In keeping with bringing inspiration and enlightenment to this blog, I’ve decided to occasionally interview inspiring people – maybe World War II veterans, world travelers, people who have overcome great challenges, etc. I decided to begin with someone who inspires me personally. I spent an hour last night interviewing one of my favorite people in the whole world, and I’d like to share it with you.
I first met Keith Judd in my local ward (or congregation) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I admired him and his lovely wife, Carol, for many years. They were soft-spoken, kind people. Carol always went out of her way to say something sweet and kind to me. Many of us admired their marriage and the loving way in which they spoke to (and about) one another.
At some point I began to help Brother Judd put together his personal history for his family. I thought it was going to be a little project to keep me from getting into trouble in my spare time. It turned out to be a three-year education in what it is like to keep company with very spiritual people. I learned so much from being in their presence. Before the project was complete, Carol passed away. I continued to work with him afterwards, and it became a labor of love. I was actually given the great privilege of typing up their “courting letters.” What a sweet experience! His family now has beautifully bound books that will be cherished for generations, “Carol G. Judd, Memories of Her Life,” “Keith Judd and Carol Judd, Their Court Letters and Memories,” and “Keith R. Judd, My Ancestors, Brothers and Sisters, and Descendants.” Their family journals are being prepared for publication.
Brother Judd became the Stake Patriarch shortly before I began working on his personal history. For those who may read this who are not of my faith, this needs an explanation. The Stake Patriarch’s calling in the church is to give one-time priesthood blessings to members of the church called patriarchal blessings. These blessings are very spiritual, and are considered personal scripture from Heavenly Father just for you. Stake Patriarchs are extremely spiritual people, very much in tune with the Lord. Patriarch Judd is no exception.
I asked Brother Judd what was the most important gospel principle at work in his life. There was a long pause, and then he said endurance, patience, kindness, and forgiveness. He said the Holy Ghost helps him to stay close to the gospel, avoid contention, and know that all will be well.
He said the most important thing he wants people to know about patriarchal blessings is that Heavenly Father knows you, loves you, and wants you to be happy. Most people receive their patriarchal blessings when they are teenagers as they seek guidance from the Lord as to where life will take them. I received mine later, after marriage and four children. I already knew the answer to my next question, but I wanted it to come from him. I asked him if someone could learn anything new from a patriarchal blessing that is given later in life. He said, “Oh very much so!” He said Heavenly Father loves all of us no matter what our age.
When speaking about the youth of the church, he spoke of the many challenges that they have, but that they are well equipped with leadership skills and with doctrine of the church. He hastened to add that he must do his part as a father and grandfather to help them learn. He told me the youth of the church are certainly strong enough to withstand the adversary – just as those 100 years ago. Nothing has changed. He wants the youth to know they are important and valued, and that they can accomplish great and wonderful tasks. He would encourage them to utilize and follow the teachings of the church and to pray often.
Brother Judd was greatly influenced by his Mormon pioneer heritage. The things which they wrote down have been a blessing to his life. His parents lived as great examples to him and were a great blessing to him. They sacrificed a great deal.
When asked what he considers his most challenging calling in the church, he said the present one. Each calling has brought joy and happiness. He said his most rewarding calling is that of husband, father, and grandfather.
We talked a bit about the personal history books that he put together for his family. If he had any advice for others, it would be to start now and keep the words that will be important to those who come after you.
To young people considering marriage or young married couples his counsel would be to always be positive in the language used to each other and about one another. Be kind and show appreciation for each other, and always be aware of the other person’s needs.
Carol’s health was very fragile for many years, so I asked Brother Judd if he had words of counsel for someone caring for a spouse. He frankly amazed me when he said that Carol’s health issues never became a part of their marriage. He reminded me that Carol always kept herself dressed beautifully, never complained, and never wanted to appear to be ill. She never let her health interfere with family life or her responsibilities. She always “gave her best.” He tried to be aware of her needs. If she didn’t feel like doing something, he always had other things he could do.
I asked Brother Judd how he coped with losing the great love of his life. He expressed gratitude for the many years they had together. He is grateful that she was able to be herself right up until the end. He said she had a doctor appointment a couple of days before she died, and she wanted to go “looking her best.” He is grateful that she didn’t leave this earth with more discomfort. He has learned that it is his responsibility to carry on, not feel sorry for himself, or be selfish. He still signs cards and letters from “Mom and Dad,” “Grandma and Grandpa,” or “Carol and Keith.” I know that because I’ve received Christmas cards from him.
When asked what his biggest challenge is now, he said eating a proper diet. I didn’t expect that. I somehow expected something different. However, I admitted that eating properly is one of my own biggest challenges.
At the end of the interview, I asked Brother Judd if there was anything else that he wanted to tell the world, after all, this was his opportunity. He expressed gratitude for the kindness, love, and support that he has received from others. He is grateful for his children and grandchildren and for their love and support. He is grateful for his health and that he can take care of himself and still live in his home. He is grateful for the time he had with Carol, and for the personal history books that remind him and his family of the many happy years they had together. He ended by saying, “Life is good.”
Brother Judd walked me to my car, looked around at the flowers in his lovely yard, and said, “How could I not be happy with all this. If I don’t have joy, it is all my fault.” How fitting that our time together would end on that note. I thought about that all night. Heavenly Father has given us this beautiful, glorious earth with loved ones around us. He wants us to be joyful. Joy is our own responsibility.