My former mother-in-law, Judy, died in her sleep early Friday morning. She would have been 80 this coming Tuesday, and I met her when I was just 17 years old. She and I had our differences over the years, as in-laws are wont to do, but I always loved her. I think in many ways, she was ahead of her time, and because of that, she taught me so much about how to enjoy life. Because of her, I learned that it was a good thing to treat yourself well. She taught me that it was a good idea to have snacks whenever you are taking a road trip or just going on a Sunday drive. Judy loved movies, especially the classics, but she would drop everything to see a new one too. She taught me that staying in your pajamas for the day was sometimes the best thing to do, and that having a little chocolate on hand was never a bad thing. She loved the beach, listening to jazz and classical music, reading, playing golf, and traveling anywhere. Judy loved her friends and family, especially her children, and grandchildren. And she loved a cold Diet Pepsi.
She was liberal in her politics and put her beliefs in action. Judy gave many hours of her time to troubled adolescents, as well as the friends her children brought home or played ball with, treating them much as she treated her own children, which is to say she gave good advice, listened to what they had to say, and then loved them even when they didn't listen to her or do what she said. She coached sports long before I knew her and she could play a terrific round of golf, well into her fifties or sixties. But she loved her husband, Jake, for sixty years, and when he died in June, Judy lost her best friend. Despite being surrounded by loving friends and family, the light went out of her life. She didn't mope around, or complain, or get depressed, but not a day went by without her missing him.
Those of us left behind will miss her terribly, but I am better for having known her.