without water and she’d almost physically attack hunters when she came across them on her walks. Meanwhile she and Kuriakos dog-napped a beautiful collie that was being mistreated in Crete; Lassie had a long and happy life with them. Cats arrived regularly; they knew where the food and medical treatment was good.

Born in Germany and emigrating to the States with her parents when she was a child, she developed a facility for languages, so she could communicate with everybody; most recently teaching herself Spanish, to volunteer at hostels on the pilgrimage trail to Santiago, where she walked a different portion each year and made friends from all around the world.

Although she had lived in many different places, Trudy’s base was Kini, where she had just built a roof garden, experimenting with hydroponics and a vegetable garden nearby, to grow organic fruit and vegetables. She travelled at every opportunity, visiting friends, volunteering at the Tiger Temple in Thailand, running a Christmas party in Goa for the children of migrants, raising money to bring water to a Zimbabwean village and while working in Saudi, collecting and transporting clothes and blankets for Kurdish refugees, for which she won a United Nations award.

She searched for ideas too, visiting John of God in Brazil, Amma’s ashram in Kerala, Brahma Kumari retreats – some of them silent – how did she do that? She was always first in line with any visiting guru or group; hungry for new teachings. But she also joined practical things; Greek language and dancing, film evenings and more mundane events such as bazaars and dog shows. She was forever clearing out holding garage sales for her charities, but however much she sold, it didn’t seem to make much impact on the amount of things overflowing from cupboards and drawers.

Accidents were a feature of her life, as the scrapes on her car demonstrate, but a serious fall from her roof, several years ago, failed to slow her energy, even though she had to stay flat on her back for three months. Driving with her was scary, in her car or motorhome; there were just too many distractions along the way!

Her style of eating was to graze; nuts, fruits, vegetables, popcorn. She didn’t eat meat or drink alcohol, but was in to every faddy diet imaginable to detox and keep fit. However, her walking speed and daily treks to Delphini ensured she didn’t put on weight. She’d often stop by on her way home, reluctant to be an uninvited guest for dinner. When she acquiesced, which she nearly always did, she’d feast with gusto, happily coming back for second and third helpings.

Trudy had a big heart. She’d always help out and get more and more frenzied as she got busier and busier with tasks she had promised to do. She knew everyone and was always late because she met and talked to so many people along the way. Only pint-sized, she was fearless, there was nothing and no-one she wouldn’t tackle as the many scars she bore from ungrateful animals testified.

She hosted many parties; loving to put on a German-style Christmas Eve celebration. She filled the place with hundreds of candles and caused fires on more than one occasion. Easter was good with her too; up to Anastasi armed with candles, sparklers and ear-plugs for the midnight celebration, then roasting lamb the next day, overlooking the sea in Dani – although she never ate any.

She lived almost on the beach, but hated sand, fussed about getting her hair wet, wore bright colours, lots of jewellery and strappy sandals when she wasn’t hiking, causing her to trip over regularly. She was noisy at a party or in a group and spoke rapidly to get her ideas across. But the ramifications of her death are being felt everywhere. Who will tell us which films are on, who will organize the group for the next International Women’s Day, who will care for the stray animals of Kini, the ducks on the beach? And across the world, what about those children she was supporting, the prisoners she was writing to and the Zimbabwean school needing books and a fresh water supply?

We can’t begin to fill the gap she has left, but maybe together, we can help some of her ideas live on and move forward, carrying on her positive attitude and approach, anywhere she saw a need. So ‘Bon voyage’ Trudy, wherever you are – we’ll miss you and our worlds will be less colourful without you.

‘Never send to know for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for thee.’

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