Today our community lay to rest a beautiful woman — A woman who quietly demonstrated the splendor of living with grace — Eternally radiating joy and optimism amidst her strong and steadfast faith.
There is something magical about a person that radiates joy. Optimism serves as a magnet, and others naturally look to that special person for support and mentoring. I am not sure that I ever really knew someone whose heart and soul were so full of such unselfish joy before I met Judy.
My favorite farmer was blessed to know her his entire life — the mom of his close friend, Judy had a hand in gently guiding him down his early life path. In typical “Judy fashion” she extended this love to me when I moved to Cozad, and then to my girls when they entered the world.
I believe that there are many who are called “Mother” by a few, but there are a few very special people that are called to be a “mother” to many.
Judy was one of those special few, and she played this role with an exquisite blend of compassion and empathy. Her love for others was followed closely by a love of music. A talented piano player and organist, Judy shared her gift with many. My girls were blessed to have her as a piano teacher from the time that my favorite teenager started Kindergarten.
Those almost 10 years of piano lessons taught my girls so very much more than music literacy — Judy passed on to them the joy and harmony that comes from a life based on faith. One that is celebrated by music and dancing, and centered in a strong love of God.
Judy had a way of “softening” those around her — reminding us to focus on the priorities of love and faith. It was in this capacity that she most affected my life. There have been countless times in the last 17 years that this “hard-nosed feed yard boss lady” needed a lesson in unconditional love and acceptance of others. It seemed as though whenever I needed this most, I would look up and see Judy smiling at me with a look in her eye that spoke volumes.
As I sat in the church today, I could hear Judy telling me to look for the joy — The joy that comes from unselfishly sharing yourself with others. Through my tears, I could picture her encouraging me to live with grace—to strive to be the light that allows everyone else’s talents to shine just a little bit brighter.
I call the following mediation from Mother Teresa, “Judy’s Prayer”, because it describes my friend with a beautiful poetic clarity.
Joy shows from the eyes, it appears when one speaks and walks. It cannot be kept closed inside us. It reacts outside. When people find in your eyes that habitual happiness, they will understand that they are the beloved children of God.