28 October 2010

Oct 30 memories of Julia-dear

Since I'll be away on Saturday, I wanted to share this now.
I wrote this a couple of years ago, but feel the same way today as then, so I'm simply reposting a former entry, written when my friend Julia-dear passed away at the age of 90:
My beloved friend, Julia Hassell, passed away peacefully this week [30 Oct 2007] after a brave fight against colon cancer. Her loved ones have been by her side for weeks now, and I am so thankful that their hospice experience was a positive one. I have learned a great deal about compassion and strength and loyalty from this caring family.
Oh, I shall miss my little friend dearly. (Julia called me her little friend, but I towered above her in my stockinged feet.) Her generous spirit more than made up for her tiny stature!
Julia's influence in my own life extended beyond her frequent phone calls and my lunch visits to Big Hill Lodge these past seven years; although I was supposedly her Bible study "teacher", she was my spiritual mentor in many ways. I never left room #104 without her touching my forehead and gently praying that the Lord would bless me and keep me and make His face shine upon me. 
Of all her qualities, I believe I shall most miss Julia's no-nonsense ability to pray about anything and everything. Her relationship with her Lord was vibrant and authentic, and she took her prayer ministry very seriously. Faithfully she interceded for all her neighbours at the Lodge, strangers and friends alike.
And I shall miss the hymns we sang together! "Make a joyful NOISE unto the Lord," exhorts the psalmist. And we did. She knew all the words, too!
(And whose plate shall I eat off now?)
Julia's daughter, Marilyn (who has subsequently become my friend) called earlier this evening and asked if I'd pay tribute to her mom on Monday. I feel honoured. It was a real privilege to speak at Julia's memorial service in 2007. I shared the story of the young African hippo, washed up after the tsunami, and the old tortoise it befriended. I wore Julia's comfy dressing gown as I spoke, my pockets full of candy, as hers would have been.  
I have often written and spoken of Julia in my more regular NLSC columns; a few years ago, while I was a student, one of my seminary papers for Developmental Psych (on aging gracefully) was actually about Julia. {Do you remember, Dr. Wyman?}  I dressed up in some of her clothing, whitened my hair, and presented my paper. What an inspiration she was.
I was touched by the way in which Julia crept into the hearts of the angels at the Chinook Hospice where she spent the last few weeks of her life. Apparently some of the staff members gathered around her bed on the night she died and cried...
She has left a Julia-sized space in all our lives.
Blessings on your life this day, dear Reader. I cherish you.
"The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make His face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up His countenance on you,
and give you peace." 

No comments: