Life, Death, & Water: In Memory of Alice Gaines Milnor Norton, April 11, 1945 - July 26, 2022


August 2022
How to capture 77 years of life well lived? How to encapsulate all the thought, emotion, love, sadness, grief, celebration, and mourning on losing a mother, a friend, an inspiration, after 48 years? I don't know, or even begin to know, but the below is an attempt at remembrance, reflection, commemoration.

NOTE: I've been absent here - and online in general - for some time. The below should explain some of it, but there's more to the story which I'll share in future posts. But, I hope this is a proverbial breaking of the seal, and will allow me to write more, share more, create more, in the months to come. Thanks, all, for your patience.

How to capture 77 years of life well lived? How to encapsulate all the thought, emotion, love, sadness, grief, celebration, and mourning on losing a mother, a friend, an inspiration, after 48 years? I don't know, or even begin to know, but the below is an attempt at remembrance, reflection, commemoration.

This is water.

Those were some of the last words my mother - who passed away a week ago after an extraordinary battle* with Acute Myeloid Leukemia - said from her hospice bed at home in Boulder, Colorado.

I can’t say exactly what she meant by those words; I was in Montenegro, scouting an upcoming trip, and she was drifting in and out of consciousness, her mind, soul, and being straddling two worlds - the world of here, this physical world, and the next one, whatever that may be.

Kata for my mother placed on the summit of Kučki Kom, Komovi Massif, Montenegro.

I may not know for sure what she meant, but I can take a guess.

We’ve always loved sharing thoughts, ideas, philosophy, my mom and I. We’d spend hours debating deep questions, bantering and bickering and laughing as we sauntered around questions and answers that never came, at least not in any coherent, substantive form. Ten days before she passed, I sat by her bedside. As always, her default setting, her natural inclination was to provide, to entertain, to be conversant and focused, but her body-mind combination were beyond that stage. In a rare moment, she conceded to fatigue, and asked me to just read to her, share with her some thoughts, ideas, concepts and ponderings.

I started with one of my favorites, Loren Eiseley and a passage from his entrancing memoir, All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life:

I am an evolutionist. I believe my great backyard Sphexes have evolved like other creatures. But watching them in the October light as one circles my head in curiosity, I can only repeat my dictum softly: in the world there is nothing to explain the world. Nothing to explain the necessity of life, nothing to explain the hunger of the elements to become life, nothing to explain why the stolid realm of rock and soil and mineral should diversify itself into beauty, terror, and uncertainty. To bring organic novelty into existence, to create pain, injustice, joy, demands more than we can discern in the nature that we analyze so completely. Worship, then, like the Maya, the unknown zero, the procession of the time-bearing gods. The equation that can explain why a mere Sphex wasp contains in its minute head the ganglionic centers of its prey has still to be written. In the world there is nothing below a certain depth that is truly explanatory. It is as if matter dreamed and muttered in its sleep. But why, and for what reason it dreams, there is no evidence.

- Loren Eiseley, All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life (Amazon or library)

This brought a mixture of emotions to her face, a combination of deep smile and furrowed brow, appreciation and consternation. What other emotions could arise from profundity like that?

"Wonderful," she said, smiling, echoing the final word of my grandmother when she passed. "Matter dreaming and muttering, Sphexes and Mayan zeroes. Wow."

Moments later, Lori McKenna’s voice waltzed through the room, a track from her playlist (wonderfully eclectic, ranging from Leontyne Price to Jackson Browne, Passenger to MC Solaar to John Denver) called People Get Old:

And that's how it goes
Time is a thief, pain is a gift
The past is the past, it is what it is
Every line on your face tells a story somebody knows
That's just how it goes
You live long enough
And the people you love get old

- Lori McKenna, People Get Old

A smile this time, serene acceptance. We all get old. That’s just how it goes. We don’t have to like it, but we better damn well accept it, as getting old, dying, is - along with birth - the only certainty in any of our lives. This, too, was a subject we had spoken of for countless hours, the strange way we deal with - or don’t, as the case may be - death in our society. Instead of looking at it, discussing it, trying to understand it in all its beauty, pain, and complexity, we prefer to shun it, hide from it, deny its existence in this life to the point that when it inevitably arrives, we scarcely know what to do, how to handle it, what tools to use to navigate the final chapter.

