Monday, July 18, 2011

Remembering Judy

Judy Mausser
Last Thursday, I paid homage to my late father-in-law Dan Mausser on his birthday.  Ttwo days later – it would have been his wife Judith – my late mother-in-law’s – 71st birthday as well.  I would like to share the eulogy that I wrote about my friend Judith Mausser.

If you had told me that, almost seven years after we lost my father-in-law, Dan, I would be standing here today praising Judith’s memory…I would have said you were crazy.  Even if you told me last year, I would not have believed it.
In my mind, Judith had a way of defying the odds…she was superwoman.  After getting some negative feedback from her medical advisers last year, she persevered.  She got married and became a newlywed again.  She traveled to Europe and spent two weeks at a tennis camp and then – to everyone’s astonishment -- she returned to her cabin and summered on Lake Mary in Mammoth Lakes.  A place that was very, very special to her.

I’ll never forget her description of the first night she spent at that cabin.  She and Dan bought it after looking at several cabins in the area.  At that time, it was not the Shangri-La that it is today but she was so excited to make it her own.  In LA, she packed up her car with supplies and the family dog, Bentley, and made the 6-hour pilgrimage up to the mountains.

Oma & Shane
Upon arriving, she said she had her work cut out for her.  Chipmunks and mice had been living in the empty cabin that was built in the 1800s.  She broke out her cleaning supplies and got to work.  When it started to get dark, being self-sufficient, she made herself a martini and ate a sandwich, walked the dog and bunked down with a sleeping bag.  She said it had been one of the longest nights of her life.  She still had a few little furry friends visit her and, since there was no electricity at the time, a middle-of-the-night restroom run was a bit unnerving. 

However, in the morning, as the sun rose up over Lake Mary, she knew she was home.  And, Judith went on to make that old cabin a showcase home and one of the most wonderful places to be.

After almost two decades of living up there, she became a ferocious mountain woman who could hike for miles and miles in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range with her trusted dogs in tow – all five feet of her standing on rocks waving and yelling to keep the bears at bay.  But she was also so sophisticated; a demure lady who dined at the Bel Air Hotel -- sipping Kir Royales.
Judith had a certain élan and a way of making everyone feel special, especially me. 

In a modern world, our mother and daughter-in-law relationship was not stereotypical – we did things together.  We would go on long hikes, ride bikes, garden together, dance and she spent countless hours helping me find the perfect wedding dress.  She was my friend and I miss her very much.

Judith taught me so many things such as: to always be glamorous; always wear lipstick; always use a hankie; and always eat hamburgers off the china especially if it’s accompanied by a glass of champagne in the crystal.  But, most importantly, she taught me to be strong in my convictions no matter what.

Lastly, she also gave me some of the greatest gifts in my life…her son Jason and my sisters, Dana and Diana; and their families.

Oma & Shane
It makes me so sad to know that Judith won’t be able to watch our son Shane grow up, but I am glad to know that he had three years with her and, even though we help to shape his memories of her because he was too small, it does help to keep Judith’s legacy alive.

Oh, Judy, there’ll never be
Anyone else, dear, but you

--Elvis Presley, Judy

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