Mrs. T Is No More


My friend Terry Teachout has let us all know that his wife, Hilary Dyson Teachout, has died after her long ordeal. It makes the heart sick to learn the news–it reminds me, the poet said, it is a fearful thing to love what death may touch.

Love is a daring wish for immortality, perfection, completion: I reach out to another being, more precious to me than life, and reach up to the heavens at the same time, as though winged: To love is to learn to die.

I have a few things to say by way of eulogy. Terry has shown us more nobly than anyone I know what it means to hold on to the blessings of love in face of that danger of losing all we treasure. Year after year, crisis after crisis, Hilary was his beloved Mrs. T, fearfully fragile, but astonishingly graceful in the face of death.

Now that she has died, the hidden daring with which she faced every suffering, recovering, and trying again, up to the ordeal of surgery, is obvious to all: A strength of character we can only wish for and admire in someone who never demanded or expected that admiration which she so well deserved.

We should remember Hilary, as Terry described her, lovingly, with discretion and art, suggesting through brief stories how wonderful the woman was and what happiness she had to bestow. We must therefore mourn–suffer along with Terry, and know that the price of nobility has been paid.

I only met Hilary once. Terry told me to take the A train, come record a podcast one afternoon, and welcomed me to his dwelling. Hilary made me feel at home, amused to meet a young man of whom Terry had spoken well — she was confident, pleasant, smiling. It was a scene of domestic happiness movies somehow fail to capture, because you have to witness it, and I was reassured I was no intruder.

I lack the talent to describe the gracious way Hilary had, to brush away all thought of pain, the oxygen the only reminder of death. Hilary wasn’t pretending to enjoy life, including small surprises like me showing up one afternoon looking like the belle epoque, but genuinely enjoyed it all. Perhaps it was simply her happy nature; perhaps her spiritedness added something to it, in spite of suffering. That one memory of Hilary I recur to whenever I talk to Terry, or we correspond, or I read his reports of the agony and the grace. So I share it with you.

I don’t know anyone who deserves his friends more than Terry. It is right to suffer along with him as we also rejoice in him. God bless!

For my part, I raise my glass and drink to Hilary’s memory and Terry’s grief. It’s noble to suffer well, since suffering is our lot.

This is the podcast we recorded that afternoon:


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There are 11 comments.

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  1. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow

    Beautifully said.  I clink my glass against yours.

    • #1
  2. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad

    From another Mrs. T, may she rest in peace. May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

    I will quibble with your title and say that while she is gone from this earthly life, I hold hopes of meeting her in the next life. May it be so!

    • #2
  3. Seawriter Contributor

    Ouch. I feel for Terry. He has lost half of himself.

    Memory eternal.

    • #3
  4. ddavewes Member

    It’s been heartbreaking reading Terry’s chronicle of Mrs. T’s struggles. She was long awaiting a double-lung transplant and finally received one several weeks ago. She unfortunately didn’t survive the ordeal.

    All the best, Terry

    • #4
  5. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    I wrote the eulogy here & on social media, since I know Terry has admirers & well-wishers on Ricochet, not just Twitter, where he holds, so to speak, an arts & all matters music salon…

    I know he will be grateful for all of us condoling with him now that he has lost the love of his life.

    • #5
  6. Stad Coolidge

    Such sorrow.  Prayers . . .

    • #6
  7. Theodoric of Freiberg Member
    Theodoric of Freiberg

    Sorry to hear this sad news.

    • #7
  8. Zach H. Inactive
    Zach H.

    RIP Mrs. T. As far as I know, I’ve never cried over the death of a stranger till yesterday. Mr. T’s blog and Twitter feed made me feel as if I knew him & his beloved. In a time of such profound grief, it is comforting to see him surrounded by so many friends and well-wishers.

    • #8
  9. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad

    Zach H. (View Comment):
    I’ve never cried over the death of a stranger till yesterday.

    Being a certified sap, I cried twice in the last two days over the death of strangers, Mrs. T here and Tomie dePaola, a wonderfully and deceptively simple children’s author and illustrator. I wept gallons yesterday morning when I learned of his death because he gave us so much joy and laughter. 

    • #9
  10. Belt Inactive

    On weekends I read Teachout’s blog, so I’ve been aware of their struggles.  I’ve always appreciated his perspective and insight.  My condolences to him.

    • #10
  11. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…

    Having read his column and blog for many years and listening to him on your podcasts, Terry has always struck me, beyond just his talent, as a generous spirit and Mrs T seemed the same.  They were meant for each other.  I’m usually not this affected by people I don’t know personally but this is an exception.

    • #11
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