Saturday, January 17, 2009

Judy Laree

Paul, Judy, Linda and John a few years back when we were in Oregon visiting Judy and Paul.

Written by Lynnette (Linda's daughter): This post was written by my mom for her sister Judy. She died last Friday and Mom is on a airplane today, on her way to Oregon. This will be read at her memorial service. Mom wanted me to link it to Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane since it is full of memories - but she knows it's quite long and said if you don't have the time to read it, she understands. It was more for her heart, but she wanted to go ahead and link up.


My dear sister Judy Laree passed away yesterday, Jan.16th 2009
I will be going to her service in Brookings, Oregon this week and this is what I will share at her memorial.

Judy Laree~~~~~ Written by her sister,....Linda

How do you start to describe a person that you've known so long, and loved so much? How can you possibly put into words all of the deep feelings inside your heart? Well, I think it is impossible to put it all down on paper in just one sitting,..and I also think it will take the rest of our lives as we continue to remember Judy,... for us to even scratch the surface of the depths of love she held in her heart for each one of us.

But at times like these it does us good to open the doors of our hearts and our minds,... and at least try to express how much she meant to us. I encourage you to write things down as they come to your mind, and there will be a time of sharing later. These are some things that have come to me, and I would like to share them with you.

Judy was born on October 8th,1942. Since I am 8 years younger than her, I don't remember where she was born,...but I think it was in the Napa Valley area of Calif. She was the only daughter born to Joe and Margie M. They had a son Ronald Joe M. born 5 years previous. I am sure that Judy and Ronnie were close when they were little, but when Ronnie was 13 and Judy was 8, Ronnie went to live with his father after the marriage had ended in divorce. I am sure that it was very hard on Judy to lose her brother and playmate at just 8 years of age. I have often wondered how that affected her.

Our mother remarried and then I was born. Judy focused her love and attention on her new playmate,! She always was like a second mommy to me. About three years before Judy was born our mom lost her right arm in a car accident. She had been right handed and had to re-learn to do everything with her left hand. Judy was a lot of help to mom and she often said she was like her... "right arm." I know this was hard for Judy, but she became a very capable person growing up in a home with a handicapped mother. When Judy was about 11 years old our baby brother Danny was born, and once again she claimed him as her baby doll, and her mothering skills were used to help Mom with him when she was needed.

Growing up Dan and I loved Judy so much. We thought she was a fun big sister. When she was only about 13 she had a job as a car hop at a drive-in restaurant and she would get tips, so she always had a bag of change, and Danny and I would bug her to give us money for the bread man that sold donuts from his truck, or for the ice cream man when he came by, or the little merry -go-round truck that came through our neighborhood. She was always generous with us and would freely give us her coins,...and sometimes she would be asleep and we would just take them!

At only 15 and 1/2 Judy married William LaVern W. who had turned 21 the day before they got married in April of 1958. Danny was about 5 years old and I was almost 8 when she was married, so Vern became our big brother and we loved him,... and he was also a father figure in our lives, since there had been another divorce and we didn't have a daddy. Judy was once again generous, and she shared Vern with us. She would let us kids come and spend the night sometimes, and Mom and Danny and I were often invited over for dinner.

It was a couple of years or so before Judy and Vern started having babies, but when Laura Evelyn was born we were all ready for her! Especially me. Judy taught me how to take care of babies,...and it is a good thing, because just 13 months after Lori was born, Sandy Lynn came along, and I became a helper for those two little bundles of joy. Judy was an excellent wife, housekeeper, cook and mother! And she had fun with her children. She would always be the room mother at school when they were little. She dressed up like Hobo Kelly, (a local tv program clown), and the kids loved it. I'll never forget how she talked me into dressing up and doing that once too,...but I wasn't nearly as animated and lively a clown as she was. One year at Halloween Lori had a hurt leg and so Judy came up with the idea to wrap her up like a mummy and have Uncle Danny pull her door to door in a wagon so that she wouldn't miss out on trick or treat. Judy always had ideas on how to live life to the fullest, and how to fix what ever needed fixing.

