When someone dies, it always affects more than just the family. There are friends involved, unless, of course, the deceased had no friends. In Judy's case, I guess I never knew anyone with more friends. I was one of them. In fact, she was my closest friend, and taking that last month's walk with her, spending hours and days and weeks by her side, joined us in such a way that when she finally left us, it left me spent and bleeding. But here's the thing that just takes my breath away. People in this town began bringing us food, sending us cards, calling us on the phone - all because they realized a deep truth. Friends grieve, too. Friends need special nurturing just like family, and do you know that never in my life have I seen this acknowledged before.
I'll bet many of you are scratching your heads about now, thinking, "Well, what's the big deal? We've always done this." And that proves my point exactly. Winchester has a huge heart. I want to thank every person who gave loving attention to all of Judy's closest friends. I will always treasure it.
This is not the only thing that makes our town stand out, though. When we first moved here, we saw a police car with lights flashing, followed by many cars with lights on, carrying grieving people to the cemetery where someone they cared for was to be laid to rest. I assume this procession is similar, no matter where you are. What is not the same is that we noticed that dozens of cars on that road that were not part of the funeral procession pulled over to the side of the road and stopped out of respect and decency. They did not have to do this, and, in fact, I had never seen it done before. Once, in St. Louis, I saw a young man actually blow his horn as he tried to hurry them up. You would never see that here.
In South Florida, they practically kill each other trying to grab a parking space in front of the next guy. Here, many times I've seen people signal for the other person to go ahead and take it. The first time I saw that in the Wal-Mart parking lot, I thought I must be in the Garden of Eden. As a matter of fact, when the man gestured with his hand for me to take the empty space (and just having left South Florida), I thought he was giving me "the finger." What a surprise!
As most of you know, after reading me for so many years, I could go on and on and cite one example after another to further prove what a wonderful town we call home, but I won't. I just had to recognize in writing how truly special our hometown is, how its residents take care of each other. I guess now is as good a time as any to say thank you for - 16 years ago - how you all greeted us with open arms into your lives. You didn't know us from Adam's house cat, but you took us in on faith. It has been our "home" from the very first day we arrived. Thank you.
The view from the hill is wondrous.