Catherine Sabine

LEWISTON – The dates June 1, 1937 to May 15, 2023, the alpha and omega of her life, inform us of Cathy’s birth and her death, they definitively reveal the span of her life, but not its substance. If we wish to know her better, we must understand her life’s beginning, which persuaded the trajectory of her life.

Born a Native-American, she was the tenth child and the first family member born in a hospital. Her mother, with the infant Cathy, joined their family in the three-bedroom home built by her father. There was a bedroom for the six girls, a bedroom for the three surviving boys, one for their parents and a hand dug cellar.

Growing up in East Deering in Portland was difficult; they were the only native family in the area. In school, they were treated differently and not expected to learn. If they uttered an Indian word, they were punished with a wooden ruler. Her brother, a year older, frequently shielded her by accepting her punishment.

In Cathy’s family, no child continued in school beyond the 8th grade. They each left school to work and help the family and, in her turn, so did Cathy. Her childhood experiences imbued the adult she would become with four passions: she wanted the education she was denied, she wanted to escape her family’s poverty; she wanted sobriety for herself and for others, and she wanted to embrace being Native-American.

Later, as a working adult with children, and without further education, she took a high school proficiency test and surprised both herself and those who encouraged her by passing all the test subjects on her single attempt. This qualified her to conditionally enroll in college, where she was determined she would succeed. While taking college courses, she continued working, always choosing not to deprive her family. She continued to pursue the education she had been denied, earning a bachelor’s degree at UMF and later a master’s degree in the Native- American program at Penn State.

In any employment, whether as a waitress, or as a professional, she did it well and was frequently praised. But it was in encouraging and guiding alcoholics in their journey of recovery that she experienced the greatest reward and in which she was most effective. She worked as a Substance Abuse Counselor in Maine, and in Italy while working for the military, and later in Japan. In Maine, she founded, managed, and later sold two counseling agencies. In her personal life, she achieved 52 years of continuous sobriety. While still a college student, she worked for the Central Maine Indian office where she taught and supervised Native-American Alcoholism Counselors. She worked for her tribe, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, in several capacities including counseling and advocating for tribal families. Later, she served as a Tribal counselor.

In the days preceding her death, she was attended and uplifted by the family members and friends she loved. There will be a memorial gathering for family and friends at the family home in August, the exact date not yet determined, will later be available from family members.

It was Cathy’s wish that her final resting place be near her tribe. Accordingly, her ashes will be interred in late summer, in the Veteran’s Cemetery in Caribou.

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