Thursday, June 29, 2017


Today I said goodbye to one of the finest educators and one of the finest human beings I have ever known. Twila Norman was my boss when I first came to my district. At that time, she was the first female African American Assistant Superintendent in the District. She was a brilliant educator, someone who was always, always, always about what was best for teachers and kids. She was also a wise and classy lady with incredible people skills.  I learned so much in the five years I worked for her, and she also became a dear friend. About two weeks ago, she suffered a massive stroke and passed away. Her godson read this poem at her funeral today, and I was struck by how perfectly it captured her life's work. I'm posting this today in her honor.

After you read this, over to read some more great poetry at Random Noodling.

The Bridge Builder

Related Poem Content Details

An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
Source: Father: An Anthology of Verse (EP Dutton & Company, 1931)


Ramona said...

An educator who was always about what was best for students and teachers and wise and classy to boot! You were lucky to know this fine person. Her photo exudes the goodness that you've written about her life. What a blessing it is to meet and interact with educators like Twila.

Tabatha said...

Brought a tear to my eye, Carol. Sorry to hear of your loss. The value of having the perfect poem for occasions like this can't really be overstated.

Diane Mayr said...

This is the third time this morning I've been brought to tears. Comfort to you in the loss of your friend. Take up the hammer.

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

Awww, that is such a wonderful poem and I love the tribute to your friend. Who we love shows who we are.

Leigh Anne Eck said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of your colleague and friend. This is the perfect poem for many educators - we must bridge builders! I hope you find some peace in these words.

Linda B said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Carol. Many were fortunate to have her in their lives, and the poem shows exactly what far-reaching educators do for many, many teachers, then the ripples spread on to children. Hugs to you, too.

KatApel - said...

Absolutely beautiful poem, Carol. Thank-you for sharing. You were blessed to have this special lady in your life.

Violet N. said...

Big life events like this sure make one pause and think, don't they? So sorry for your loss. That poem is a keeper, relaying an important truth. Thanks for sharing it!

Whispers from the Ridge said...

Such a moving poem. I am saddened by the loss of this marvelous woman and educator. It sounds like she touched the lives of so many. Thank you for sharing a bit of her legacy with us, Carol.

Kay said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your colleague. This poem is a beautiful tribute to a life well-lived and well-loved.

Mary Lee said...

Just from what you've told us about her, the poem is a perfect fit. Reminds me quite a bit of you, too, for that matter!

Linda Mitchell said...

What a lovely and meaningful tribute. Losing a friend and mentor is tough. I'm sorry you are going through this. I hope that in your memories you continue to find lessons and signs of your friend.

Carol Varsalona said...

Carol, I share your sense of loss. I, too, have lost a dear friend this week. Life is so unpredictable and fragile, isn't it? Thank you for sharing the poem that is lovely. To soothe my grief, I am backing for the after funeral mass get-together. Have a peaceful day!

Jane @ said...

In the end, I think all we can ever hope for is that we will be remembered the way she was, as a classy, caring, inspiring person who used their passion and knowledge to make the world a better place. What a beautiful tribute.

Unknown said...

I am so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful poem that you have shared.