Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Stranger Friends

"Holiday gifts: To your enemy, forgiveness. To a friend, your heart. To all, good will."
                                                                       --Don Ward

As I've been writing this blog the last several months, I have often had one particular person in mind as I wrote about the changes in my life due to my illness. My Aunt Judy was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension a few years ago and had been dealing with the changes and limitations the diagnosis brought into her life. I would talk to mom on the phone and she would say Judy was having a tough time knowing her limitations or adjusting to not being out and about, so I would write about a time in my life when those feelings were new to me and how I adjusted my thinking in order to deal with them.

It was my way of trying to help without being one more person who was trying to tell her what to do. Because I know how I feel when people try to tell me what to do. :) So it's a little strange for me to sit and write this post today knowing that Judy isn't here to read it. She passed away on Monday afternoon with her husband Jon and two boys, Brad and Todd, there to love her into her new life in heaven.


I so wish every one of you could have known Judy, because you would have loved her and she would certainly have loved you. My mom hit the nail on the head when we were talking tonight and she said that everyone Judy met was her best friend. Everyone she introduced mom to was her best friend. She loved big and loved a lot.

And she also whined like no one else I know. Seriously, people... I know it sounds weird but it was my absolute favorite thing about her. She wasn't an annoying whiner... she whined in a way that made you laugh and want to wrap your arms around her and take care of everything for her. When I called her once in the hospital, I was expecting to hear how she was feeling and instead we had a 20 minute conversation about the fact that they had changed her diet and all these food commercials are on TV and it just wasn't fair that she couldn't have a hamburger and fries. I mean, a little grease and fat couldn't be that bad for her heart!

My sister Janette had visited her there and sure enough she had become best friends with the nurses and would lower her head and look at them through those eyelashes and convince them to just bring her a little smidge of coffee. A little whine from Judy and people just couldn't help themselves.

We would be sitting next to each other and she would whine about my long eyelashes and how hers weren't long and, how did I curl them like that? Which would sometimes lead to a full-on makeover for Judy by the time the conversation was ended. But Judy noticed those things because, let me tell you people, Judy had to be classy. Which means everyone around her needed to be classy, too. Mom, Dad, Judy and Jon spent many a holiday together and no one would leave the house without the right clothes, cologne and overall look. I can see her practically taking my dad's white socks off his feet and explaining to him that socks with sandals just aren't classy. Thank goodness Dad and Jon still have Mother to keep them in line and check their outfits before going out the door... because Judy wouldn't have it any other way.

There are so many things I want to tell you about her but just can't on this blog. Because not all of our hog roasts were with nuns and singing, Oh Lord It's Hard to Be Humble. No, we had many a hog roast at their lake house in Brainerd that were equally entertaining in much different ways. There is a video floating around somewhere of Mom, Me, Janette, Judy and Jon in a kick-line singing, Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw. Let's just say we didn't have many dull moments ... and Mom's right ... everyone in Judy's life was so fortunate to be her best friend.


The world feels a little different without her in it, but it would be a much more beautiful place if we all took a little bit of Aunt Judy into our hearts and greeted every new stranger as our best friend. It's definitely something I'm going to try to emulate from Judy.

That, and staying classy.


  1. It may be because I am getting older, but this Christmas finds us handling a number of serious illnesses among friends and family and several deaths this past week. I have not viewed the deaths as anything but a wonderful relief for the loved one who has passed on and those who loved him.

    And like you, Sara, I prefer to spend time thinking about the things that made them uniquely "them" and find joy in thinkingabout those things instead of the last very hard weeks or motnhs of their lives.

    Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas.


  2. i'm sorry for your loss...

  3. i'm so sorry about your loss.

    i hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas.

  4. I'm so sorry for your loss, too, Sara! You already emulate your Aunt Judy in that you make people feel incredibly loved the instant they meet you & whenever they are in your presence.

    Blessings to you, dear-heart, and may you feel the presence of your precious Aunt around you this Christmas season.

  5. Gitz, I'm so sorry for your loss and for all the family. I'm praying for God's peace and comfort to blanket all of you.
    Aunt sounds like an amazing woman who lived a life that had impact on those around her. What more can we ask for? prayers...

  6. Dear Sara. My deepest sympathy goes out to you and your family, for the loss of your Dear Aunt Judy. May the memories of her life, fill you with joy peace.
    I'm sending you hugs and prayers and wishes for a Blessed Christmas.

  7. Dear Sara,

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Your aunt was obviously very loved and cherished by many people. Her memory and spirit will live on through each of you. Have a blessed Christmas.

    Love, Amy

  8. Sara, I'm sorry for your loss. That was a very moving tribute and I would guess the ones who knew Aunt Judy would be especially touched by it. I wish you peace and comfort and many fond memories.

    Did you go to Gull lake in Brainerd? I have a great visual of all of you dancing!

    I wish you a blessed Christmas Sara, Love to you and Riley!

  9. I´m so sorry, Sara. That´s tough.
    But, as always, you have a great oulook.

  10. Just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas!

  11. How blessed you were to have her influence on your life. When people accept those around them as nothing less than human, the way God intended us to, I am always greatly humbled.

    May you have peace in knowing her life was lived well.

  12. I'm so sorry for your (and your family's) loss, Sara. Somehow, you'd think I'd have more comforting things to say considering the past month, but one thing I've learned is that there really arent words to take away the ache in our hearts when a loved one dies. But please know that I'll say a prayer for all of you tonight.

    Merry Christmas.

  13. So sorry for your and your family's loss - especially at this time of the year. I'll keep you all in my prayers

  14. Sara, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your post about her was beautiful.

    I wish you a Merry Christmas.

  15. I am so sorry love. She seems amazing!

  16. Sara, she sounds like so much fun. It is hard to lose someone who was so full of life. I am glad she was such a strong presence in her time here. That gives you more memories and more stories to tell about her. I am praying for you; God be with you.


  17. I, too, am very sorry to hear of your loss.
    What a beautiful tribute to her...she sounds like a wonderful woman, and obviously she has left a great legacy.

    Bless you during this time.

  18. So sorry to hear of your loss. Your Aunt Judy sounds like a real scream. She must have been fun to be around. Those are great memories to have!

    I love that you used your blog to try to lift her up subtly when she was struggling. Seems like God gave you some wonderful gifts in the areas of word and song, and it's neat that you are using your powers for good instead of evil (as I often jokingly say to my kids).