By Lynda Shadbolt
Jim and I just arrived home from our first ever (and not last) trip to the beautiful province of Nova Scotia. We went for a vacation (with a really fun friend), and we went to attend the celebration of life for Judy Creelman. Judy and her husband Len and their family have been a part of our community for over 50 years. Judy and Len raised their six children in Haliburton, and both had full and busy careers here. Twenty years ago they retired to the Annapolis Valley to be close to Judy’s family, but they always stayed connected to Haliburton. And so have their kids and grandkids.
It was a beautiful, sunny day for the gathering. It took place at The Founders House which is a lovely restaurant in the Annapolis Valley. The room where the gathering took place was decorated with love. Judy’s family created a table of photographs showing her life from when she was a small child to a deeply loved wife, mother, sister, friend, mother-in-law, grandmother and great grandmother. The event was exactly as Judy would have wanted: Casual and full of joy.
The food was divine. There is nothing like sea food dips made with fresh ingredients. And the cheeses. The cheeses were exceptional. We arrived, got a glass of wine, had some snacks and everyone chit-chatted. I think the three of us were the only non-family guests from Ontario. Everyone made us feel welcome right away. Siobhan Creelman (daughter of Anne and Kirk) was there with her husband and three delightful young daughters, Hattie, Clemmie and Penny. They had their art supplies out, their favourite Aunt Sophie by their side and they contributed a very happy vibe to the event as they pranced around. Matt Creelman (son of Judy and Len) was the master of ceremonies. He welcomed everyone and made space for people who wished to speak. Len wrote a loving tribute to his wife who he loved with his whole heart. It was read by his brother-in-law because Len just knew he was too teary. Judy’s kids spoke as well as family members and friends. I talked about how when I started teaching yoga in Haliburton in 1995, Judy was one of my first students. She enthusiastically joined my class and was a loyal student until she left for the East Coast. She encouraged me every step of the way to follow my dream of being self employed and of bringing something new to the community.
Judy was passionate about gardening, reading, and, as her son, Kirk said, “She was a social artist.”
There were so many stories about the parties she hosted, the cakes she baked, and how she always made space for guests at their dinner table. Judy would have laughed and cried along with all of us through the celebration if she had been there. She lived a life full of joy and she gave a lot of joy to everyone she knew. It was an honour to be there and celebrate her. Her love lives on.