Judy was one of my many, many “grandparents” from the Unitarian Universalist Church in Ellsworth, Maine. Like all my grandparents there she nurtured me into being a better person, gave me new perspectives on ideas I already had, introduced new ideas, and relentlessly reminded me that history might just have a thing or two to tell me. She tried my patience as I tried to talk to her about gender identity and I know I tried her patience when she tried to talk to me about, well, pretty much anything else. But such is any good relationship.
Judy passed away unexpectedly up in Maine yesterday; a friend from the church who knew I’d want to know messaged me on Facebook and asked if she could call me. We talked a little, reflecting and catching up and said our goodbyes. Sitting in my living room in Boston my mind went instantaneously to that church in Ellsworth. The place that has such mixed memories for me, simultaneous love and affection and confusion and heartbreak and loss.
Judy, like all my church grandparents, gave great hugs; I got one pretty much every time I walked into that church. She also loved to talk AND to listen; I think of those first few coffee hours at UUCE where I’d awkwardly stand around not sure how to engage in conversations and Judy would bring me in. The days leading up to graduating from college when Judy, and many others, would check in on me and make sure I was getting stuff done but still retaining my sanity; Judy was the was the first church person to edge in a hug the Sunday morning after graduation.
I think of the day when I found out my sister would be coming to live with me; announcing it in church, and Judy seeing RIGHT through my “It’ll be fine” exterior to how completely and utterly freaked out I was. How she checked in on me nearly constantly in those first couple of months.
And whereas nearly none of the people at my current church know my blog most of my UUCE friends have been following it from the beginning. Judy commented, frequently and in depth, on dozens of my posts. My stats show that she was the most popular commenter aside from me. She was active on Facebook, too, always up for a comment on a cute picture, a funny quote, or something inspiring or upsetting or just plain strange that I had to say.
Judy often tried to encourage me toward more gentleness in my speech, and I know I frustrated her with my sarcasm. She encouraged me against making snap judgments and thinking through situations from different viewpoints. We didn’t always agree, but she didn’t give up on me. I’m sad we didn’t have more time to grow in our friendship, but I’m so thankful for the time we did have.
She will be missed by many, and I am one of that number.