Alice Gaines Milnor Norton with a little, toe-headed me, circa 1977.

“Dying is part of life,” I said, quoting my friend Tom Hornbein. “Death is what comes after.”

Tom had shared this and many more simple, profound thoughts with me a couple weeks before my mom began to decline, and I in turn shared them with her. That one, specifically, gave her both pause and solace. Dying is indeed a part of life, an integral and critical part of it, and she was embracing it with the same sublime beauty and grace with which she did every other part of life.

While she would proclaim her life to be one of simplicity, nothing special, just a simple one, going through her things this past week reminded me once again of what a remarkable path she took over 77+ years, one of passion and adventure and head-long dives into the unknown.

A small-town girl from Alton, Illinois, she always dreamed of a bigger world. A 1955 journey to France to visit her aunt who had married a Parisian opened her eyes to new places, culture, travel, and a lifelong love for it all. She studied in France while a student at Middlebury, becoming fluent in both the language as well as history and culture. She and my dad cruised through Yugoslavia on their honeymoon in 1967, and then traveled to the USSR - from Moscow to Almaty - with my then one year old sister in 1971.

After divorcing in 1978, my parents did their best to retain normalcy in our lives, and my mom dove into building a career, earning her CPA and then MBA while juggling kids and multiple jobs, eventually working her way up the executive ladder in the budding Massachusetts high-tech industry with Apollo Computer and Honeywell-Bull. France would again beckon, and she spent a couple years in Paris in the early-1990s with Groupe Bull.

Travel, adventure, and forging new paths were always top for her, as well as being close to my sister and me. By 1993, realizing we were not coming back to Massachusetts, she jumped headlong into a new adventure, moving to Boulder, Colorado, and starting a new life out west. Here, she worked hard, but also played hard, climbing 14ers and rafting the Colorado, adventuring to cross the Moroccan desert, climb to (almost) Advanced Basecamp on Everest at 54 and to the summit of Kilimanjaro at 57. Over the years, she got two new hips, two new shoulders, and one new knee, but none of it slowed her down nor elicited a complaint...she just continued onward.

“Share some more, please,” she said, words slurring slightly, her weakened hand softly squeezing mine.

“Are you up for a long one, Mom?” I asked. “It’s a bit unconventional, but I think you’ll like it. I think you’ll find - if you allow yourself - that it talks a lot about you and how you’ve lived.”

With her nod of approval, I read David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement address to Kenyon College. I won’t go into it all here; you can (and should) read it or listen to it in full. In very unconventional, very Foster Wallace-esque ways, he spins words and stories into a complex cloth reminding us that we all have a choice in our lives: we can live in the unconscious, the default setting as he calls it, with us - ourselves - at the center, or to live with empathy, with a focus on others, on the reality that as big as our personal, daily challenges, trials, and tribulations may seem, those around us are experiencing them also - perhaps bigger, perhaps smaller - but experiencing them all the same.

When we adjust our default setting to focus this way, we unlock the door, giving ourselves the freedom to see the world and its myriad, mundane interactions as “not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.” Wallace continues:

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom.

- David Foster Wallace, This Is Water

“Sound familiar, Mom?” I queried. “Sacrificing for people, truly caring about them, in myriad petty, unsexy ways? That sounds about right, sounds like you.”

Furrowed brow, shaking head. She didn’t agree. But of course she wouldn’t, perhaps couldn’t. While she adjusted all the other settings, the one default she was never able to change was the stubborn belief she was not good enough, caring enough, loving enough, simply enough.

