Good Morning JOY!

Dear Judy,      

The sun glowed orange during rush hour this morning.  My heart sagged under a weight of joy and I slowed down to take pictures –  

I almost sent them off to you.                                         

Then I remembered …

I recalled a recent dialogue we had.

Me: Could I use these pictures of you, please?  There’s such a beauty about you that’s riveting.

… and this one. (Judy wrote:that is Eamon reading a letter that I wrote to him. I love my bedhead look.”)
I asked her for this picture  … (Judy with a mixing bowl and the rubber chicken she used as a ‘bell’ too summon assistance)











You:  You can use every picture you want.  You don’t have to ask.  Surprise me!

So I’m surprising you today …

You: How long was your fight with cancer?

Me: The cancer battle was over a year and a half.  My oncologist calls me a success case (I prefer miracle patient).  I don’t look like myself in the picture, do I?  Within two weeks of your first chemo, the hair starts falling out and you mutate into someone else. I began to practice intentional thankfulness.  When gratitude seeps in, joy is not too far behind.  Those were beautiful, dark, lovely, intense and precious times.  God sends angels, as you know, in many shapes and forms.

You: I don’t look like myself anymore, either.  I was always on the go.  Now it is my mind that is on fast.

Enjoying the evening
What a girl! My friend, Judy, as she used to be.
Judy (right) standing tall at 6′ 1″, with her mum and sister, Linda (left)


The aircraft commenced its descent into Halifax last Thursday afternoon and my thoughts overflowed with vignettes from your heart –                                                           

  • My mum sent the pink rose to me today … just because.  The Ford Escape is on the lawn because Cam wanted me to see it.  He just bought it yesterday as a second vehicle.  My wheelchair van rides low so it’s not practical for snowy days ahead.  I always loved a Ford Escape and Cam would drive a van.
Her mum’s rose in a vase on the window sill and Judy’s view of the Ford Escape, parked by the hen-house.
  • We have a cottage on the Bay of Fundy and watch the tides go in and the tides go out.  Nature at its best.  September is a special time.  Most cottagers are only there on weekends, so the solitude and beauty is magnified.  My paradise …
Her paradise – the cottage on the Bay of Fundy
A serene spot to sit stare in a sky-blue chair









Your beloved Cameron –

  • Cam and our brother-in-law are re-shingling the back of the cottage.  It has been a  busy day.  For me, the moments when I can look out the window and see the eagle fly, sandpipers having their last meals before heading to South America and the magnificent clouds being reflected in both water and wet mud are highlights of my soul.
Judy and  Cameron
Judy and her beloved Cam on their wedding day









  •  Today it was 29 degrees and sunny,  so I went out in my wheelchair to enjoy.  On impulse I drove on my lawn around to my gardens to see the tulips and bleeding heart.  I felt free until my wheelchair got stuck in soggy lawn.  Resourceful Cam got blocks of wood and we managed to get out.  BUT my tires were full of mud.   Cam cleaned as much as he could off and them I wheeled myself in.  A flashback hit me.  How many times had I told the boys NOT to wear their dirty boots in the house?  Cam, patient Cam, has been working at getting the wheels clean ever since!!!

JOY was your three-letter codeword –

  • Went to the Festival of Lights today in Wolfville, where Cam and I met while going to Acadia University.  At the farmer’s market, it was all about Indian food and entertainment.  I got a dragonfly and the word JOY done with henna and several Indian silk scarves for Christmas gifts.
Waking up to JOY on her arm each morning …
 Henna tattos: dragonfly-and-JOY  (the dragonfly is the ALS symbol)








  • I am waking up immediately to JOY in the morning for the next couple of weeks.


  • What made my day?  My careworker this morning for 4 hours was Holly. Someone that previously had only been there for my half hour tuck-ins at night.  We were sitting at my kitchen table in the sun, when I asked her about her heart-shaped ring  … and that was my further joy for the day.              

You infused JOY into every moment, Judy, distilled, savoured, sipped on it, then infected the air you breathed and intoxicated those around you.

