Her name was Judy Frank. She would have been 70 years old today. She was taken much too soon from this earth in 1994, just a few months shy of her 48th birthday. She was my first grade teacher who I loved with all of my heart, and not just in 1st grade either. She held a place in my heart as I grew up through elementary school, into junior high and then into high school. I sat with her at high school football games when her son Kelly played on the team. I went back to visit her after I left elementary school, and called her on the phone, and sent her cards and letters and even made her one of my most intricate detailed cross-stitch pictures for Christmas in 1991.
I was a 19 year-old freshman in college when she passed. I had never before that time been dealt the blow of losing someone so dear to me. Sure, my grandfathers had passed by then, and they were dear because they were my grandfathers, but I was only 5 and 7 and life was still too much about me to realize the severity of their passing. But Mrs. Frank (the name I will always give to her) was the first time I ever realized how cruel the reality of mortality could be. She was someone I trusted very deeply and looked to for much guidance in my life. It’s hard to admit in writing that I looked to someone else for my guidance growing up, and not to the people who raised me. Childhood baggage.
After her passing, I learned what my parents truly meant to me. I often wonder if God took her from my life to help me see that the woman he placed on this earth as my mother was someone who really did love me more than she knew how to say. It took my growing up, and becoming a mother myself, to see the depth of love my own mother had, has and always will have for me – putting all childhood baggage behind me.
So happy birthday, Judy Frank. I could never express when I was a kid what you meant to me. You may have known by all the countless phone calls, letters and cards, but I never knew how to say why you meant so much. I think at the age of 41 I’m still trying to put into words. Thank you for who you were in my life. I look forward to our reunion one day when I see your face again when we see Jesus. Much love to you, friend.