Judy’s tales: The Waterfall Incident

Today marks the 6 month anniversary of my mom’s passing. I cannot believe it’s been half a year since I’ve spoken to her. I cannot believe how time has flown.

I feel like I’ve spent each month awaiting for the arrival of the 11th day, to declare one more month of time since she passed. I don’t know when I decided to stop, but the idea entered my head not too long ago, and I have been waiting for the 11th day for a different reason this time around.

Today is October 11. Today I begin a story. It’s a story of my mom. Her tales of adventures, fun and hilarity. It’s how I, and everyone else should remember her. On the 11th day of each month I will write and honor my mom’s memory with a story she loved to tell about something that “would only happen to Judy.” I hope you’ll enjoy these tales, and if you were lucky enough to know my mom, I hope they bring a smile to your face whenever you read them.

The Waterfall Incident

In the winter of 2008, we packed up an SUV and a truck with family and neighbors and took an 9 hour road trip up to a little town called Blairsville, Georgia. The four of us (mom, dad, my grandmother and I + 2 dogs) had ventured to this beautiful northern destination just two years prior, and had fallen in love with the area. With it’s mountains, country restaurants, and quaint little markets, it’s a little-known vacation spot that we are so glad we discovered.

We rented two cabins in the tippy top of Blood Mountain, and had so much fun playing in the snow, roasting marshmallows in the fire, and squealing over the field mice who decided to vacation with us. I remember using the bathroom one morning (like sitting on the toilet) when one of these pesky rodents came running through the crack under the door, straight at my pajama pant-covered feet as I sat. I was completely calm, of course.

Each day we had different activities planned, as there is SO much to do up there. Hiking, shopping, scenic drives and horseback riding filled our days. But one particular memory sticks out above the rest: The Waterfall Incident. You see, Blairsville is the highest point in Georgia, and with that comes waterfalls- lots of them. After a half dozen trips up there, I still haven’t seen all of the waterfalls that the lower Appalachian mountains have to offer.

On this particular day, we had planned to take a drive over to Helton Creek Falls. As we pulled into the parking area, we realized there was about a half mile hike down, then back up to get to the top of one part of the falls, then the base of another part of the falls. My neighbor brought her elderly mother on this trip, and she wasn’t able to do the climbing involved, so she stayed in the car to wait for us while we dove into this adventure.

We began the trek down a some steep steps, then up what seemed double the amount to reach the top of the first 45ft. drop. The falls are divided into two sections. Walking up a bit further will take you to the bottom of the 60ft. waterfall, but unfortunately you cannot climb to the top of that part of the falls.

The base of the top falls.

As we reached the top, my mom decided she wanted to “take a closer look”. It was a very cold day, and had snowed the night before. Ice covered the steps and rocks leading up to the falls, so we were all extra cautious as we hiked. As the water rushed passed us over the slick rocks, we stayed on the observation deck…. except for Judy.

Before we knew it, my mom was walking out to the rocks by the roaring river, heading out towards the edge of the waterfall. My mother was never at a loss for crazy ideas (as you’ll soon discover) so when she decided to shimmy her feet over to take a peek, we weren’t surprised. What happened next wasn’t a shocker either. My mom was known for her clumsiness. She was always falling, slipping or tripping over something (usually because her daily movements incorporated some form of dancing), so when we turned our head and saw my mom on her back, slipping closer and closer to the final edge of the falls, we freaked!

You see, Judy was always known for her hair-brained ideas. And this one was no different. Fortunately she was wearing jeans, which prevented her from sliding towards an impending doom. As my father cautiously crept toward the edge to help my mom, I pulled out my camera to document the whole process on film (which I will frantically look for to share with you all!). My mom used to love to reenact the story of how she crawled onto her hands and knees and tried to reach out and grab my father’s hand as he continued to use his other hand to hold onto his precious cigar that he didn’t want to go to waste.

Needless to say, we were able to pull her to safety, and continue to enjoy the remainder of our vacation with little to no additional emergencies. When we returned back to the car, Ophelia, our neighbor commented on the screams she heard from her spot up at the parking area. She figured the falls were so beautiful and we were hooting and hollering in all of it’s glory. She, of course, wasn’t surprised to hear the truth, and from that day on those falls were dubbed “Judy Falls”. Pun intended.

5 thoughts on “Judy’s tales: The Waterfall Incident

  1. Thanks for sharing this story, Steph. You captured how adventurous your mother was and how she lived each day to the fullest. Today will be tough, but hang in there; I’ll be thinking of you today.

  2. I. Love. This. What a wonderful way to honor the memory of your mom on the 11th of each month. This story had me laughing, I can only imagine the screams and such when you saw your mom crawling. And Judy Falls! Love it. (p.s. can you leave out the rodent part next time, mkay? lol) Hugs to you today, Steph!

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