But caring, sacrificing, giving as much as she could...that was part and parcel of her being. She gave selflessly to my sister and me, sacrificing much of herself to accommodate our needs and desires, our wants, our happiness. And it went far beyond our family: Her 2002 Kili climb was a fundraiser for the Webb-Waring Institute, raising over $250,000 for their research. In the early 2000s, she and a group of women friends in Boulder got together to join their skills and make a difference in our world. The result was BoldeReach, which by 2011 had raised more than $500,000 for select non-profits working to better the lives of women and children here at home and across the globe, from the Navajo Reservation to Afghanistan, Malawi to Guatemala. Her energy to leave the world a little bit better was, it seems, boundless.

I think, though, that what Wallace got to in the end is perhaps what resonated most with her, made her repeat the simple, koan-like phrase in the end: this is water. He began his speech with a pithy story about two young fish swimming. An older fish comes by and asks “How’s the water?” The two young fish, moments later, ask one another: “What the hell is water?” Wallace concludes with:

The alternative [to real freedom] is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

It is about…simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

“This is water.”

“This is water.”

- David Foster Wallace, This Is Water

She smiled again at this, nodding in agreement.

Of all the things that amazed me in her life, it was the end - the dying, in Hornbein’s words - that impressed me most of all. When she was given a death sentence eighteen months ago - virtually untreatable leukemia born of polycythemia vera with a JAK2 mutation - the common response, the default setting, in most of us would be anger, sorrow, victimization, the “gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.”

But for her, there was none of that. Instead, there was acceptance, but not in the apathetic, rolling over sense. Rather, it was acceptance of a situation beyond one’s control, one in which fighting, anger, resistance of any kind would prove fruitless at best, counter-productive more likely. The best option - the only option - was an embrace of the unwanted, beautiful empathy for even the most horrid of life’s twists and turns. This is water.

A few days ago, I finally opened the letter she had written and labeled: “To be opened AFTER.” Amongst the beautiful words, thoughts, and love penned somewhere in the process of transitioning - most of which are personal and unshareable - were sentiments of Barry Corbet, climber/skier-cum-parapalegic-cum-adaptive-ski-pioneer and great writer and thinker: “Life is complete and terrifying and drop-dead gorgeous, and I have just as big a piece of it as anyone else.”**

Indeed you did, Mom. You lived it fully, beautifully, gracefully, and taught us all immensely how to do the same.

This is water.

Smiling and loving until the end. July 2022.


* Hers was not really a battle, for battle - the traditional phrasing used for our encounter with disease - assumes victor and victim, winner and loser, triumph and tragedy. For my mom, there was none of that. Her “battle” was more of a dance, the reluctant embrace by her of an unwanted but accepted certainty.

** The full quote by Corbet goes like this: “With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see that there is no first life, no second life. There’s this life, and it’s everything we ever hoped for. It’s the brass ring we thought we had missed. Life is complete and terrifying and drop-dead gorgeous, and I have just as big a piece of it as anyone else. We get the whole ball of wax, with or without a disability. Like it or not, we are stalked by our everyday adventures, our ordinary conquests. Teach us to embrace them, to value them. Teach us that there’s no escaping the greatest adventure of them all — being part and parcel of the solar wind and the play of starlight, of the pull of tides and the convergence of hearts — this luminous life that is denied to no one. Not even gimps.”

56 comments on “Life, Death, & Water: In Memory of Alice Gaines Milnor Norton, April 11, 1945 - July 26, 2022”

  1. Jake, we heard last week or so. She was amazing. Loved traveling with her in India. She was thoughtful and liked to have a good time.

    1. Thanks, Dan. That trip to India was a huge highlight for her, especially being able to do it with you and Barb. She always loved her time with you both (as do we), and huge thanks to you for all your love and support over the years. Let's connect again soon - it's been too long!

