Not too long after we moved to Omaha in 1970, my parents both joined choruses that sing in "barbershop style" (four-part a cappella emphasizing major and dominant-seventh chords) ... my father the Omaha Central Statesmen, a chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Singing in America—yeah, quite a mouthful—and Mom the local chapter of Sweet Adelines, just known as the Omaha Chapter. Through the Omaha Chapter, Mom met many women who would become dear, close friends, and would therefore become friends of the family.
One of them was Judy Aden.
Judy was a lively, vibrant woman with a wicked sense of humor and almost unfailing optimism. Together with Mom, Judy wrote many of the Chapter's annual shows; she later became the assistant director and then the director. Judy and Mom and some other women from the chapter regularly shared rooms as the chapter traveled throughout the region and the US. Such was the bond that each of them regularly showed up at family events, like children's birthday parties, graduations, weddings and holiday barbecues; it was inevitable that, after The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood came out and rode to the top of the NYT best-seller lists, they would call themselves "the Ya-Yas".
She did a lot more, of course. If you read the obituary from the Omaha World-Herald, you'll see she worked with a lot of organizations, including the Jewish Community Center, an American Legion post, the Executive Women's Golf Association's Rally for a Cure, University of Nebraska Medical Center's Gala for Hope and the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.Whatever she did, she did thoroughly, with passion and professionalism and unbounded confidence in success.
One of my most treasured memories of Judy was when my maternal grandmother passed away: Judy brought a plant. Not flowers ... a plant. Why? Because cut flowers are essentially dead flowers that are thrown away after a few days; Judy wanted to bring something that would be alive, because memories of those whom we love should be tied to living things.
Judy had had cancer at least once before, and had survived it. This time around, though, it was a particularly aggressive form of leukemia. Through the magic of Facebook, I followed her as she took every possible step to beat it; not at any time, which must have seen plenty of suffering, did she show anything less than her customary hope and faith. Alas, this time the Reaper would not be denied. On Monday, January 24, she died of multiple organ failure. She was a bright star in so many people's lives, and she will be missed.
Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.