Former County Line Magazine contributor Judy Gottesman died early this year after a five-year battle with Alzheimer’s. Her husband Jeff began the grieving process. Past the funeral and weeks of condolences from friends and family, his time grew quiet and he began thinking of ways to memorialize his Judy.
She loved animals. They were a source of comfort for her in an often turbulent life. One of the first things Jeff did to honor Judy this year was to donate a bench in her name for the SPCA dog park in Tyler. Then, he named the stage for her where the two of them hosted many musicians over the years at The Old Firehouse in downtown Edom, Texas. The Judy Gottesman Memorial Stage will hopefully hold musicians for audiences in the near future and for years to come.
Jeff also made a donation to Pets Fur People in Tyler in her name and the nonprofit no-kill animal sanctuary responded by naming one of their buildings for Judy. The Judy Gottesman Receiving Center is where lost pets find comfort and care until they are united with their forever families.
Judy contributed a few stories in County Line many years ago but it is her poems that won her First Place two years in a row in the County Line Poetry Contest and she continued to contribute her beautiful words for several years.
A friend read one of those winning poems at Judy’s funeral.
Give me silence and a sunrise,
a shifting mist above the water,
an egret at its bank.
Skim my soul across the surface,
set thoughts adrift upon the current
to dart away, like fish.
Exhale words and wait for wisdom
floating out along the breezes,
rippling the trees.
As Jeff moved through his grief, he began sharing more of Judy’s poems every now and then on his social media. I approached him about compiling them in a book and off we went. He spent weeks gathering her poems and letters and photographs. Jeff had beautiful photos of Judy that paired well with her words. All of these components came together for Fear, Hope, Love: A Poetic Journey, The Writings of Judy Gottesman that Jeff self published just a few weeks ago.
The book weaves together much of Judy’s life in poetry and in letters she wrote to herself and others. A victim of incest as a child, she suffered through multiple marriages and abuse, and always managed to hang on to the beauty in the world. She finally found peace when she married Jeff and they had about 10 good years together until Alzheimer’s took hold. She was just a few days shy of 61 years old when she died.
As the title states, the book takes us through fear, hope, and finally to love. Her story reminds us to do whatever it takes to live our best lives and never give up hope.
Purchase the book on Amazon or directly from Jeff on his site, www.theoldfirehouse.net.