2014 Suzanne Judge. Powered by Blogger.

Day 239 - Update

>> Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hey all,

Sorry I've been absent as of late. As some of you already know, my father-in-law passed away a little over a week ago, so it's been a difficult time and I haven't really felt like blogging or anything.
He was 89 years old, and had been in and out of the hospital for the better part of two years. The last several months had been especially tough on him, and he spent his last few several weeks in the ICU at North York General. Although we knew it was coming, it was still shocking when he actually left us - no amount of preparation
can ever really "prepare" you for that.
I wanted to do a little tribute for him here on my blog, so I've decided to post the eulogy I gave at his memorial service this past Monday. He had an amazing and fulfilling life, and I think many of us could learn from how he lived and viewed life:

Here's to Stanley Judge:

I first met Stanley back in 2001, shortly after I started dating his son Chris. I was very intimidated at first – he wasn’t “Stanley” back then, he was “Mr.Judge” - and at 80 years old then he had a very strong presence indeed – very dignified, wise, very British, and with an eye that could size up a person’s true self under a minute. He immediately made me feel at home though – every time I went over to their house, he would always ask me how I was and how my family was, what was going on at work and what I was up to. And he genuinely wanted to hear my answers – you never got just polite conversation with Stanley – he was much more interested in real conversation, and after 80 years he had perfected the art of listening, and making people feel comfortable in his home.

As time went on and the years started to pass, I learnt more and more about the man who would one day become my father-in-law. He was born in Birmingham, England in 1920, and entered the Royal Air Force in 1939. He was trained as a Wireless Operator Mechanic and served during the Battle of Britain at air fields in East Anglia, both on the ground and as air crew. Later on during World War 2, he was stationed in Malta, then India, Ceylon and the Cocos Islands. After leaving the Air Force in 1946 Stanley joined Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Services in the Engineering department, and then met his first wife and had a daughter Louise. Many years later he moved to Jamaica to work for J.O.S Limited as their Assistant Chief Engineer. That’s where he met his second wife, the beautiful Rosalie Wetli. In 1974, a move to Nairobi, Kenya was in order, as Stanley accepted a job as Chief Engineer for East Africa Road Services. They had their son Christopher in 1978, and finally moved to Canada in 1981. He was instrumental in each country and each company he worked for - heading up major transportation projects and initiatives, and was even honoured in 1975 by being elected an Associate Member of The Institute of Road Transport Engineers. Stanley had loved his work, and I remember how his eyes used to light up every time he spoke of his years as an engineer, especially those in Jamaica and Africa.

Over the years, I also learnt that Stanley and I happened to have a lot in common. We were both incredibly stubborn, loved good food, could spend hours watching the Discovery Channel and TLC, and much to Chris’ dismay – had a great love of hot temperatures and an even greater hate of a little invention called “air conditioning”. I remember many a night at the Judge household, hanging out with Stan watching the Discovery Channel, eating Chinese food while Chris attempted to convince us to either turn the heat down during the winter or turn the air conditioning on during the sweltering summer heat. Stan would say “Oh come on boy – this is perfectly comfortable”. Then Chris would look at me for back-up, but the temperature war was already lost – it was 2 against 1, and Stan and I would sit there revelling in the heat, while his son looked at both us like we were crazy.

Some of my fondest memories of Stan were those nights – just family sitting around spending time together. One night, after asking him about a particularly large shell in his display case – he proceeded to regal us with the history of each of the large shells and trinkets he had amassed during his years diving in the Caribbean. It was actually really fascinating stuff - Stan had been a true adventurer, and some of his real-life accounts were more like the material of books and movies and tales told by parents to their children at bedtime. It turns out, aside from his expansive travels, he had also been an accomplished diver – he was great friends with Robert Marx, who just happened to be one of the pioneer American scuba divers and is known world-wide for his shipwreck and sunken treasure finds. In fact, next time you’re in your local library, look for 2 of the books Bob Marx wrote - “Port Royal Rediscovered” or “Pirate Port”, and included in their pages you’ll find references and pictures of both Stanley and his daughter Louise as they helped on many his dives and the excavation of his finds. When I first found this out, as a book lover and reader of . . . pretty much anything, my eyes went wide with excitement at this news and after telling us his stories of adventure and history, Stan promptly got up, went upstairs and rummaged around for a few minutes, before coming back downstairs and handing me the books. “Now I want these back” he said – “but well, you can keep them for awhile dear – you might find it a little bit interesting.” Needless to say, the next time I saw him I was even more in awe of this man, whose life and history seemed to get even more exciting and unique every time I saw him.

In 2006, I had the great honour to marry Stanley’s son Chris and take on the Judge name. I remember how proud he was of his son, and how happy he seemed to be surrounded by family, friends, great music, and maybe just a little bit of rum.

I learnt many things from my father-in-law, but it was in the last few years, as his health started to fade, that I learnt from him what could perhaps be some of the most important lessons I could ever learn.

For in the face of great adversity, dignity remained. In all his hours of struggle, he stayed strong, fought hard, and never lost hope. He always greeted me with a huge smile and a “Hello Dear”, and continued to put others needs and concerns in front of his own. Always polite, he even went as far as apologizing to me one night when he was tired and falling asleep in his hospital bed – even when it was nearing midnight. “You’ll have to forgive me my dear if I fall asleep” he said, “but I’m quite tired”. It was the middle of the night, in the hospital, and yet he was concerned about falling asleep while guests where there. Even during his last days in the hospital, when he was too weak to talk, he still managed to put a smile on the faces of the doctors and nurses around him. When asked how he was doing, he would smile, shrug his shoulders, and nod, as if to say “well – I’m still here, and that’s a start isn’t it?”

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “The measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” The strength of character that Stanley Judge possessed was like no other, and I think we could all learn from his example – both from how he lived, and how he died.

Mr.Judge, Stanley, Stan, Poppa, and my favourite Papa J. You made our world a better place. You showed us what it is to truly live – follow your dreams, follow your heart, and by all means, do it with a smile.

I am honoured to have been your daughter-in-law, and I see you and your love of life in your son, my husband. His eyes sparkle like yours always did, and the sense of adventure, tendency to put others ahead of himself, and easy laugh he gained from you are traits I hope our kids will have.

I’m grateful for the time we had together, and I found this poem I wanted to read for you, so bear with me up there:

We little knew that morning that God was going to call your name,
In life we loved you dearly, in death we do the same.
It broke our hearts to lose you, you did not go alone.
For part of us went with you, the day God called you home.
You left us peaceful memories, your love is still our guide,
And though we cannot see you, you are always at our side.
Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same,
But as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again.

We love you Papa J . . .


JTCF May 7, 2010 at 9:13 AM  

That was beautiful Suzanne...it moved me to tears. It sounds like your Father-in-law was a remarkable man. What a gift it must have been to have had him in your life. I know he'll be missed, but his memory and love will live on. My continued thoughts and prayers to you and your husband.

Marjorie Clark May 12, 2010 at 4:06 PM  

So sweet Suzanne. Thanks for sharing - very touching, and a remarkable man.

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