Saturday, December 1, 2018

Yesterday: Thinking 'bout Judy 'Weez

Today's the first day of December, and that's a good thing. It can never get here fast enough for me.

I have a rough time with the month of November. No matter how many years removed I am from the dark times of particular Novembers, it still catches up with me, that month I dub the "No Season."

This year, it snuck up on me, unawares. I wasn't particularly mulling over any depressing poems about November, or caught up in incessantly dwelling on the negative news of the month—fires here, earthquakes there. Not even complaining about the gloomy, cloudy, rainy weather.

What caught me by surprise was a simple, casual conversation. I was working on finding family of the subjects in some hundred-year-old photographs, and I had connected with one potential descendant. She was interested in receiving one particular picture, and, in response to my emailed request, had sent me her mailing address.

The place she now calls home happens to be the same town where my mother-in-law's father was born—a place where, back when he was born in 1908, there might have been, maybe, a thousand residents.

Well, it's not exactly my mother-in-law whose father came from that place. It's my previous mother-in-law, the mother of my first husband. But, as I've explained before, it gets complicated to explain that. So I usually don't.

So when that email reminded me, the other day, about the place of this family's roots, I couldn't help but think of that family. And the fact that, though it was fourteen years ago now, it was November in which my mother-in-law unexpectedly passed away. And the follow up clincher, on the very last day of November six years ago, when my sister-in-law followed suit—the last leaf on that branch of a family line.

Since we genealogists can do this, I checked my family history database, just to make sure that encroaching melancholy feeling was entitled to take up residence. Sure enough, there it was: Judy's date of passing on November 30, 2012. Another unexpected shock. But not one I hadn't mentioned before.

Judy was the younger sister of my first husband, the one whose story I've written about at length. (In fact, I've shared quite a bit on this blog about this entire family line, over the years.) Though as a young boy, he teased her unmercifully—laughed at the perky four-year-old's habit of introducing herself as "Judy 'Weez" instead of the more proper Judith Louise—he was always the staunchly supportive big brother in her mind, from her youngest years to his last days.

Though Judy was the last leaf on her family's branch, she wasn't without family. She and her husband, for instance, raised one of his grandchildren. Thinking about Judy got me to wondering how this grandchild was now doing, after all these years.

While thoughts like that were turning over in my mind, I didn't mention anything to my family. Some things are just hard to talk about, even much later.

But yesterday—that same day which was the anniversary of Judy's death—while I was in town running errands, I got a text from my daughter, who had run home to pick up some supplies she needed for her work. When she walked up to the front door, she could see something was wedged into the door jamb. It was a note, from this grandchild.

Not knowing what I had been reminiscing about, my daughter had been thinking of this same young man over the past couple days, herself. And here he was, two days later, showing up at my doorstep. And I wasn't home.

Sometimes, connecting with family is like that: when we're ready to talk, the one we want to talk to isn't available. I'm sure I'll catch up with this sweet remembrance of our family's past, thankful for reconnecting with a relationship once lost. It's just one of those reminders that life isn't always certain, a fleeting moment we need to grab and cherish while we have the chance.

childhood photo outside home before Christmas in Santa Rosa California 1960

Above: Greg and Judy Bean, brother and sister, in front of their childhood home in Santa Rosa, California, before Christmas in 1960.

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