Today is the day a beautiful and amazing woman entered this world—the unforgettable Judy McClure. Sadly, I cannot call Judy to wish her a happy birthday, nor can I share a birthday treat with her. Instead, I asked God to wish her a happy birthday from me. But I can still raise a birthday toast to her and keep her memory alive by telling you a bit about my dear friend.
I first met Judy in a Bible study class. I liked her right away, and I think my admiration for her grew every time I saw her. She made me feel like a queen. Whenever she saw me, she would yell out my name in a voice that showed she was thrilled to see me. It always warmed my heart.
Judy was an enigma. In some ways, she was like a queen. She knew how things should be done and wasn’t afraid to give instructions to others or to tell them what they were doing wrong. On the other hand, she was the most encouraging, humble, down-to-earth and generous person I knew. She loved people and animals, and sacrificed a lot to serve them. She was the kind of friend who heard our family was ill and showed up at our door with a big pot of home-made chicken noodle soup and a decadent dessert. She encouraged me as a mother. Whenever I was frustrated with how my boys were acting, she would always say, “Those boys are just the right combination of sweetness and mischief!” She was always surprising us with presents—the latest Buzz Lightyear toys for the boys, coffee for my husband, and hats, jewelry and journals for me. I will never forget the day I was walking across the church parking lot when Judy pulled up beside me in her car. She seemed especially excited to see me that day, and told me to get in her car. As it turns out, she had discovered an adorable hat while she was shopping. Knowing that I loved hats, she wanted to get one for me. But she explained that she couldn’t decide which color to get. “So, I got one of each,” she happily declared as she plunked four hats on my lap. She waved off my thanks and drove me back to my car so I could put my hats away before entering the church. I was so excited about my hats that I didn’t even look down when I stepped onto the ground, and I stepped into a pile of mud. In a flash, Judy was out of her car with a rag in her hand. She grabbed my leg, lifted it up and wiped the mud from my shoe, seemingly without thought. She simply lived to serve and bless others.
On another Sunday, Judy came up to me and asked me if I liked her earrings. They were made up of tiny purple beads, hanging at different lengths. I thought they were adorable and told her so. She promptly pulled them out of her ears and handed them to me. She explained that she bought them to help a friend who sold jewelry for a living, but that they weren’t her style. She had decided to buy them, wear them to church and give them to the first person who complimented them. As no one had complimented them by the time she ran into me, she made a point of asking me if I liked them. She was determined to bless someone with those earrings. They continue to be one of my favorite sets!
One year on Mother’s Day, Judy went blind in one eye. Shortly afterward she went deaf in one ear. We learned that she had a brain tumor and advanced cancer. Judy learned all of her options and decided to seek treatment at an excellent hospital in Boston. After all the testing was completed and the doctor came to give her the results, she told the friends who were with her, “If I get bad news, don’t cry.” The news was bad, and Judy herself cried as she realized she would never watch her grandchildren grow up. But she decided to end her life with dignity, and she prayed that God would allow her to live through one more Christmas. He granted her request. From her chair Judy dictated the Christmas prep work—from how the cookies should be baked to how the tree should be decorated. She requested her favorite foods, even though she knew she would only be able to eat a few bites. She spent the last days of her life thinking of how she could bless others. Her daughter said she giggled with delight as she decided to bless some people with surprise gifts of money in her will.
Judy loved Jesus and loved to worship Him. Even when she was very weak and unable to get out of her wheelchair, she insisted on being taken to church for the worship services. I would always look for her, so I could share a hug with her.
I was given the privilege of representing Judy’s friends by sharing at her memorial service. As I wrote out my thoughts for the service, I pondered what to wear. I remembered the earrings Judy gave to me and decided I simply had to wear purple, the color of royalty. Nothing else seemed fitting for remembering my wonderful, queenly friend—and the King she now worshipped face to face!