16 February 2009

Farewell to a Friend

It does not make me at all happy to open the newspaper, be working my way through it, and discover the passing of a person who was a light in so many people's lives. 

Dr. Hilary Thompson taught in the English Department at Acadia University when I was there. If people have a colour around them, Hilary's was all colours of the rainbow. She reflected joy--she emanated joy, a zest for living, a kindness to all, a delectable sense of humour. 

She wasn't one of my professors in that I didn't take a course from her. But she was one of my teachers in that her constant positive attitude in the department was a joy to behold and to absorb. Occasionally we had tea together, or joined the department secretary (aptly named Joy) for that particular break, shared stories about cats and plants, laughed and chattered like friends do. I remember Hilary showing huge compassion to students, including to me when I was coping with being a master's student and a single parent. It used to delight us to see her coming off the elevator from teaching a class, carrying puppets or masks or other trappings that she used in her course on children's literature. Her office was festooned with these colourful, happy reflections of Hilary's passion for writing, reading, and teaching. 

I learned of Hilary's illness only a couple of weeks ago, when I met her and her beloved husband Ray in the radiology department of the hospital. Preoccupied with the book I was reading and not so quick to focus when I look up, I didn't recognize her initially, until she spoke and smiled at me from her wheelchair. I was shocked when she told me of the brain tumour, but she faced it with far more grace and courage than many would. Including me, I'm sure.

It's somewhat ironic, somewhat apt, that I wasn't able to go to her memorial service on Saturday--because I was teaching a weekly workshop class in writing to a group of adults who want to develop their passion for writing. 

Hilary, your light may be gone from the world, but the love of the word that you kindled in so many students over the years will blaze brightly on. Rest easy, dear teacher. 

(photo from flickr, with thanks)


  1. She sounds like she was a wonderful teacher, Jodi. I'm sure she will be missed by many.

  2. Jodi, a warm loving tribute to what sounds like a beautiful person. Some of us are indeed fortunate to have been touched by someone such as her. And they will stay with us all our lives. Thank you for sharing your dear friend.

  3. So sorry for the loss of your friend and professor. I am sure she will be missed by many.

  4. It is very difficult to say goodbye to someone who has had such a huge impact on our lives, but her light will stay with you forever, jodi.

  5. You've written a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to your joyful friend. How fortunate you were to have crossed paths with such a kind, encouraging person.
    So sad to lose her, but she'll live on in many hearts.

  6. Jodi,
    Lovely words you write here. I can tell how much Dr. Thompson meant to you. A well-written memorial.

  7. Hi Jodi, I'm glad you got to see Hilary before her passing and that she got to see you. Now her legacy will continue. Blessings to you. Grace

  8. What a nice tribute to a friend. From the sound of it, you are not the only one feeling her loss. Thank you for this post.

  9. What a lovely tribute to an inspiring woman Jodi. She sounds like a wonderful teacher, even though you never took one of her courses. What a blessing it was for you to have known her.

  10. A lovely tribute to your friend, Jodi; I am so sorry for your loss. To be remembered as a great teacher and as a good friend is a goal that many of us strive for; your friend obviously succeeded in doing just that.

  11. What a wonderful tribute. Isn't it great how special people live on in our memories and in the lives of those they came into contact with?

  12. I've always wondered at the passing of a great person like this teacher. I have wondered the number of people she touched along the way both directly and then indirectly. If we ask for a raise of hands it would be in the thousands. But i bet few take the time to write about it. Bravo on you Jodi. I enjoyed your take on her life and how it affected you.

  13. I'm so sorry to hear of her passing. She sounds like she was a real marvel - one of those inspiring people that gives everyone around a lift.


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