Special people leave us special memories

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 28, 2005

When you move to a new town it can be scary, especially when you are launching a new career. That is the way I felt when I first packed everything and carted it up I-65 from Mobile to Greenville to take my first reporting job last year.

It’s always normal to feel a little out of place in a new town, but fortunately, I never got the opportunity. That was because of our editors mother Mrs. Judy Thomas. Mrs. Judy and I hit it off right away because of my weekly columns that celebrated the joys of being a bumpkin.

She made it a point to let me know which of my redneckish ramblings she enjoyed and gave me a few stories of her own. She had a way of making you feel welcome right away and no one appreciated that more than the new kid in town.

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That was the thing about Mrs. Judy. She had a way of making you feel special all the time. I can’t remember ever seeing her when she wasn’t smiling or didn’t have a funny story to tell.

Best of all, she always had a chocolate milkshake close at hand when any of us would make a pit stop by the Dairy Dream. I think she shared my philosophy that ice cream could heal all wounds.

It was never too late to call on Mrs. Judy for favors. I can remember two different occasions where we stayed in the Advocate office later than we had anticipated waiting for election and runoff results. Both times it took longer than local restaurants were willing to stay open and both times we beat a path toward Honoraville to the Thomas house for some late night grub.

Even though she would probably have rather been in bed she whipped up more food than we could eat and kept us entertained the whole time we were there.

I learned early Tuesday that Mrs. Judy had suddenly passed away and to say I was in shock would be an understatement. A person that I had grown to love like family in a short period of time was gone and it didn’t seem fair. I couldn’t even begin to think what those who had known her all their lives must have felt. It just didn’t seem fair.

But the more I thought about it the luckier I felt. I felt lucky to have been able to start my newspaper career in Mrs. Judy’s town. I felt lucky to have been one of the fortunate people to have known Mrs. Judy. There weren’t many people in Butler and Crenshaw County that she didn’t know and she was loved by all of them.

I was lucky enough to talk to her on the phone one last time about a month ago while passing through Greenville on a trip. As usual I was telling her about another redneck antic that had gotten me another scar from a dog bite I received. I had been trying to show off my cowboy skills by hog-tying a pit bull. As usual, she let me know that it had been a lapse in judgment on my part by saying “Well Rick…I would have probably bit you too.”

We ended the conversation the way we always did with her saying “You need to come out to the house and let us feed you when you get a chance.”

While I only knew Mrs. Judy for a few months I will miss her dearly. I am sad for the loss to her family and friends, but I am not worried. Because through all of her good work we all know where Mrs. Judy is now.