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Neil 02-01-2021 07:26 PM

A tragic loss for one of our beloved members.
On January 23 Deb, wife of Kevin "Mudrat" Mackenzie, passed away unexpectedly.

What follows is the tribute that Kevin wrote.

Deb and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary on December 24, 2020. I remember telling her that I could not believe we’d shared 15 years as husband and wife—that she put up with my mountain shenanigans for so long. I never expected to be blessed with such a kind and loving soulmate.

I also did not expect to lose her so soon. Deb, the other half of my heart, passed away on January 23 of a massive brain bleed. I held her hand at the hospital as her heart took its last beat. *Please read to the end for viewing times.

Deb was a Christian as am I. Though I know she’s with Christ in a place free of her debilitating chronic pain and the chaos of the world, the loss is unfathomable. I feel like I am drifting in time with my essence stripped away. I feel as if I will suddenly awake from this nightmare when she walks back into the room. I realize that will never again happen. She is gone. Her three kids, my parents, the rest of the family, and all she touched are devastated by this sudden loss. Her petite frame harbored a larger-than-life personality and left a lasting impact on those who knew her. She was unselfish, kind, generous, and fiercely loyal to those she loved.

She was also a private person. While many of you who know me did not meet her, I want to talk about a small part of who she was (a full account would be a book), something that reflects her spirit. Wendy Hall owner of Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Deb were best friends for over a decade. Wendy, a gifted artist, paid tribute to Deb’s soul and passion by creating this pastel as a tribute. In the pastel, Deb is interacting with Mellor, a gentle barred owl that was in our lives for 8 years. An upcoming pastel, will reflect Deb’s passion as a fiery golden eagle warmed to her for the first time—Deb was the only one this eagle really took to. She was taking a photo when it hopped on her arm much to everyone’s surprise. It simply liked Deb and realized that she had no fear of it regardless of its size.

Deb was a part of the Refuge and she and I, over years, sat inside the animal enclosures interacting with various critters as we photographed them. Imagine Deb with a red fox clamped onto her pocket because it smelled cheese crackers, a merlin perched on her hand, a fawn nuzzling her neck, or a coyote curiously walking the cage as she soothed it with calming tones. Imagine hundreds of songbirds over the years tucked in her neck or resting on her chest after a feeding—she used her body’s warmth and the rhythm of her heartbeat as part of the rehabilitation process. She “whispered” many from the brink of death to be released back to into the wild—she was a wildlife rehabilitator with a gift. Animals took to her because she had no fear, just an understanding of the unique personality of each individual—yes, songbirds and all wild animals exhibit distinct personality traits even compared to others within their respective species—she could read the nuances of body language and focused her passion into seeing them well again. If they died, she mourned each. Deb’s photography will live on as her spirit will live on in the animals she helped save and now roam free.

Deb was open about her wishes so, in lieu of flowers, please direct a donation in her honor to Adirondack Wildlife Refuge.

MrKawfey 02-02-2021 10:40 AM

It's probably been years since I have posted anything here, but I still drop in every few days to check on the chatter and keep up with discussions that look interesting. It's amazing how, despite having never met anyone from this forum in person, I can feel like I'm getting together with old friends when I drop in. (anyone heard anything whacky from Serotonin in a while?)

So I guess it shouldn't be surprising that reading this saddened me so much. Yet it is still surprising.

I'm sorry for your loss Kevin. Deb sounds like she was an amazing person. My goal in life is pretty simple, I'd like to leave the world a better place than I found it. Deb seems like one of those people who did that without even trying. I think the world is probably a bit better off because she was part of it.

I hope that in these difficult times, where we are all so separated from each other, that you can still get the support that you need. Someday I'll pass you on the trail, or in town. I won't know you and you won't know me and nothing magical will happen. But somehow, just knowing that it's likely, or even possible, feels.......good.

Take care my friend,
-Chris (MrKawfey)

montcalm 02-02-2021 10:50 AM

I don't know them personally, but I've enjoyed reading Kevin's adventures. I'm sorry to hear of his loss. My condolences to him and his family! May he find healing and hope in the mountains.

2505 02-02-2021 02:57 PM

Kevin- We met briefly on the porch of JBL several years ago. I was there with my sister after climbing Bennie's on an unforgettable trip, and you were emerging from one of your many epic Panther Gorge trips. I have always admired your energy and your spirit, and your account of your time with Deb is touching and yet uplifting. Peace be with you now and whenever you return to roam about in her wild. I am sure she will be guiding you along.

mudrat 02-23-2021 11:31 AM

Thanks to everyone above for their messages. I truly appreciate it!

Deb’s passing is the hardest thing I’ve endured; the pain is ongoing. I did my best to call and write as many friends as possible in the days after Deb’s passing. I wanted them to hear from me firsthand if possible. I apologize to anyone that I missed; it was a hectic, emotional time, and my mind was in a fog.

The outpouring of love, compassion, and friendship was a tidal wave of light during my darkest days. It continues to be. My family & friends kept me going by checking in, talking, visiting, cooking/delivering some of the best food I’ve eaten to date, buoying me emotionally, and getting me outdoors a few times to redirect my focus. The acts of kindness touched me in a way I could not imagine. It is easy to grow cynical in today’s world and believe that selfless kindness doesn’t exist. That is not the case. To everyone who is a part of my support team—thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’re a blessing. There are too many people to mention, but you know who you are. Know that you made and continue to make a huge difference in my life.

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