  2. My condolences to you Jake! I recently lost my dad, and though you learn to live with it, I don't think you ever quite get over it. That's more indicative of how much you loved them. Excellent write-up; conveyed your love of your mother well! Love the Foster-Wallace inclusion! Good luck to you in your healing Jake!🙏

    1. Thank you, Ed. Yes, I think the hole left is a tough one, but a beautiful reminder of the space and love they inhabited while physically a part of this world. Good luck to you on your grieving your father's passing, and take good care.

    1. Merci, Molly. You have been a fixture in her life for so long, and so many memories forged together. I'm so happy you got to see her back in May, and I know it meant the world to her. Sending love and hugs to you all from Colorado, and hope you're enduring the heat in France alright.

  3. “In one of the stars I shall be living.
    In one of them I shall be laughing.
    And so it will be as if all the stars
    were laughing when you look at the sky at night”…
    Le Petit Prince
    St. Exupery

    1. Gladys, thank you for this. So beautiful, and so true. I see her everywhere, with ample love and laughter. I hope you all are well, and know we still enjoy dinner on the gorgeous table with the Alton connection!

  4. Gorgeous. I am only halfway through and am loving getting to know Alice and you better. She was an exceptional force and an inspiration. Chocorua - amazing, just picked my daughter up from 2 weeks on lake Ossipee in the shadow of Chocorua. And MCSolaar, I couldn’t love her more for listening to that. Hugs to you. Her spirit is everywhere.

    1. Thank you, Meg. You bring such kindness, insight, and spirit to our world. Thank you for that, for your writing, and for you. Hope we can all connect again soon! And, love that you were just under Chocorua, and that you know MC Solaar - amazing!

  5. Beautiful tribute, Jake. I have no doubt her incredible legacy lives on in you, and probably your kids.

    1. Thank you, Becky - you knew her in the early days! I hope all is well, and love that you're down at CC now! Hopefully our paths will cross down there one of these days; it would be fun to reminisce about Topsfield in the 1980s! Be well, thank you, and best to you and your family.

  6. Jake, you have captured your mother's spirit so well, even her misbelief she never was good enough. "My God, Alice," I used to say during the seven years we lived together. "You're as good as it gets. And no, we're not going to paint the living room blue tonight."
    The love that came from her and her family overwhelmed me for its sincerity and its consistency. I still receive cards from her sister, Sally, and her brother, George, cards of love. I am so grateful for the time I was able to share with her and her family--both the Nortons and the Milnors. She made my life so much richer and loving.

    1. Mike, thank you. You were such a big part of her life, and brought so much joy, love, and laughter to us all. I've come across so many great memories - from times in Aspen to the Harley ride and more - all bringing back smiles. In her final weeks, we laughed about a lot of those memories, and she proudly retold the stories to Sally, George, and me. Thank you for all your love, support, and memories, and I do hope to see you sometime soon. With love and respect, Jake

  7. Death be not proud, but Jake you show just how proud we children can be, and must be when our parents continue to be larger than life when we ourselves grow big.

    This is a fanciful, fancy, and so very warm-heated whisper of pride in a woman who took time in the gyre if life to create and nurture you.

    You’re a good son.

  8. I am lucky to met Alice and I never forget her . Sad see her so few times in France and Antarctic on Ponant cruse .
    Your mother was a great woman and I miss her .

    1. Merci, Jean-Charles. She spoke so highly of you and the times you all shared around the world. We all miss her, indeed, but I find her light and energy around all the time. Sending you all love across the Atlantic.

  9. These are the most lovely of thoughts, Jake. What a blessing you are to us all. Thanks to your mom for helping forge you!

  10. Dear Jake,
    You write so well, so thoughtfully, so in the moment. In this case your mother was your inspiration. And what an inspiration she was for all of those who knew her. I feel blessed to have known her as long as I did. Thank you for your words and that incredibly great picture of her and your dog.
    Lots of love,

    1. Thank you, Burr, for all your love, support, and friendship over the years. I know it meant a ton to my Mom, and to all of us. Hope to see you soon!

