Thursday, April 14, 2011


When I was 12 I met someone who would become a surrogate mom when I couldn't talk to my own, note I was 12 and I didn't talk to this mom either, though this woman had the opportunities to talk at me ALOT. Her name was Judy, I didn't call her Judy at the time, that took years, but she was a huge influence to me and we all lost her this week.
It has been years since I have seen her, years since I sat at her kitchen table while she did whatever it is she was doing at the counter, chatting with me, with all of us. Years since she tisked me, for whatever it was I had done that she didn't agree with. Years since she has consoled some hurt I had, by my own actions or others. Though I have not seen her since I was in my early 20s she has always been with me, in my mind, reminding me of those things that she wanted to make sure we heard and knew and never forgot. 
Judy was a 4-H leader and frequently, all but 2 that I can remember, was a chaperon on whatever adventure we were all heading off on. She was patient with us, patient beyond words.  She also kicked our asses when we needed it, reminding us of the RULES and busting us when she caught us. Judy had the joy of dealing with us from about 7th thru12th grade and she was one of those people that was always there, never in the pictures but always there, and even when she wasn't there she found out what we did. I remember the first state 4-H conference she was with us on, she pulled us aside within minutes and reminded us we were representing our county and other 4-Hers in our county and we should behave like the good people we were. We were never perfect angels, but she never expected us to be, she just expected us to try. She laughed freely, tisked often when we fell, and always reminded us of what the better choice should have been.
Until I was 15 or so I didn't really appreciate Judy, I saw her as just another adult trying to stop the fun, or dictate the rules. The problem was that she did a lot of talking, but I really wasn't doing all that much listening.  In everyones' lives rough spots happen and I hit a rough spot, and who was there but Judy. She talked me down and reminded me of who I was. That was the first, but far from the last time Judy peeled me off the ceiling or told me I was wrong and needed to fix things, or that I deserved what I got and should do right the next time. She wasn't the leader that taught me leadership, citizenship and the million other things I was suppose to be learning, but she did teach me common sense and how to support someone.  She was always there to support us, even if she was telling us we did something really stupid at the same time.
Judy didn't have any daughters, she had a son, a son that I adored. John and I are the same age and tended to attend most of the same events, which is why Judy was always in the girls dorms with me. John and I were both these loud, chubby, Portuguese kids that were just looking to have fun and hang out. We often ended up sitting in their kitchen working on a project, with Judy nearby. The best part of projects with John, was listening to Judy harass him. She constantly harassed him about something, that he always took in stride and I always eventually busted out into giggles. I loved to hear them talk, yell and love each other.
When I look back on those times I was happiest, most carefree or felt most OK with who I was as a teenager, it is up at the barn at Johns' or sitting in Judys' kitchen. I regret I never got back to see her and tell her how much she meant, I guess I always assumed she knew......
I looked through all the pictures I have of back in the day and I don't have one of I said before she was always there, but never seemed to be in the picture. I can never forget her, or the things she taught me.
Love you John :)



  1. Thanks for writing this, Erica. Amen to all of it!

    Hugs from a galaxy far, far away,

  2. Beautiful. And so true. What's amazing to me is that Judy chaperoned everything, even when John wasn't there! She went with four of us (Colleen, Erin, Gretchen and me) to Washington Focus before John was old enough to go. That's dedication.

    I'm going to the funeral today. She is definitely missed.