I planned to write this week’s blog about the recent publication of The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fourth Meal of Mayhem. I was going to tell you how I still am happy dancing that my story, Thanksgiving in Moderation, was selected for inclusion in the anthology, but then three things happened that put the TKWC blog on the back burner. The three things were my son, Stephen, moved to Denver; his twin sister, Jennifer, passed the Georgia bar; and I attended a Women’s Section of the Birmingham Bar reception at which the Nina Miglionico Paving the Way for Women award was given posthumously to my dear friend Susan Bevill Livingston.
Let me talk about these things in reverse order. As the speeches made at the reception and the award itself signifies, Susan was honored for being a role model and mentor. Her poise, dignity, and humor were all cited as stories were told of how she quietly guided others while still being a star in the legal field.
Shortly after her untimely death last spring, I was asked to speak about her at a luncheon. It was too soon for me to do anything except recite her accomplishments. Stories and memories from our thirty-year friendship abounded but were too raw to share. I couldn’t tell how, because we knew our work caused our time to do things together to be limited, we would annually pick something to co-chair, co-president, or co-participate in to guarantee communication or how we spontaneously would find time for a quick lunch to solve the problems of the world or share our hopes and fears for our respective daughters.
I should have told the story of how when we finished two years as the first co-presidents of a club, it honored us by taking the money normally used for a president’s gift and purchased a single bunk bed in our honor at the Girl Scout camp. Because of Susan’s height, we were sure it had to be a top bunk. What we never decided was which one of us got the head and which the foot of the bed. We did know it would be used to give young women new experiences that, unlike our daughters, they might not otherwise be given an opportunity to explore.
That brings me to Jennifer passing the bar. Four years ago, she decided to attend law school and earn duo J.D. (law) and MBA (business) degrees. She received these degrees in May and sat for the bar exam in July. Other states report the results earlier, but Georgia waits until the last week of October so it wasn’t until this past Friday that Jen learned she was an employable lawyer. This is a good thing as she has a job waiting for her hinged upon passing the bar. She is going to be working for a large law firm. How does this tie in with Susan? Very simply, like many of my friends, Susan mentored her in her career path search.
From my career path, I could tell Jennifer about the corporate world and government, but not about the culture, environment, and application process for big firms. Susan could and generously did. She’d be delighted to know Jen passed the bar and has joined the kind of firm she’ll be practicing with. Susan’s daughter is thriving in college and mine is entering the legal world that seems like only yesterday Susan and I were its newbies. Shortly before she died, we discussed how weird it was to suddenly be on the older end of our profession but how exciting it was to see our daughters poised to go down the roads we once traveled. We noted we didn’t feel like we were ready to retire from learning and living yet, but we could see the baton of energy shifting. Jen’s passing of the bar signifies the passing of far more than an exam. Hip hip hooray.
Finally, Stephen moved to Denver. From his base in Chicago, he already had been doing some work out there part of each month but circumstances made it such that he needed to be there on a more permanent basis. His acceptance of mentoring from his brother and others, the maturing of his work ethic, and his wonderful people skills are all coming together into a pretty neat young man. I’m very proud of the kind of man he is becoming.
I mourn my friend, I cheer my children, and I think for a moment at what page I am in my own life cycle. Who knew a move, the passing of a bar exam, and attending a reception could stimulate so many memories and prayers for what’s left of the future?
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Debra H. Goldstein’s debut novel, Maze in Blue, received a 2012 IPPY Award. In addition toThanksgiving in Moderation in The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fourth Meal of Mayhem, her short stories and essays have appeared in Mardi Gras Murder, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, The Birmingham Arts Journal, Mysterical-E, Kings River Life (November 1, 2014), Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, MORE Magazine online and www.Alalit.com.