A few months ago, my beloved mother-in-law, Jenny, died at age 78. She left behind a remarkable legacy of art, both visual and written, that we are in the process of cataloguing and preparing to share with family members. As I read her journal entries, I find her guiding hand letting me know what information can be shared readily; her opinions are clear.
Jenny grew up in a poor Jewish family in New York City, and her beginnings were difficult. By the time she was 18, her father, who was chronically ill, was dead. Her mother died just a few years later, and she was estranged from her only sibling. Despite these difficulties, she became an accomplished artist, wife, mother, and grandmother whose warmth touched all who knew her. She was intelligent, funny, and engaging, and she often provided me with much-needed parenting advice.
Jenny left us many details; not just financial specifics or the carefully labeled boxes in her art room, but also details of what mattered to her, what brought her joy, and what brought her pain. The day before her funeral, we ran across her words about dying and how, though she longed to live for as long as possible, neither God nor anyone else owed her anything. As we sort through her belongings, the remnants of a full life, I am grateful for the many details she left behind.