  11. Jake, thank you for sharing this. Truly beautiful....what a gift she was (and is). Sending love from New Hampshire, -Thom

  12. Hi Jake. We are from your past, next door in Wayland. Peter Wilson and Jean Tempel. We are so sorry for the loss of Alice. She has always been special to me and to us. We would love to catch up.

    1. Dear Peter and Jean, so wonderful to hear from you after so many years. I remember you all very well, and such great memories from childhood with you all on Birch Lane. It would be great to catch up, and I'll reply to your other message shortly. Thank you, and best to you all, Jake

  13. Absolutely stunning. Best obituary I have ever read. Better, it's the best meditation on living, dying and the dance with disease and mortality that I've come across. Thank you, Jake. Thank you, Alice. Your petty, unsexy sacrifices of getting words on the page are deeply heard and appreciated!!

    1. Thank you, Susie. You know better than most the dance of life and all its inherent challenges. Thank you for being such an inspiring and bright light, and let's plan a meeting SOON!

  14. Alice was a wonderful friend, a beautiful soul, and just a lovely lady always RIP Alice we miss you

    1. Hi Jamie, Thanks much for your note, and sorry for the long delay in replying! So great though to hear from you, and know my Mom was always so fond of you. I hope all is well in your world, and take good care!
      - Jake

  15. Dear Jake;
    I just learned today that your wondrous mother is no longer with us. What a jolt! I am so sorry for your and your sister’s loss, and that of the grandchildren she adored. I often say that Alice and I “grew up” together during those years in Topsfield when you kids were little, then not so little, and Alice and I crossed the threshold into our 30’s. I will always remember her liveliness and sense of adventure. She enriched so many lives. I especially recall and appreciate her kindness and love after Doug died. Her generosity and caring were unlimited. We’re all better for having her in our lives. Blessings to you all. Love, Cindy Boyle

    1. Dear Cindy,

      Wow, it seems strange to not call you Mrs. Boyle! But, thank you so much for your sweet note and thoughts and remembrances. While it has been beyond tough to have Mom gone physically, the wonderful stories and memories from so many have helped blunt the pain a bit, and keep her alive for us all. I know you know that all too well with Doug's passing, and that the pain may ease, but the absence stays. Such is life, I guess.

      Over the years, and especially in those last months, we had some great talks and shared so many memories about the early years in Topsfield, on Birch Lane, and with you and all the wonderful people we shared that bucolic time with. So wonderful! And, I just came across the full archive of Deb and Dolly's "Neighborhood News" the other day; Dolly has it, but we can send a copy to you all if you'd like. And, here's a good memory I came upon on the same:

      Finally, if you want to see some old memories, these are the two slideshows I put together for her Celebration of Life - enjoy, and feel free to share as desired:

      The Early Years - 1945-1979:
      The Modern Era - 1979-2022:

      All my best,


  16. Jake
    Your mother was a close friend of mine during the Monticello years along with Barb and later with Molly…..then again in some of the 70’s in Mass. I re-United with her recently and spent a few glorious days with her last October. I love your beautiful tribute to her and the analogy of water. To me, it’s a transition from this world to the infinite eternal.
    “To consider that after the death of the body the spirit perishes,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has said “is like imagining that a bird in a cage will be destroyed if the cage is broken, though the bird has nothing to fear from the destruction of the cage. Our body is like the cage, and the spirit is like the bird…if the cage becomes broken, the bird will continue and exist. Its feelings will be even more powerful, its perceptions greater, and its happiness increased…”

    After its association with the body draws to a close, the soul will continue to progress in an eternal journey towards perfection. Bahá’u’lláh wrote, “It will manifest the signs of God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness and bounty.”[2]

    An illumined soul continues to have an influence on progress in this world and the advancement of its peoples. It acts as “the leaven that leaveneth the world of being, and furnisheth the power through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest.”[3]

    These quotes from The Baha’i Faith reflects the illuminated soul of Alice and her life spent and her continued influence from the eternal. I think in reflection this would have brought her comfort.
    With love to you and your family

    1. Dear Judy,

      Thank you for your note and beautiful quotes you shared. Wow, those are amazing, and I know she would/is enjoying and appreciative of them. Those have now gone into my quote database, and will be pulled up again and again I'm sure. Again, thank you.