Judy had a zest for life. She made holidays and birthdays fun,...and every meal was an occassion. She taught me how to cook, clean, decorate, wrap gifts real pretty, and how to dress up and how to do my hair and wear make up. She had very good taste. When I was a teenager, and she was a stylish young married gal she would let me get in her closet and wear anything I wanted, and that was always fun. She had a certain flair,...and next to her I always felt ultra conservative. I often called her a gypsy, ...and I was more like a pilgrim, if that gives you a mental picture! (:>) Although we were quite different and there was an 8 year age difference we were always close and had a good sister relationship.

There were times that Judy reminded me of a colorful balloon blowing in the breeze. Sometimes she needed someone to bring her back down from the clouds, and kind of anchor her,...(and several of us have been her anchor from time to time). But sometimes she just made you want to join her in a big balloon bouquet and bounce and bob along with her, and let the breeze carry you along through the amusement park of life!

She could get me to do just about anything. I remember how she talked me into helping her build a brick planter all across her huge yard, which meant pushing a wheelbarrow full of bricks a hundred times from the driveway to the back yard, and then spending the whole day on our knees stacking them and putting mortar between each one. Boy were we sore after that project,...and we just told everyone we planned it to be crooked when we were all done! (:>) We also poured a patio once,...and both these times we really didn't know what we were doing,...but Judy read how to do it and we proceeded from there! There wasn't much that Judy couldn't do back then when she set her mind to it.

Besides being a stay at home mother for several years, she had outside jobs too,... like working at Buffums department store before her kids were born, modeling and doing tea room fashion shows. And after some training she even worked as a medical assistant for awhile. There was a time she waitressed at a Country Club where she made good tips, and where she learned how to cook some pretty fancy meals, as she ate in the kitchen and watched the cooks and got their recipes. She got brother Danny a job there being a busboy when he was a teenager,...and if I remember right, that was the same time frame when she bleached his hair blonde. I wasn't there when she did that, so I don't know that story, but let's just say that funny things were always happening when you hung out with Judy. She also did some less attractive jobs too, like taking in ironing when the kids were little,... and I helped her with that sometimes too. She was much faster than I was at it,...and in fact she did everything quickly and correctly. She was a very hard worker, and I admired all of her abilities.

After I was married and had my own kids, the things Judy taught me came in very handy. When Judy was pregnant with David I was also pregnant with my second child, so that was a fun thing for sisters to enjoy together,....watching our bellies grow!!! Judy loved her little girls so much, but it was fun to see her excitement over having a boy. Vern was very proud too to have his son David. They loved their three kids very much and they were a happy family back then.

I went on to have three children too and the cousins loved to play together. Sometimes a little too much, when David and my daughter Lynnette, (who were just 3 months apart), had a magnifying glass and discovered that you could start leaves on fire by holding them under the glass in the direct sunlight! Judy and I knew we had to keep a close eye on those two kiddos. David was always hyper like his mama,...and so was Sandy as a matter of fact. Lori was more sedate and calm, her Aunt Linda!

The years passed quickly and Lori and Sandy were grown and married and Judy and Vern and their kids moved from Southern Calif. to Northern Calif. and lived in Redding, where Vern's folks were living. David did a lot of his growing up there. So I missed out on most of his teenage antics! These years in the story would need to be filled in by the kids, and some by Uncle Dan who lived in Redding during some of those years. I had moved to Colorado, and later to Kansas. But I do know that whatever life brought them they faced it together.

It was in these years that Judy and Vern started going to church, and gave their lives to Jesus and they had His help to get them through the tragic car accident and death of their daughter Lori and her husband Pat. I know that this was the greatest sorrow that Judy ever experienced. And I am sure it is true for all of them. She drew her strength from God and from that fortitude that she learned growing up. And as a family they clung to each other during their great loss.

Judy went from working in group homes, to managing group homes for troubled girls. She and Vern did this for many years and Sandy and John assisted them. They all became attached to the girls and they made a difference in their lives, but it was a very hard "24/7" job. They were able to take some cruises during that time when they needed some time off though, and that was a special time for Judy. She had such a spirit of adventure. And after a short time away she would come back refreshed and ready to work with her girls again.

It was during these years that Vern and Judy met Paul who would come to the group homes to do inspections for the State. And I know that Judy had no idea back then that after the illness and death of Vern that Paul would one day become her second husband. But I think Vern would be so glad that Paul would be there for Judy, and take good care of her after he was gone,...but of course only God knew what the future held.

