Thursday, June 30, 2011


My sister-in-law -- my late husband's sister -- called me today to express disdain at some family members who've swooped in to sweep up some items belonging to Julie A., my mom-in-law who passed last week.

She is especially bothered by the loss of her mother's string of pearls; she wants to wear them at her mother's funeral -- and should.

What she (and I) didn't know was that Julie had possessed two strands of pearls -- that which was snatched up the night of her death, and the strand she gave me before I married soon-to-be-deleted husband, to wear at my wedding. (Because I already had jewelry picked out, a matched set of earrings & necklace, I wound the pearls around my wrist to make a perfectly fitted bracelet.)

Mr. Soon-To-Be-Deleted and I had a small wedding, sixty people, and my in-laws from my first marriage were first on the list. I felt so honored to be given this gift from Julie -- it was such an act of love and faith on her part. I bless her, now and forever.

She was an extraordinary woman.
She was my touchpoint, my no-nonsense source of just about any info about anything. She rarely cut anyone slack, yet she loved with an honesty and fierceness that was unquestionable. She possessed a formidable intelligence, never minced words, and for many years she intimidated the hell out of me. After we endured the death of her son/my husband, we shared a bond unlike any I've experienced to date.

I recall her sitting on my couch two days after Mark's death, and she said (with the remnants of her New Orleans accent):

"Now T., I don't want you to stay single. You're too young, and you need to move on."

I was stunned. Here she was, stricken with abject grief, and she had the presence of mind to think of me. I was, and remain, humbled by that comment, and by her magnanimous spirit.

We grieve.

Here's a link to her obituary: Julie.


  1. Sadly, the swooping in of relatives after death is all too common. Rather than bringing out our better nature, the death of a loved one often brings out the greed and the worst in us. Julie would be appalled.

    Your story of her gift and your bond is very touching. What a blessing. I know you'll hold on to that.

  2. Tara, you are so right about the swooping thing. I find it so distasteful.

  3. Tara is absolutely right. Death, greed, and bile, sadly seem to be interlinked. We need more Julies in the world.

  4. More Julies and more Ts. . .
    Love and blessings on you both xx

  5. I know you miss her. I'm glad you had her.

  6. what a treasure for you, to have had the strong link with her, after your husband died. she sounds like a remarkable person. and she loved you.

  7. Do. Not. Get. Me. Started. On this.

    Hopefully I've put the anger and resentment behind me. It took some time, and was all wrapped up with all the other issues the illness and the deaths of my parents involved, as they were divorced, each re-married to one member of another couple, and died within days of each other in vastly different parts of the country. That was just the beginning. The kids of that other couple were and are, well, nevermind.

    Love, C.

  8. It is very sad what can happen within families when parents die. Hold on to your good memories of your MIL.

  9. Dear T, what a lovely, loving, tender post. I think both you and Julie were exceptionally lucky to have shared such a bond with one another, and she was just as fortunate in having you in her life as you were having her in yours. The grief will be a great one. But you will have her literal pearls, and all the pearls her natural grace gave you generously and completely. xo