Long-time friend fondly remembered

PERRYS MILLS Nora Mercaldi, of Perrys Mills, first met Judy (Garrand) Tatro in 1974 when they were both hired at Delagars in Rouses Point. She became one of my best friends, she was like a sister to me, Mercaldi said. It was a friendship that last way beyond their employment history and until the time of Tatros passing on Nov. 22, 2006. Theirs was a friendship that also grew to encompass both of their husbands, Leonard Mercaldi and James Jim Tatro. The two couples loved to visit each other and often went on outings together. Judy worked until about 1995. It was around that time that she was diagnosed with and fought the first round of her long, courageous battle with lung cancer. She had been in remission for 10 years when the cancer struck again. It was about one year ago, on Feb. 19, that we went to CVPH and they kept her there, said her husband, Jim. Over the course of the next several months there were ups and downs and Jim helped take care of his wife the best he could. She spent her final few months in the hospital. She had fallen several times and could no longer walk. Judy did manage to hold on long enough to see her 62nd birthday, Nov. 2 and to celebrate her 44th wedding anniversary. She died a few days later. The last time we went to see her at home Judy asked, why dont you cut your hair for the cancer patients? Mercaldi said as she looked over some photographs. Well I gave Judy her wish, she said pointing to a picture of her niece, Diana Canty, holding the 10-inch tail of thick, red hair. Canty had come right to Noras home to cut her hair for a donation to Locks of Love, a nationwide non-profit organization that creates natural hairpieces for those who have lost their hair due to illness. Canty, who graduated from NCCS in 2006, just got her hairdressing license from the CV-Tec program a few months ago, and was thrilled to help Nora grant one of Judy Tatros last wishes. I had worn my hair long forever, with just a couple of trimmings here and there, Mercaldi said. She was such a wonderful and caring person, and she fought so hard, I just had to do this, Mercaldi said.

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