Friday, August 04, 2006

the long goodbye

Roadtripping to Gloucester, VA to say goodbye to Kathryn. See you on Monday.

p.s. Merle Greene Robertson, the Grand Dame of Mayan studies, posted a very dear note about Kathryn on Mesoweb. The link is not a permalink, so I’ve pasted it in below too to keep it handy. As my sweetie said when I shared it with him: “Nice remembrance. And she was just like that, too.”

* * *

The sad and shocking news is that Kathryn Josserand passed away at Palenque on the evening of July 19th of what is reported to have been a massive brain hemorrhage while taking a shower before dinner. She was 64 years old, at the height of her illustrious career, way too young to have been taken away. As soon as the Mexican papers are finalized, Nick will take her to Gloucestor, Virginia, where she will be buried in the Hopkins family plot at Ware Episcopal Church.

Kathryn and Nick had been in Mexico for a month taking three students around for orientation and writing up some of the Chol material with the long-time friend and co-worker Ausencio "Chencho" Cruz, who is also a friend of everyone who has ever been to a Palenque Mesa Redonda, and my constant assistant during all of my work at Palenque.

Kathryn's part in the Mesas Redondas de Palenque was significant—from presenting papers, to the Spanish sessions given by Kathryn and Nick every afternoon in the town for the citizens of Palenque. How they loved this. It just shows one of the many ways that she gave of herself on her own time, just because she wanted to help others.

Kathryn had a Fulbright Fellowship to do six months of research in Guatemala. She and Nick were to leave for Antigua at the beginning of January where they would have a large house to be be headquarters for this study.

Kathryn will forever be remembered for her selfless giving of herself to others. The way she took over when I had two broken elbows and my husband Bob died at the same time, is friendship way beyond what could be expected of friendship. Nick told me that just a couple of weeks ago they went to Bob's grave in the Palenque cemetary to see if it was cared for. It was not, so they had more dirt filled in the plot, everything cleaned up and flowers planted. Just another example.

Then just a week ago on the way home from Uxmal, they stopped to see Willie Folan in Campeche, where he was in the final throes of writing a paper for the ICA conference in Seville, Spain. Instead of proceeding directly home to Palenque as was the plan, Kathryn spent several hours making Folan's text intelligible to the ordinary human. I could go on and on about her "giving to others."

The last time I saw Kathryn was at the Annual Texas meetings in Austin in March. My memories of her, however, will be of so many wonderful times we had together at Palenque, cooking Thanksgiving dinner for what must have been half of Palenque, getting together with Chencho putting Chol names on all of the trees and plants, and just sitting on the back patio of Na Chan-Bahlum with good friends having rum and coke and discussing everything about Palenque.

Merle's Corner, Mesoweb

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