Thursday, April 13, 2017

Good-Bye, My friend...

I debated whether or not I'd write this post...because there are many topics I simply choose NOT to blog about.

Even though EVERY SINGLE WORD IN THIS BLOG is true, I sometimes worry that because I only write about the happy, sunny side of my might get the wrong idea.  I have sadness and worry...just like you do....but, obviously, the beauty of having my own blog is that I get to edit out the crappy parts...

But nobody's life is perfect.

The week we got back from New York City, my friend Judy died.

At her funeral, they said she had a 12-year battle with cancer. And that's true enough. But I never thought of the last 12 years as a battle...because Judy lived every day -- happy to be alive. Joyful to be able to do what she loved...

So, right after all the joy that was my trip to NYC with Lilly...there was the grief of losing a wonderful friend.  
Judy, with Mary during her recent Iowa visit..  Judy ALWAYS had a sew-and-tell.

Judy's children asked me to speak at her funeral.  I considered that a great honor, and I spent a whole weekend, crying and considering what I knew about Judy's life...and wondering what I should say to pay tribute and say goodbye to my friend...

 This is what I wrote...

My name is Rita Farro, and Judy was my friend for almost 30 years.

When I opened a fabric store in Clinton, Iowa, Judy was one of my best customers. She was a wonderful seamstress, with so many creative ideas and such great enthusiasm, I asked her to teach a few classes.  She was soon teaching classes two or three days a week, and running a monthly “Keep America Sewing” club for my store, Rita’s Sew Fun.  Somewhere along the way, of course, we became friends.

So, today, how do I say goodbye to my friend?  I keep thinking about the words from the song Seasons of Love… Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes…How do you measure a year in the life…Of a woman or a man?

How do you measure a life?  The thing is,  if you’re doing it right, you’ll wear many hats and do many jobs in a lifetime. 

Nobody gets to be or do just one thing.  In the beginning, Judy was a daughter, a sister, and a niece. She grew up to become an aunt.  She was a beautician, a farmer and a business woman. 

And she was a loving wife to two men. Bob, who died too soon and Larry, who mourns with us today.  She was a wonderful cook, and an accomplished homemaker.  The pink bag I’ve carried on so many trips has a design that Judy embroidered…it says, “Make a Home, Create a Life.”  That could have been Judy’s motto.

As a mother, Judy joyfully raised two loving children -- Carrie and Todd.    Every time Judy talked about them,  you knew how proud she was.  They were responsible adults, wonderful parents in their own right… thoughtful and kind.  

And, of course, thanks to Carrie and Todd -- Judy was blessed with her favorite job of all -- being a grandmother to Miranda, Cassandra, J.R. and Ruby.   Judy was always working on a project for one of them.  Every time we visited, there was a quilt in progress, or a prom  gown, or new curtains for one of them.

The thing is -- Judy probably had many jobs I know nothing about. And everybody in this room had their own relationship with her. I can’t  hope to know what she meant to each of you. 

So, on this day, saying Goodbye to my friend Judy -- I want to tell you about the part of her life I knew best... 

Judy loved to sew.  She was a seamstress, an artist, a quilter, and a patient, thoughtful teacher.

She had MAD SKILLS. And for Judy, the joy of sewing centered around making gifts for people she loved.

She made designer sweatshirts, appliqued aprons, embroidered napkins and placemats. She made quilts and hot pads…Christmas stockings and tailored pants. In 1992, she hand-sewed 12,000 sequins on Carrie’s wedding gown. I know this because she shared it with her “Keep America Sewing” club, and I wrote about it in the store newsletter.

She made the jacket I’m wearing today, and she made the Christmas Stocking my granddaughter hangs on her door every year.  If there was a way for me to reel in all the gifts Judy sewed for the people she loved in her life -- this room would be filled to the brim.

Because I can’t sing…I have to settle for reading the words of Seasons of Love as a poem…. 

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear

How do you measure - measure a year?
In daylights - in sunsets
In midnights - in cups of coffee
In inches - in miles
In laughter - in strife

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life
Of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned
Or in times that she cried
In bridges she burned
Or the way that she died…

Tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate…and
Remember the life of our friend.
The gifts that she made…the love that she shared..

Remember the love….

Measure your life in love.

I feel so lucky to have had Judy as my friend.  And, I know you feel that way, too.  So please help me honor Judy and celebrate the kind, giving person she was.  If you ever received a gift from Judy -- please stand…


  1. I am so touched by the lovely words you spoke about your friend. You have such a beautiful heart and way with words. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. A favorite song from a favorite musical. Of all the people I know,you and my Jim are the two who really know how to truly move people with words. Beautiful.

  3. I feel I know Judy a little from your tribute....thanks for sharing!