… in Judy’s home
This says it all
JOY glowing on her front lawn and …

You: There is no such thing as coincidence. 

Absolutely. I agree …

You:  Maybe I came into your life to show you the other side of ALS.  The joyful side.

You did just that.  And you did it so well …

Always smiling.  Judy (left) chose joy during her four-year journey with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)

Your boys: your pride and JOY – 

Our sons or Charlie's angels
Judy’s/Charlies’ Angels! The three Starrit brothers all grown up. 
Judy’s JOYS: Cam and her sons
  • Tim is home. Happy heart.
  • Just got back from taking Tim to the airport.  What a lovely visit and a wonderful son.  He left such wonderful memories behind.
Tim with his newest nephew, Henry
Andrew and his boys  
  • Andrew came home on Friday and stays till this Friday.  Check him out on You Tube in the Hot Fireman ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  (Click here to watch  Judy standing at Andrew’s side as he takes up the challenge.)


  • .facebook_1515373974030
    Matthew visits at Christmas

    Matthew was home from Wednesday to Saturday.  Shared the big news that Laura is pregnant!  Be still my heart.  We are so blessed.

Those grandbabies –

  • Got a wonderful card in the mail today, with an ultrasound picture on the front and the announcement inside saying “It’s a boy!”  Our third grandson is due the end of October.  The Starrit genes were working again.  OverJOYed!!!!
  • He was born yesterday and all is right with the world.  8lb 11 0z of pure JOY! Yesterday was such an emotional day.  Waiting, wondering, wishing, praying.  And then the phone call came.  Rejoicing, heart exploding, celebrating our new JOY!  And then by 10.00 at night, emotional breakdown.  Thinking about what I will be missing in his future, but being so overjoyed he is here.  A part of me.
Celebrating Henry, the newest JOY …
Judy with sister, Linda, and tiny Henry
  • He’s Henry now.  Named after Cam’s dad.  We are still on our baby high.  Will be for quite a while.
  • Cam just stenciled a picture of him onto a pillowcase.
Cam’s handiwork: Baby Henry-on-a-pillow










  • Tomorrow Andrew, Findlay and Eamon are coming for Thanksgiving weekend. I am beyond excited!!!

    They’re here!  Watching for Findlay and Eamon through her bedroom window.
  • I have arranged for the pilot, Debbie, of the only plane that travels to Sable Island, to come and speak about her experiences.
  • I took pictures, but my hands were unsteady with excitement.
“Starfish or a shell?” (Pilot Debbie engages the kids in discussion)







Grandad, Grandma, Findlay and Eamon
“Smile guys!” (Gramps and Grammy with Findlay and Eamon)




  • Eamon just messaged me.  Andrew is taking them to a movie.  He likes to keep me informed.

Your sister —

  • Tonight Linda comes.  Any minute now.
  • Linda is here and we are going to listen to the sixth CD of the Book Of Joy, a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu.  This is our sixth Monday night doing it …
The Rhuda girls
Sister Linda (right) with Mum and Judy

… and the whacky, wonderful friends –

  • My friend, Mary, and sister are coming out to play a card game called Quiddler.  A weekly event.  I am on a winning streak.
  • Mary brings muffins for Cam
  • My tree is trimmed and …
The tree is trimmed … (in Judy’s living room)






… the Wild and Woolies are coming at 4.00.  Laughter will abound.

  • The Wild and Woolies have been getting together for over thirty years
IMG_6497 (1)
“Wild’s the word: wool’s the game!”  (The Wild and Woolies, Judy’s crazy rug-hooking gang at her Celebration of Joy)


image1 (1)
Laughter abounds. Judy with Wild and Woolly Pal, Jean
The Wild and Woolies hooked a pun-ny Christmas gift for Judy:  JOY TO THE WOOLED

Don’t forget the goats

  • Andrew and Cam have just taken the goats up the hill for a walk.    If we let them loose too close to the house, they would eat all the flowers coming up …
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Playing the giddy goat … Cam at her bedroom window
Goats-on-a-quilt. Judy’s handiwork …









  • I always have flowers in my view.  I even got flowers for Father’s Day!





