JUDY

Judy was my friend.  

The funeral was held in a small church which was packed, probably half of whom were clergy, including the Bishop.  She would have been chuffed about the Bishop. 

Terry gave the eulogy and we heard about her love for family and all the good work she had done for people down the years together with her many and varied achievements which, I might add, were mightily impressive.  We heard about their love for each other and I know, from knowing them so well, that they had wonderful years together.  What we didn’t hear was what a beautiful, loving and generous person she was in day to day living with people other than family in the years before Terry.  We didn’t hear about her calm acceptance of whatever life threw at her, even the last most dreadful affliction which eventually was the end.  We didn’t hear about her as a friend when her friendship was so solid, so freely given.  We didn’t hear about her life before she moved to Australia because there was no one there who knew that.

I first met her in 1983 when we worked together in an office where she was head of the accounts department and I was a legal secretary.  I had arrived in Bathurst from Bourke with not much more than a car but after 12 months of getting to know each other fairly well, we decided I would give up my flat and come and board with her and her first husband, John.  It was a good arrangement as we all got on well together, she and I shared the housework and John mowed the lawns.  In our living arrangements Judy did the cooking and John and I washed up.  She  was a good cook and loved it  so who were we to argue?  

Sometime before I went to board with Judy I had acquired a little poodle.  It was John’s fault.  He had brought him home from the Royal Easter Show in Sydney as a puppy, RAS was his name, but as Judy already had a small Australian Terrier, Pippi,  she refused to have another dog in the house so John gave him to me.  Of course when I came to board with them, RAS came with me to board as well.  The two pups had a wonderful time but we came home from work one day to find the back yard a moonscape, holes everywhere.  Although she was never short of something to say, this time she was rendered utterly speechless.  We all stood silently while she ranted on and after blaming RAS entirely for the mess, he waited for her to finish sounding off, walked over to where she was standing, peed down her leg, and trotted out the door.  She was red in the face, almost apoplectic and could not utter a word.  John and I managed to hide the laughter (who would have dared?) and busied ourselves elsewhere until she got over it.  Being the generous soul Jude was, she did get over it and didn’t even hold it against him, either the pee on the leg or the moonscape.  At the time the thought did cross my mind that we’d be kicked out but she forgave him and all was well.

At this time I had a teenage son at school at Forbes and each second weekend he would come over on the train on a Friday night, spend the weekend with us and I would take him back on Sunday.  He would sleep on the lounge Friday and Saturday nights and both Judy and John welcomed him in as just another part of the family.

Our lives went on more or less as they had been but something else was taking place.  John still played with his Welsh ponies but because I had a car Jude and I started to get out and about.  That car took us everywhere.  Our lives blossomed.  We went to shows and all sorts of events that interested us.  

Judy was very handy as a needlewoman and did many craft things.  I did a few also but I wasn’t in her class.  Probably under her influence, I remember volunteering to do a cross stitch kneeler for the Holy Trinity church on the hill at Kelso .  She really did all in her power to get me to finish it but it was never going to happen.  I think she finished it herself after I had gone but I don’t know that for sure.  If she didn’t, it is probably hanging around somewhere (not at Judy’s house that’s for sure, nothing hung around there) along with the Aran jumper I started knitting for my son’s 21st.  He is now 46 and still doesn’t have an Aran jumper.  Judy always finished everything she started.

However, we went to exhibitions, art shows, needlework extravaganzas in Sydney and generally enjoyed ourselves.  We even became activists and attended a few meetings to change the world.   We were old enough to realise that this wasn’t going to happen, not with those meetings anyway, so we went off and did what we could in our own fashion, through Lifeline and various other entities.  Judy joined a mob called Creditline to help people who couldn’t make ends meet and assist them to get their finances in order.  I let that one go.  That wasn’t my scene. I probably should have been first on her list as a client but she didn’t go there either, knowing she was already beaten on that one.  Failures were things she couldn’t cope with.

