By Connie Denney

It has been a sort of verbal collage—with vivid mental images, of course—as folks have shared memories of the gracious, talented, witty, charming great conversationalist we knew as Judy Moss. The obituary marking the finality of her passing at age 97 was published in last week’s edition, as was an “In Memory” column by Mark Stevens, a former publisher of this newspaper.

When I saw Becky Conley at The Y, she told me the story she had shared at a reception following Judy’s memorial service. Becky’s Mother, Mildred Erwin Conley, and Judy as high school students packed their lunch and rode the bus to Johnson City to see “Gone with the Wind.” They ate lunch during intermission.

Over coffee Ann Howze spoke of Judy’s friendliness. When they met, Ann commented on Judy’s purse (from the description, I’m pretty sure it was one Judy had made). Judy explained the significance of the images on it. Nellie Pate was reminded of the chocolate “record” Judy made for Keith Whitson, Nellie’s son, when he succeeded Stevens as publisher of The Erwin Record. Judy presented the “record,” resembling the vinyl ones we all once played, on a doily.  Keith still has it and told me of messages of encouragement, not only with the gift, but on phone messages and in person.

Snippets of my own memories: the time she invited me to come over to meet a regional author; the time we went to an auction; the time we got cool in her pool. She enjoyed giving. I’m looking at a small trinket box made from specially folded paper. Recently, I came across a small glass jar I use to hold buttons in the sewing basket. The label on the bottom reads “Just Judy.” It had contained homemade moisturizing cream.

Losing her reminded me afresh of the pleasure of having friends of varying ages. Special blessings in my life have come from women a bit older than I who have been/are great friends. They have wisdom gained only through experience. They have accepted me as I am, have a sense of humor, have nothing to prove, but do have fun. I have learned/do learn from them just being around them.

Although I don’t remember specifically how Judy and I first met, she became one of the “stability people,” as I have come to think of them, in my life. We did not necessarily see each other often; but, as we agreed, we just picked up where we had left off.  No need to get reacquainted, just catch up.

Not at all one to put on airs, she had a flair that came naturally, along with her quick smile. She spoke openly, shared thoughts, opinions and insights, as well as fruits of her talents. She loved parties and entertaining long before I ever knew her. Creativity expressed itself in her home surroundings, baking, crafts, the way she dressed, including the hats for which she was known.

Judy’s ability—determination, perhaps—to make the best of her circumstances is probably her most outstanding lasting influence on me. Life was not always kind to her. She experienced losses.  But, she made the best of things, however they shook out.

Remembering her makes me smile.