Gotta be kid-ding – goats at a wedding?(The “kids” are included in Andrew and Shantel’s backyard nuptials) …

… and the chickens (of course) —

  • Just had the chickens playing the xylophone at my window.
Chicken serenade.  Pecking a little tune.   (JOY on the windowsill)
Cereal inducement.  Cam scattering cheerios on the keyboard of a toy xylaphone! 















  • Homecare just arrived, but chickens come first!


On living with ALS –

  • I have a whole new view on listening.  My boogie board is my voice now.  People don’t wait until I finish writing and assume what I’m going to say and rush off to do their own thing.  Also, they read it wrong, and I have to get their attention and underline a word or words.
  • It cost less than $30 at Costco.
Judy’s “boogie board”.  She used a tablet-type device to communicate.
  • I WAS a talker!
  • I do most of my writing on my phone now.
  • I am using my BiPAP for about 20 hours a day.  It gives me the freedom of not having to think every time I take a breath.  The strength in my hands has diminished as well.  I will NOT let that keep me from living a full life but it has put limitations on what I can do.  ALS sucks sometimes.

Sucks? The beast stinks …

Judy: Bipap to breathe, crimson manicure and loads of laughter.
  • Thank you, my dearest friend, for caring so much

You have no idea how much, Judy …

About the annual ALS Walkstrong fundraising campaign

#9 PALS Award (1)
Judy (right), active spokesperson and ALS Awareness campaigner with Kimberly Carter (left) of the ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
  • Success.  Beyond resounding!  My mind is still going.  Still walking.  Still enjoying yesterday.  There were 59 people, including care-workers, friends and family on Judy’s Joys.  I am blessed  Truly blessed.
Judy’s Joyful Angels – one of the  teams representing Judy in the ALS fundraising walk – and …





… Judy’s Joyful Jewels







  • Took 5-6 days to get over the walk.  SO worth it!



We shared our rainbows, you and I —

In your home …

… in mine –

You: We are definitely sisters from another mother.

There’s no doubt about that!

You: The physical meeting somehow eludes us, but we are so much beyond that.  We are so much closer than that.  What we have done for each other is beyond friendship.     

Me: Can’t wait to meet you, Judy.  It will be odd, though.  Kind of like having a first date after being married for a year!

You: I, too, want to meet you!  If I could, I would be on a plane now.  But the other side of reality is that I know I won’t be travelling by plane anymore.  Too many uncertainties. 

Just a text away.  Judy used pictures, video clips and GIFs to express herself.  They were dead on and often hilarious.  (Bottom left, her Facebook profile picture.)

You:  Wish, wish you lived nearby.  Always thinking about you.

Me: Me too.  I love how Cam cares for you, love the chickens, love the red bike.  I even love your ghastly puns!

facebook_1516309226912 (1)
Flowering bicycle planter (painted red by Cameron)
Hilarious hens partying at the window






The lady loved her puns. One of the many groaners on Judy’s Facebook Page








You: Our friendship goes much deeper.  I needed you as much as you needed me.  You took me outside of myself.

  • By the way, Cam is going to mail a parcel to you tomorrow.  No parcel from you yet.  Tomorrow.

Your parcel arrived by express post on December 23rd.  Icicles dripped off the eaves as the mailman hopped from one foot to the other and blew on his hands, while I hastily inscribed a signature on the electronic board he held out to me.

DREAMS made from Scrabble pieces  Hangs by my desk to inspire me as I write.   

Such a treasure trove of thoughtful things inside …   


Me:  Did you make the Scrabble ornament?  Love it!

You:  Bought it at the ALS sale.

Me:  It was meant for me.

You: I found your DREAMS, didn’t I?

You sure did!







We called on Christmas Eve, before heading out to church.  Husband, Daughters and I sang We Wish You A Merry Christmas on speakerphone.  Cam said you raised your arms in delight and crossed your hands over your heart.

