By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
I had to say “bye for now” last week to someone I had come to treasure over the last two decades. Her name was Judy Gilbert, and she breathed her last on “this side” on Friday, May 12. She died at home, surrounded by love, and I can say that in the brief time I was there on Thursday afternoon the 11th, you could feel the” peace that passes all understanding” throughout the house.
We were, in the parlance of network marketing, known as “sideline buddies” working for a global health food company that found a way to put powdered fruits and vegetables in a capsule a little over 30 years ago. We shared adventures, heartbreak, triumph, and laughter together, and she was a fierce warrior for the total health of others.
Our extended team had a nickname for Judy and her sister, the late Sue Edgemon, and it was the “Alabama Sparklers.” When we would go to national conferences and other events, it was always a joy to be around “the Sparklers.” The name came about because these gals always looked gorgeous, and sported just the right amount of glam. And far more importantly, they were (and are) gorgeous on the inside. They were true Southern ladies, lovely within and without.
Thursday last, Judy’s and my sponsor, Carrie Radnov, who lives in St. Louis got a hold of me and said, “We need to get flowers to Judy today.” Carrie just “knew.” I offered to go to Dugger’s Florist, put in the order, pick it up, and deliver it…whatever it took to get something custom-made to Judy in the middle of Mother ’s Day Week. Carrie sent the picture of what she had in mind, and we were in business. A huge thank you to Melinda for moving so quickly on it when I know she was already way passed pooped out. Another thank you goes to Amy Fiscus, who had volunteered to go help Melinda that day. Melinda had to wait all day for the arrival of some Gerbera daisies to complete the arrangement. She slipped them in moments before I arrived, and off I went to Judy’s house.
Judy’s daughter, Julie Shields, met me at the door. Her face lit up when she saw me, and especially when she saw the flowers. “Oh, those are just perfect,” she said with her trademark gentleness that I have savored for the last two decades. We then had such deep fellowship in the kitchen, and talked about all the things that had transpired in Judy’s health in the last year. Above all, Julie conveyed the fact that she knew she had been promised by our Savior that her mom “would be made whole.”
Then Julie asked me if she could share a vision she had had pertaining to heaven and Judy’s family waiting for her there. The family was preparing a table for Judy, and they were all waiting with big smiles on their faces. Aunt Sue was carefully setting the table with gorgeous china, silver, and linens. Sue was also putting the finishing touches on the floral centerpiece, placing the last two blooms in place. “Everything needs to be just right for Judy,” Aunt Sue said in the vision.
Now, here is the “chill bumps” part of the story. Julie looked at me and said, while pointing to the arrangement I had delivered that was now sitting on the counter, “That is the arrangement that I saw in the vision.” Tears came, and tears are coming as I finish this piece. I hope my tears serve to “sparkle for the Sparkler.” Sparkle on, Judy girl, and we shall see you soon. And, we shall finish what you started, dear one.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner