Thursday, March 17, 2016

Farewell, Judy

When someone dies, it's not uncommon to hear friends and loved ones talk about how kind and special the person was.  It's so not uncommon that one has to wonder how genuine those reminisces are.  Is it possible that there are that many kind and special people in the world?  I personally can count on one hand the number of people in my life who would and have been considered kind and special.  And one of them lost her fight to pancreatic cancer today.

Judy Carter was my mother's best friend.  She, her husband, and three sons lived across the street from us for about 40 years.  They are family, really.  We even went on vacations together.  It was nothing for them to cross the street and just walk into our house or come over to sit on the deck.  Judy would frequently come over to the house in the mornings in her robe with her tea and sit and talk to Mom for a few hours.  They exchanged gifts every Christmas.

To say Judy was kind and special is an understatement.  She volunteered for her church, her kids' schools, her community, and did it all with a constant smile on her face and a cheery disposition.  I can't recall ever seeing her in a bad mood, although I'm sure she had them.  When I would drive home to visit Mom and Dad while living in DC, or drive a rental car from the airport since moving to Chicago, Judy would greet me in the street with a hug, almost always being the first person I would see when I arrived home.

She was devoted to my mother's happiness and sanity, and worried about her as Dad's health declined.  I know Judy did everything in her power to support Mom, even if it was just to talk.  Judy was that kind of person.  She did things for you without provocation.  Every Christmas, she would send over her special candy cane cookies that my sister loves.  Judy constantly had a compliment for you.  She used to ask me to make her bulletin boards for her classrooms.  She was always telling me how talented I am and what a good artist I am and what a lovely voice I have.  She didn't have to tell me any of these things.  On paper, Judy was just our neighbor.  But in many ways, she was another aunt or cousin or older sister to me.  And despite not seeing her over the past year since she was diagnosed, I can't help but feel a great loss in my world.  I can't imagine the loss my mother feels today.

It is a rare occasion when someone can be described truly as kind and special.  And Judy is that rare exception.  Whatever happens to us when we die or wherever we go after we leave Earth, that place has been made better by Judy's arrival, and we who remain will have to find a way to deal with the loss of her.  St Patrick's Day will be forever changed for us, because it will now reflect another saint in our eyes as well as be the day we all obtained the most kind and the most special guardian angel.