On Christmas day we shared cameo moments.

You sent me –

Joy on the Christmas tree
Mum sipping a cup of yuletide tea

and I sent these –

  • Isn’t this fun?


  • Our house was always the ‘go to’ house at Christmas.  I used to make rolls and shape them in the form of wreaths and Christmas trees.  Decorate them, of course, and wrap them in clear, cellophane with fancy ribbons.  That is a thing of the past now, but Christmas still comes and goes!


I sent you a song on Saturday night.  It came with my heart.  Your response set my heart ablaze.

Click here to listen

I picked up Cameron’s message on Sunday afternoon.  You crossed over an hour after we last messaged each other.


Cousin Preman met me at the airport and drove me to the afternoon and evening visitations. 

Joyful Judy moments up on the  screens at Knox United Church






Judy’s JOY all over the church foyer







I met Cam and Linda, Mum and your boys.  And the Wild and Woolies, of course.

Linda told me she’d packed my Christmas box of  goodies for Cam to mail.  She recognized the necklace I wore.  

Wore it to the funeral.  The breast cancer ribbon necklace from my Christmas box – celebrating survival
Judy’s sister, Linda, at the evening visitation








I laughed with the Wild and Woolies.  Such stories they had to tell …

It felt like I’d known your friends and family forever.


Your final farewell on Friday was one immense celebration of joy.  The church was packed.

An unusual, uplifting occasion.  You planned it all yourself, Linda said in her tribute. 

Your beloved Bhangra Boys danced their hearts out.  

Judy’s Maritime Bhangra Boys performed 

(Click here to dance with Judy and her Bhangra Boys, on her birthday last year.)         

I picked up my tea bag and one of your dainty, embroidered white hankies on my way out.

There was a tea bag ‘party favour’ for everyone, with Judy’s instructions to have a cup of joy with a friend and an invitation to take one of her lovely old fashioned handkerchiefs to be used to wipe away tears of joy and sadness.





(Click here for photos and video clips of Judy’s funeral Celebration of Joy)          





It felt strange to visit your home on Saturday.  To walk up the ramp and knock at your kitchen door. 

Cam and Mum on the volunteer-built wheelchair ramp 
Judy’s hospital bed (from which she took many pictures), all neatly made up, will be donated to the ALS society.




Google Earth view of her home posted on Judy’s Facecbook Page






Cameron with Andrew (left) and Matthew.  Tim had left for the airport

Joy all over the house, pouring from every corner.

Cam and I sat in your room.  We chatted like we’d known each other forever. 

My Christmas package finally made it out to you after New Year’s, he told me. Two days before your final departure.  Cam said you smiled when he showed it to you

He showed me your rubber chickens.  I peeped into the henhouse on my way out.

Cam with the rubber chickens. Judy used them like a bell, to summon assistance
Had to check out  the henhouse.  An infrared light keeps the cluckies warm in the winter

You wrote three months ago: PS:  Oct 11 – went to my regular 3 month appointment with all the specialists today.  They are all pleased with how I’m doing …

 The only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability, isn’t it?


I’m sipping, as I remember and write, from the mug I found nestled in my surprise Christmas box.               

From my Christmas box.  Life sure surprised me with you, Judy.
From my Christmas box.  The dragonfly is the ALS symbol






The dragonfly brightens my kitchen window.  I love how it begins to burn when the sun seeps through.           

We never said ‘hello’ in person, Judy.  I never got to write about what I discovered in the bombed out jungle graveyard in Tellipallai, Jaffna.  This was not how our Dear Judy travel series was supposed to end.

I’m thankful you found this blog and reached out in joyful friendship.

(Click here to read how we met)

Thank you, my courageous friend.  You are proof that a purpose-driven life does not necessarily embrace a bed of roses. You were a true and unique gift.

RIP Judy Starrit, my amazing, inspirational friend. 
  • Loving you from afar. Love, xx Judy

I love you too, Judy …

We’ll meet face-to-face.  On the other shore some day, when my own journey’s done. 


