To the editor:
“Write something meaningful about Julie,” that’s what the Post-It note on my window commands. Like Julie, I’m rarely at a loss for words. Nonetheless, it’s been difficult to tackle the task of paying some sort of tribute to Julie Sharpe.
“Julie was a massage therapist.” She donated her extraordinary services to people who were sick or too poor to pay, visiting them in their homes, hospitals and hospice care. (From personal experience, I’ll add that she refused payment at other times, too, for reasons like “a person shouldn’t have to pay for a massage when her mother dies.”)
She drove people to medical appointments and made sure they had food, transportation and comfort. She did all that, and much, much more, without boasting about her contribution to our lives. She had a genuinely self-deprecating manner about her activities, as if they were trivial when, in fact, she routinely changed people’s lives.
“Julie was a sharp-shooter and always spoke her mind.” She stuck to her principles and stuck by others when they struggled with their own. She love Skaneateles and was deeply concerned about what would happen to it long after she was gone. She made a formidable adversary when defending her values. I confess that I was relieved that I never found myself on the other side of her crusades, projects or campaigns.
The disease that attacked Julie’s formidable brain never made a dent in her sense of humor, which was often directed at herself and which was, to some, downright morbid. On our last visit, I choked back a laugh that was half-guffaw, half-snort when she said something related to her impending demise. If I’d known it was our last shared, totally tasteless joke, I’d have tried harder to remember exactly what she said.
I don’t offer up formal prayers very often, but after that visit I prayed for God to please take Julie as soon as she was ready. I prayed she wouldn’t have to endure the same kind of suffering through which she’d helped so many others.