My childhood friend, Joni, went on many family vacations with me. In this picture, we are horsebackriding in Palm Springs.

I loved to write when I was very young. Later on, I preferred art and music.

My sixth grade teacher wrote in my yearbook, “Please send me an autographed copy of your first book.”  I actually did publish a book of mazes in the eighth grade. I tried to contact this teacher, but she was no longer at the elementary school anymore. I always wish I could have shared that with her.

I think staying in touch with special teachers throughout my life has helped me very much.

It is truly amazing how this recent ability of mine to open up and write happened. I was, and still am just a normal person.  Although my challenges have been there, trust me – I know that I am not alone with challenges or even heartache. Along my life journey, I have accumulated so many friends with stories that go along with them. Always, even during bereavement, everyone seems to prefer to “take back their own stuff” when given a choice.

I have never written a blog, or shared so much in my entire life. Recently, while my mom was in intensive care for two months, I found that writing the updates about her became therapeutic simply because I received the most incredible responses from friends that I’ve kept in touch with all these years. I’m not even sure why I started sending them the updates, except that many of my friends have or had older parents and could relate to what was happening to me.

For so long I carried on through so many difficult situations, and neglected my connections to other people in this world. I had little time or desire, and didn’t realize how sad I was. Although I stayed connected to my “old friends,” I never really wrote or called much. Unless you really share, there cannot be closeness.

Therefore, with my friends’ permission I am going to reply to some recent, special emails here. All this sharing has been the thrill of a lifetime for someone like me.

Childhood Friends – since we were toddlers.

Message from my Childhood Friend, Joni:

On February 21, 2010 Joni wrote:

Hi Judy,

I wanted you to know I just read your entire blog in one sitting. Here I thought I knew what was going on with your kids, but really found myself amazed at what you have accomplished and lived through. You really were strong for them. I know you had to be, but still so much self-sacrifice and turmoil saturated your existence with them and you never took a vacation.

I am glad your family has a new, silver car. You deserve that and much more.

I am going to email you an application for a trip to Israel that is subsidized next October for 9 days. If you qualify, the cost is $699, plus airfare to New York. I have never been and my daughter found this opportunity.  I would love for you and I to go together!

You’re my good friend and I am thankful I had something to offer you last Thursday. I love your songs, your playing, and your singing. You have always been my sunshine and continue to be.

All my love, Joni

Hi Joni,

I read your message early this morning.  It brought out feelings of “It’s my turn to get a life!”

It was a good thing for me to dream, however, there is a lot of reality here. I hardly ever mention Michael, I know. I’ll have been married for thirty years (this year), and he has been the one bemoaning our lack of travel and adventure.

Reading my blog, I’m sure you can see why. As much as I could easily enjoy a trip such as this, it would be such a stab to his heart for me to travel like this alone. He would want to be there with me, especially for a “first time.” I don’t know if you knew this, but my mother was invited to Israel by her brother when she was 45, I think. It was actually the very first time she had ever flown on an airplane. That was the trip of a lifetime for her and my father.

Before I was married, I also had never been on an airplane! Michael arranged for us to go on a plane flight (a four-seater) to Santa Barbara. It was cool, although I was pretty airsick. I do hope I’ll have a chance to experience some travels – I guess I’d better find a way to make money. Unfortunately, I need to go find a job, and stop playing tennis, guitar, and writing. I think instead, I’ll continue my creative pursuits with little income and take vacations in my head!

As much as Michael wishes I brought in the income that I used to, he is amused at all this writing I am doing and supportive. He has always encouraged my creative pursuits, for which I am grateful. He is still reminding me how he begged me to do email 15 years ago; and I wasn’t ready for at least five years after that!

Love, Judy

Shirley (my mom), Judy, Joni in front.

Message from my college art teacher, Nancy:

On Feb 20, 2010, Nancy wrote:

Hi Judy!

What a nice surprise to receive your voice message today!
  Thank you for the birthday wish, Judy!
  Today is a wonderful day and I am doing what I always do, enjoying it!
 At the moment, I am back on my computer, drawing…my fav thing to do.

I have been learning sooo much from the series of emails you have been sending and receiving from your friends. I talked about them yesterday with my therapist.
 I am amazed at your support group, something I have never understood/had/wanted/believed existed/etc….. A result of my own damaged past….

I continue to try to find some inkling of a disingenuous tone from any of the correspondence between you and your friends. Well, I just cannot find it!  Trusting and feeling cared for have always been a HUGE issue with me. The sincerity and support I see between all of you is incredibly baffling and mysterious and mind-boggling. So, as I read your emails, I am fascinated to be an observer and see the so many different lessons from so many different angles.

Yes, Judy, you have had a full plate. I never realized all the things you have had to deal with through the years, especially with your children. 
I knew some of it, edges, but not very much. Whew!!!!
  All I can say is you are coming through smelling like a rose!!!

Lots of love and kisses,

It’s hard to write anything after reading these beautiful messages that I’ve received in just one day. I appreciate my dear friends that have allowed me to share their messages.

Why do I have a picture of a key for the new car? (A Honda CRV-EX – Michael will mostly drive it). Well, it has a lot to do with “being fifty” now. Today when I planned to drive this intoxicating, new car, I felt very competent to adjust everything and “take off.”

However, I sat in the garage for about ten minutes attempting to start the car with the key. It wasn’t working, and I finally had to admit that buckling and unbuckling the seatbelt, opening and closing the door, and looking for another keyhole didn’t help. I used my cell-phone to call Michael upstairs in the house and he said that the key should work. Then I looked at the key closely and realized it still had a plastic sleeve on it. You can clearly see it in the photo, but obviously I’m going to have to start wearing reading glasses around my neck soon. (Just like my mother, OY!)

© Judy Unger and 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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