He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nopain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 RSV)









His Master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant … enter into the JOY of your master.” (Matthew 25:23 RSV)

Until then,



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Meet Maria

 House is undergoing renovations. 

Puppy, a nervous wreck. (“Help! Where’s my spot?”)
Sleep tight, Claire! Overnight guest beds down with paint pots by front door








Clouds of dust, pails of paint –

Inside the coat closet

I gasp, run for IPad.  Just remembered something …

Tap. Click.  Got it!

Take a look at this …

… something Daughter said eight years ago.

Flashback to …

Several dark months when light in home is dimmed while Mother (me) undergoes treatment for late-detected breast cancer. Pretty much confined to bed.  A simple journey to the bathroom and back is long, exhausting.  Endless pilgrimages to hospital and clinics.  Can’t do much else besides.   Completely sapped of strength.

One day Daughter says –

“I guess God allows the pit to get so deep, so we can see how high his ladder can go …”


How high can it go?
Not high enough.  


Grammatically incorrect t-shirt!

Words to heal or kill- power of tongue to build up or destroy …



Perspective alters instantly.  Pit is deep, very deep – yes – but ladder goes high, so high.  Begin to count blessings.  Endless list.  

People who love and care –  

  • Husband, Daughters, Family, Friends, Church (Kitchen lies idle. Meals come in unsolicited for seven months straight.
Puppy, constant companion.  If eyes could heal ..
  • Maureen, who accompanies me to chemo sessions, sees me safely into house, remains awhile in driveway crying for me before driving away. 
  • Brother-In-Law, Jonathan, who spends 4 hours a day for a week, driving me to radiation through freezing rain and snow storms, so exhausted husband can have a break..
  • Puppy’s unwavering eyes on me. Doesn’t move from my bedside. (Never wanted a dog.  Can’t do without him now)   
  • Top notch medical care. Stellar surgeon and oncologist.
  • Knowing that everything happens for a reason.
  • Prayer.  Someone IS listening.

Etc. Etc. Etc.


Husband wakes up each morning and says, “Good morning gorgeous!”

I cry the first time I hear him.  I’m grey,   bloated,  bald as an egg.  

He isn’t joking.

He’s my man








Meet Maria –


I see Maria one morning at the chemo ward.   A pretty woman.  She begins to cry when the needle is inserted into her vein.  My heart aches.  In two weeks she’ll be as bald and as I am, with black nails and all the awful trimmings.  I don’t want her to suffer as I have. 

I place a hand on Maria’s and murmur, “You’ll be all right.”

She says, “How do you do it?”    img_20150801_202032

“You wake up each morning and ask for strength for the day.  At night say ‘thank you’ for the grace that took you through. Live one day at a time.  Don’t think about tomorrow.  It’s too frightening.”

We meet every three weeks at the hospital, talk on the phone.  Dark moments.  Shared strength.

Maria makes it.  So do I.  Sisters. There’s something about shared suffering.  Eight cancer-free years for us both this year.  Oncologist tells me I’m one of her success stories.

How high the ladder goes …


Celebration time.  Hyrrah for Maria!         


_20150710_103346                                                   Pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness

 Detest the wig.  Makes me itch, gets into eyes –

Unloved.  Hardly used the wig.

Husband wears it to sixties hippy-themed costume birthday party some weeks back!

Happy Hippy Husband.  Despised wig finally comes in useful!

That’s my man!





Won’t ever forget that moment when head feels scratchy. Realize hair’s growing back.

What a feeling …


Gorgeous full moon last week.  

Playing hide-and-seek over neighbour’s roof …

Roses still blooming in Garden –




                                                                                              Standing tall.  Me in a puddle of sunshine.















Hope is a precious thing.  Joy is priceless.  

Until next time,


PS: The pictures in this post are all clicks from my IPad and phone.  Please share your thoughts and leave a comment.  Thank you for dropping in. 

A dog’s life. Puppy sleeps in. 