Judy came from Newcastle-on-Tyne in England and was brought up in a very poor area.  Although the family was better off than most in that vicinity  at that time just after the war, there were still seven children in the home, six girls and a boy, and these had to be fed and clothed.  Her mother brought the family up with the philosophy that “If you have two coats, give one to someone else.  You can only wear one at a time”.  And that was Judy’s philosophy in life as well.  It had been ingrained in her.  Emigrating to Austtralia from England when she was 19, she came with just a small suitcase which held her entire belongings.  When I first met her she had only four dresses.  She worked for a living, she looked after John and she saved.  We did eventually change a few things there but she always saved.

Her love for Australia was very real and the last song at her funeral was “I Still Call Australia Home”.  She used to say “You were just lucky to have been born in Australia.  I am Australian by choice.”

Because of the way she was brought up, she was the greatest chucker I have ever come across.  If something wasn’t used it was thrown out - given to someone who would use it.  If it wasn’t of any use, same thing.  That’s why I  made sure I at least looked useful.  

Although we flitted about all over the country on our own, Judy always made time to cater for the people who came to the various horse shows John was involved with and of those there were quite a few.  However, I was happy to go and help her with this (she did the cooking of course and I the washing up).  When the two days of morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea were over, we would make a quick getaway and snoop around antique and craft shops in the mountains, have coffee overlooking wonderful valleys and generally while away those beautiful Sunday afternoons.

John blamed me for their separation and ultimate divorce because now, Judy was never at home.  He really should have blamed the car.  Without it we would both have just worked and stayed at home.  I had moved away by the time their marriage fell apart but the damage had been done.  She knew there was life out there.

When the divorce was over and she bought a new house, a few of us helped her move in.  Up till this stage I really had not noticed one of her funny little ways.  I knew she was a bit anal with symmetry and straight lines and figures adding up and that sort of thing, the way accountants are, but it was only when we were moving her into the new house that I had the opportunity to really see her in action.  

The two-seater lounge had been brought in and put along the back wall in the tiny loungeroom.  Then came the two matching chairs which made up the lounge suite.  She lined them up facing the two seater, side by side, like little soldiers.  As furniture was still being brought in and moved around, I rearranged them, still facing the two seater but at angles to the side, so they looked nicer, softer.  She walked back in and it was almost as if she had had a physical blow.  Stopping in her tracks for a moment, she then rushed over,  straightening them both back to where she had them before.  As it was her house after all, the chairs mostly stayed that way, just occasionally slipping off to the side.

At a much later stage Terry, her second husband, and I played the same sort of game with her when they moved into the house at West Wyalong and I was there helping them get settled.  Judy had their lovely long table parallel to the wall and window in the dining room, straight lines everywhere. For fun we moved it diagonally across the room.  She took it all in good fun but still chased us out.  She had a really good way of just flicking you with the teatowel.  Actually I think she developed that when John and I used to eat the fruit soaking in alcohol before the fruit cakes were cooked.  To my mind, the best way to eat them.

Anyway, I eventually moved into the house in Bentick Street with her and we shared the place, just the two of us, very happily for the best part of five years all up.  Quite often we would pass like ships in the night leaving notes for each other showing the state of play, as  “The dogs have been fed so don’t believe what they tell you when you get home”.  Or, “have done the washing, you might check if it is dry, could  rain.”   Nothing was a hassle.

Judy didn’t drink much alcohol but there were occasions when we would sit on the floor with a bottle of red between us, play sad songs and cry.  You have to do that sometimes.  We would tell each other our hopes and dreams and secrets.  She had a lovely saying “Chance would be a fine thing.”  She is lucky that I am now of an age to have forgotten all the secrets, hers and mine!!!

There were times when we made pawpaw facemasks and lay on the floor, faces covered in the stuff, meditating and waiting for miracles to happen.  The enzymes in pawpaws are supposed to make you beautiful.   After the juice had run down into our hair and ears we would fight to be first in the shower.   Actually, Judy didn’t need anything for her skin, it was always beautiful.  

It is very easy to live with someone when you have no expectations of each other.  I did think she was a bit strange.  I know she thought I was a bit strange.  Still, we accepted the differences and had a ball instead.  We both had baggage from our separate upbringings and former lifetimes but we accepted that also and got on with it.

