One of the memorable and haunting songs in Lin Manual’s Hamiliton is Who Lives Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.
For Carrie Trauth, it is no question about who will tell her story.
Over the final weeks of Carrie’s life, family and many, many friends have been telling their stories about her, about what she has meant to each of us, how close so many of us felt to her, how important she was in so many of our lives.
It may not always be the exact same story, but what is being told has similar themes: her importance to her family, her compassion and caring for others, including animals, her nurturing kindness, her toughness, her consistency, her mentorship, her leadership, her remembrance of birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, her laughter, her genuine interest in others, and, above all, her friendship.
Some biographical information tells just one story about her.
Carrie began her career as a staff nurse at the Washington Hospital Center. She then worked at The Psychiatric Institute of Washington as a staff nurse, assistant head nurse, assistant to the Training Director, and then as the Clinical Coordinator of their day school in Rockville, MD.
In 1975, Carrie was one of the founders of The Frost School and of The Family Foundation, Inc. She had many roles at the school, including being its Clinical Director. She was the team leader for our first high school program, then for our middle school, and then for our elementary school. After retiring from Frost, Carrie continued to return to the school to assist in nursing duties and to give workshops to staff.
At the Foundation she was the Secretary and then Vice President and was a leader in our granting process over the past 15 years. She was an active member of her synagogue and of numerous state and national professional organizations.
For me, Carrie was many things: she was a partner in everything I did professionally since 1971. She taught me about what was important with working with kids and family with problems. She played a key role with the founders of Frost & the Foundation, always bringing her perspective to whatever issue we discussed, problems we were trying to solve, and decisions we had to make. She was fully present at all times. She was a trusted ally and therapist to every student and family with whom she worked. In addition, she was a mentor to many younger staff members and a model to all.
Carrie was all those things everyone has been recounting in the past week – kind, compassionate, caring, engaged, nurturing, strong, and, by example, taught me about friendship and how one individual can have an impact on so many others.
Carrie did all of those things, and many more. She was the first person Ellen I trusted to take care of our first born overnight when we had to be away for one night. That daughter, Annie, is now in her early 40s and has gotten a birthday card every one of those years, as have Annie’s children, and we have received similar cards every year.
Until the last several weeks of her life, she continued to be a touchstone for me whenever I called her, needed to discuss Foundation issues, and most importantly, when I needed her thoughts and advice on whatever was concerning me.
And when I saw her just two days before her death, her first words were, “Rick, thank you for coming,” and final words were, “I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had a good life.”
There is no doubt that Carrie’s many, many friends, family, and people she touched will continue to tell her story and keep alive many of the lessons she taught all of us.
She made the world a better place.