Judy was lost after Vern's death and then the closing of the group homes. She came for a visit to see me in Kansas and my heart ached for all that my sister had been through. I prayed for her and kept in touch with her over the years, but with the distance between us in miles, and the cost involved, and the busyness that life brings, we didn't see each other for many years after that visit.

But during that time of her life there was a friendship, and a budding romance with Paul, and after a few years,... a marriage. Judy was coming alive again. Paul is just the person she needed in her life at that point. He is a very kind and loving person, and he met a need, and filled an empty place in Judy's heart. After she was with Paul, she sounded happy again when I would talk to her on the phone. She was back to her fiesty self! I was glad that she was no longer alone. She was on a new adventure with Paul by her side. They made a good couple because they both liked to tease each other and both were kind of onery!

Over the years they spent together they enjoyed the beauty of God's creation as they did a little traveling in their motor homes and trailers. I never thought of Judy as one that would like camping or RV-ing, but she did. She sent me some nature pictures that she took on some of those trips, and also one of a beautiful bird, and one of a rose,...these were from her time when she was trying to be a photograher! (Just for a hobby, not a profession). The pictures were good and they brought me a smile.

Judy did like to look at the beauty of the earth. Once when we were driving to Branson Missouri in the Fall, and all of the trees were turning pretty colors she smiled and looked at me and said,..."Let's give the Lord a handclap!",...and she clapped her hands like a little child who was excited over seeing something wonderful for the first time. I have done that ever since when I see beautiful trees or mountains, or the ocean. I smile and say, "Let's give the Lord a handclap!",...and my husband smiles back at me, as we remember where we learned to do that,.... and as we remember our sweet sister Judy.

Ten years had passed since I had seen my sweet sister, and my husband John and I and brother Dan were able to make the very long drive from Kansas to Oregon to see her and to meet our dear brother -in-law Paul. Having been so close to Vern I wasn't sure how I would feel,...but I was instantly impressed with his love for her, and with the way that he took care of her. And I could plainly see how much she cared for him, so my fears were set to rest. And we had a very nice visit with them, and it was fun to see Judy so happy with Paul.

On that trip they showed us around Brookings and Paul drove us along the coast. I told Judy she was blessed to live in such a beautiful place. The ocean has always been something we loved to look at, and it brings back memories of our childhood. I am happy that God 's beautiful ocean was something Judy could enjoy anytime she wanted, since they lived within walking distance of it. On that visit we all walked to the beach and along the sand and we took pictures and had a great time.

We even got to go to Redding with them to see the rest of Judy's family on that trip. Judy was glad to show us all of her grandkids and even her sweet great grandbabies. She was so happy to be there with them,...and so were John and I and Dan. It was hard to leave Judy when we had to go back home. We smiled and waved good-bye, and through the tears I kept looking at her sweet face and I wondered how long it would be before we would see each other again.

Well, it was about 4 years, but recently John and I flew to Oregon again and were blessed to spend a couple of weeks with Judy and Paul,... and a couple of days with Sandy and John and their family too. I am so thankful for that visit. Judy's health wasn't so good, but we got to express our love for each other and spent some special time together.

Judy now found joy in simple things like reading,... watching cooking shows, and telling Paul what she wanted him to cook for dinner! (He's a very good cook by the way, and we loved the fresh tuna steaks he cooked for us!) Judy and I both enjoyed watching Millionare together and trying to guess the answers along with the contestants. Some of the other little things she enjoyed were her Sierra Mists,( which she drank way too many of), and candy bars and ice cream! It didn't take much to make her happy. She loved the bouquet I made for her from her very own rose bushes, especially the cream colored ones that were tipped with purple. She would lean over and look at them and say how beautiful they were,... and then she'd smell them, and I thought of the old saying,...."take time to smell the roses"! ... Judy was doing just that! (:>)

On this trip I was the one putting make up on her, and doing her hair,...and I was the one sharing my clothes with her. I brought her a few surprises. It was my joy to give back just a little of the love that my sister had always showed towards me. It was very hard to see her so much weaker. She had spent most of last year in and out of the hospitals due to her pulmonary fibrosis and other health issues.