Driving down to the funeral we turned onto the main Mudgee-Lithgow road at Ilford and I suddenly remembered going over to one of the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days a good few years ago on a freezing winter day.  (It is always freezing at the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days).  We called in to this little cafe-cum-shop-cum-servo to have a coffee and warm ourselves.  Probably the heater wasn’t working in my pride and joy, the Datsun 180B (or was it the Datsun 120Y?).

After ordering coffee and a snack and waiting quite a while for the refreshments to come, we studied the place and decided we could do better than what these people were doing with it.  The potbelly fire was wonderful and because of that you didn’t mind waiting, but it left a lot to be desired.  We said to ourselves “We can do better than this” and had it in our minds to buy the place when we became financial.  It was for sale then, (and stayed for sale until it eventually closed down) so our dream stayed alive for quite some time.  It was a lucky that we had moved on before we became financial (if we ever did) as we could have been in Ilford forever with no way of getting enough money to buy petrol to get back to Bathurst!!! 

We had a few ideas (hairbrained some people said) of buying a coffee shop out somewhere where people would come in their droves for our wonderful fare.  Our imaginations ran wild with us always making heaps of money.  Judy always thought of the cooking side of it and what she could do.  I thought of the money.

She did have one great idea though, which I had forgotten and her nephew reminded me of it after the funeral.  She wanted to make her wonderful fruit cakes and sell them by mail order to people who would then receive them in the post.  How clever she was.  What foresight.  She was just about 20 years ahead of her time as now, with the internet, it would have been a breeze.  I think she wanted me to do the mailing but I didn’t have visions of me doing that.

Over the years we travelled around the country, even to Bourke a couple of times.  For a person from England, she loved the outback.  Once, when her sister, Gladys was over, we drove to Adelaide to see my daughter, stopping all the time to pick up gum nuts and other interesting pieces to be used as table decorations for my daughter’s upcoming wedding.  Judy loved the bush and the emptiness of that landscape while all Gladys wanted to do was get back to civilisation (and see Home and Away).  

Judy catered for that wedding, almost single handedly.   She did an amazing job mostly because she loved recipes and when I went to bed with a good book she went to bed with three or four recipe books.  I told you she was a bit strange.   She had another saying “There’s nowt as queer as folks.”

For months before the wedding, Jude played with recipes, testing them on me, mostly, but on all our friends.  None of us objected.  We would have gatherings and tastings with nods of approval or not as people gave their considered opinions  Sometimes we asked her to make this one or that one again because we couldn’t quite decide.  She understood what we were up to but did it anyway.

She never tired of this type of pastime, also trying amazing desserts which I mostly took to work for the girls for morning tea so they could give their approval or not.  We loved them and then couldn’t decide which ones to have.  Decisions, decisions.   It was such a let down after the wedding when we all had to fall back on ryvitas and cheese!!!  The catering, I might add, was wonderful and she became famous in our small circle of friends.

When my partner came on the scene he was welcomed in with the same welcome she gave everyone.  After a short time he and I moved to the Northern Territory but there were times when the three of us (don’t forget the dog) would arrive back in Bathurst for the odd wet season.  She would have our room ready and we just slotted in as though we hadn’t been away.  In the NT we lived in a place called Mataranka and although Judy didn’t swear, she always called it Matabloodyranka.

In the times we were away there was no car to travel around in (Judy didn’t get a licence or a car until much later when she and Terry moved to West Wyalong.  She worked for the Tax Office and drove all around the west.  Another amazing feat.)  At home at this time though, she walked and walked and walked, to everything, even out to Kelso each Sunday morning for her early Lifeline shift.  People were quick to offer her lifts of course but most of the time she walked.  She must have covered hundreds of kilometres over this period.

The last time Judy came to Bourke was for my son’s wedding and there she met Terry who officiated at the nuptials.  The rest, as they say, is history.  The four of us, my partner and I and the two of them have been friends ever since.  It has been lovely over these past twenty odd years to see their obvious happiness and to have shared all the fun times we four have had together.

Judy was such a happy person, no matter her circumstances. She was also generous to a fault, with a big heart that encompassed everyone who came across her.  She didn’t have a bad word to say about anybody and went through life meeting everything head on with her quirky sense of humour and infectious laugh, which I miss.

Judy was my friend.