So Call Me Pollyanna

So the last days of summer are upon us.  The sudden scorching temperatures have been a bonus. Sort of.  Late walks with Puppy sans sweater –

Continue reading “So Call Me Pollyanna”

Mama Mia!

Love how morning light spills all over Garden.   Continue reading “Mama Mia!”

Brake For Butterflies!






It’s me again … 

I’m in the parking lot with a cartful of groceries when I see this bumper sticker  –


I whip out my phone and click.  (How could I not? 🙂 )

Okay –



                                                                                                           wondering where this is going, right?

 I jotted down some thoughts to share.   



I resort to  paper and pen.  (If you’re under thirty, don’t judge those of us who do –





… got distracted!  Sorry, where was I? Oh, butterflies …






at myself.  I asked – 

Is it possible to


   and still


 from life’s knocks?

How can you

_20150623_101616 , no matter what the circumstances?

 How do you measure

_20150428_141718                                                                                                                          ?



I know I’ll never be the

_20150620_121419  , a _20150615_173042

_20150620_115759 , or a 


.  Who cares if I’m not




?  I don’t yearn to


 at the best restaurants, nor do I  seek


all the time. 

This I know, however.  Each new day is a 


  – not just the


 –  but every moment of my life,


.  Of course,



How wonderful not to always have to


.  I’m happy as I am, though. 


or not, I don’t


than I have.  I  know I’ll never be

_20150617_154611 , but I can be a


.  I can make


to be


 – because this is how I feel inside.

 So what sort of 


 brake for butterflies?

I’d like to think a butterfly-braker is someone who could live as if every single day is a


, who understands that simple things are of



 .  If you are


 –  and we all do from time to time,  because often




 the precious things.  

Love, faith, family, friends


 and if these things are yours,


 Are some words hard to say?

  • I’m sorry. 
  • I need you
  • I miss you
  • I love you 

Say them as often as the need arises.  And then some more.


 can turn an entire situation around.

 Do you really believe that success can be measured by the


 piled up in a bank account?

How could you ever know


 the glittering façade of a life that looks 


              on the outside?








  .  Be


to be turned


by unexpected serendipity.

Tell yourself each morning that



It’s not all about possessing stacks and


of stuff, you know.

Take a minute to

_20150618_161740 and breathe slowly.  Just think –



_20150618_162311Only once.  But …

You can make the choice to feel young for as long as you live and be


with each passing day.

Age is only a number, I tell myself.  What counts is how I feel inside, right?




You have only one life to live.


 it with all  your might!  

Brake for butterflies.


Dance under the stars. 


Hold hands.  Smile a lot.




And always remember … you’re never too old to dream!

Someone To Believe


 “There’s no emergency contact in your file, ma’am.  Could I have a relative’s name?”

 “I’m the only one left. They’re all gone.”

 All gone?

I’m at the local hospital for my annual mammogram and bone density test.

(Oh, by the way


… I’m a grateful breast cancer survivor.  Seven years.)

The perplexed secretary persists. “How about a friend?”

“All gone,” the old lady replies.  I exhale when she adds, “I can give you my husband’s name and number.”

The secretary is as relieved as I am.

I find a seat and await my turn. The words scream in my head –

 All gone … the only one left …

 How awful. 

What happens when the husband goes? 

Has she outlived her children? 

Did she have any? 

Not one friend?

Awful.  Awful. Just awful.

I lean back and close my eyes for a moment.   Faces come crowding into my mind.  My heart swells with gratitude. 

The random digital clicks on my mobile phone provide me with a gallery of pictures that inspire the ramblings on this blog.

This one


reminds me to  be thankful for the people in my life who might think I’m a little weird, sometimes outright crazy, but still believe in me. 

They root for me.  They encourage me to


 They cheer –




– and shower me with


when yet another door seems to slam in my face.  They give me a reason to hang on, keep dreaming.

I am thankful for those who believe that



This is my prayer for you, reader – and for myself, of course!







Just think –


Because it’s 


                                                                                                                                   you know!