Who knows why life is so hard for some people, or why Judy has had to suffer so much in these recent years with her repeated illnesses and hospital stays? We only see the underside of the tapestry and won't know until we get to heaven why God allows such trials. But Judy faced them like a trooper, and with Paul's help she had managed to get through so much pain and physical suffering. I applaud Paul for all his efforts and for his loving care of my sister, as I am sure that Sandy and John and their kids do too, and also Dave and Shawna and their kids.
Paul,.......Judy told me many, many times how much she loved you and how very much she appreciated you. Brother, are in my heart forever! Thank you for all you did for my sister, and for how much you loved her! It was a beautiful thing to behold.

And my dear niece and nephew and spouses and kids, I also know that your mother and grandmother loved you with every beat of her heart. She often told me about you all and what was going on in your lives over the years, and we'd pray together on the phone for each one of you. This is also true of Paul's girls, Julie and Michelle and their families. Judy was a very kind and loving person. She had room for us all.

Now I know I have left out so much,... and as I said,... it is just impossible to write it all down in one sitting........
But I can't close with out adding this..... Judy always called me "the preacher" in the family. And as much as I didn't like being called that, I have to take this opportunity to say,...that Judy was connected to God,...she had a personal relationship with him. She loved Jesus and accepted Him as her Savior. She loved to read her Bible and to pray, and she knew without a doubt that when she died she would instantly be in Heaven with her Lord. It was her desire that everyone that she loved could know Jesus too and accept Him into their hearts and into their lives. She wasn't perfect, and none of us are,...only God is Holy.

But I would urge you to consider where you will go when faced with eternity. Heaven can be ours when we admit that we're just sinners,... and that we believe that Jesus died for our sins, and that we accept His free gift of salvation.
Judy prayed that we'd all be in Heaven together someday. Her "someday" came quickly,...66 is really not very old. None of us know when our day will come. So please take time to get right with the Lord, and be ready when that day comes.

Let's make this time a celebration of Judy's life and not grieve like those that have no hope. Judy's hope was in the Lord! He can be our hope too. The beauty she is experiencing in heaven, something we can only imagine right now,... but it can be a reality for us too if we will put our faith and trust in the Lord that Judy loved so much.

I thank the Lord for Judy Laree, and for the privilege of being her sister...and I thank you for letting me share my feelings with you.


Anonymous said...

Linda, my dear sweet friend, I am so sorry for your loss and yet rejoice with you that your sister is no longer suffering but instead enjoying the joys of Heaven!! My prayers are with you and your family!! Love, Nancy

Christa @ Quintooples said...

I am so sorry for your loss, but I also rejoice that she is in HEAVEN!

I am so excited to see Jesus, I for one can't wait. My Grandmother recently lost her battle with breast and bone cancer, and while I miss her terribly, I can't help but be a little envious..... :)

Prayers for you while you heal from your loss

Julie said...

I am SO sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing her with us and sharing such wonderful memories. She sounds like such an amazing and fun woman. What a wonderful peace to know that she is in heaven with her savior.

Abigail Kraft said...

This is an absolutely beautiful reminisce of your sister. Your love and sweet relationship with each other shines through these memories with such a vivid brilliance. How exciting that she is in Heaven with the Savior which she grew to love so dearly in her lifetime! Praise God that one day you will be reunited and will have thousands and thousands of new memories dancing through life in our eternal paradise! Isn't the promise of that life such a beautiful reality? God is so amazing!

It is so always take time to give God a handclap for His creation! :) I know you've done that many times with me...we should always be in awe of God's beautiful works, and Aunt Judy surely had a great grasp on that truth!

I'm praying for you Grandma. I love you so much!
In His arms,

Kristin said...

That was just beautiful and I enjoyed every word of reading about your sweet sister. What a beautiful tribute. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Karabeth said...

This is a beautiful tribute that you've written about your sister. The love shows through whether you shre the goods time or the bad ones in her life. She sounds like an amazing person and I think the two of you were very blessed to have each other.

We're praying for you in your time of grief.

Jessica Wheeler Grunder said...

Aunt Linda,
Hi Aunt Linda it is Jessica, Judy's grand daughter. I just wanted to say thank you so much for the Sermon you gave at my grandma's funural and how much it meant to all of us. We all love you so much and miss you!! I still think of my grandma everyday and miss hearing her voice. We talk to Paul all of the time and miss him. I can tell that he is lonely without my grandma and that makes me sad. I wish i could hear her voice right now. I love you Aunt Linda. Write me sometime at