      As you probably haven't seen them, if you want to see some old memories, these are the two slideshows I put together for her Celebration of Life - enjoy, and feel free to share as desired:

      The Early Years - 1945-1979:
      The Modern Era - 1979-2022:

      Thank you again, and all my best to you and yours,


  17. Dear Jake,

    This is beautiful. Thank you so much for writing and publishing. Aunt Alice was so incredibly special in all of our lives. So cherished. I am missing her daily. Your words are quite poignant and are so on point. She was truly incredible. I loved the images and song as well. Your writing is wonderful. All so true.

    This is Water. I grieve with you.💕

    Much Love,

    1. Hi Ashley,

      I am so sorry for the long delay in seeing and responding to this. It's been a whirlwind of life as you well know! So great, despite the circumstances, to see you and all a few weeks back, and I hope we can do so again soon. You were such a huge part of her life, and I hope her love is always felt by you. Thank you, Ashley, and love to all,

  18. Jake - I think of Alice constantly, somehow hoping she is not gone. She and Molly and I grew up together in Alton and our friend-ships remained solid over the years. Your mother was an amazing woman. Thank you for your beautiful description of that woman/mother. Lynn Stuart Ekkers
    Sept. 18, 2022

    1. Thank you, Lynn. How I remember so many times together in Alton in the early days, and fun moments and memories. Thank you for coming out last month to celebrate, and it was such a pleasure to spend some time together despite the circumstances.

      In case you missed it, these are the two slideshows I put together for her Celebration of Life - enjoy, and feel free to share as desired:

      The Early Years - 1945-1979:
      The Modern Era - 1979-2022:

      Thank you, and much love,


  19. Beautifully written Jake, with so much heart and soul reflecting the magnificence and vulnerability that your mother embraced wholeheartedly. Thank you for this exquisite expression of life's adventure that Alice embodied with love. My thoughts are with you and your family. Sabina

    1. Dear Sabina,

      Thank you for the kind words, and apologies for the long delayed reply. She was so special to us all, but despite her physical absence, I feel her energy and inspiration daily, all around.

      Thank you again, and all best,


  20. Alice and I were close friends in the early 90s, when we both worked at StorageTek and a group of us took a ladies'self-defense class at Way of the Crane in Boulder. How proud she was (and we all were) the first night when we learned to break a wood block with a quick well-placed kick, much like we would use if someone tried yo attack us; we all chuckled the next day as we proudly showcased those broken wood pieces in our offices and warned our fellow workers to watch out for us! After our 'graduation' from the class (fighting off male 'attackers'-- videoed for posterity), we all celebrated at an old Irish pub in Boulder to watch the final episode of Cheers. Alice was such a wonderful person and I loved being around her. I remember when she moved into that beautiful house on 4th Street and had such a great welcome/housewarming party. I remember her calling me when you were in Greenland (I think) and had an issue with a rental car--thinking I might be able to help because I was StorageTek 's international counsel (sorry, I was of no help). Although a Facebook friend (we've been in the NE Georgia mountains for years now), I still remember all the great conversations and life lessons Alice and I shared. Jake, your words in memory of Alice are beautiful and I really appreciate am happy I stumbled across them on FB today (October 23 2922). Thank you for making my day and reminding me of a wonderful set of memories to reflect upon

    1. Dear Sandy,

      Thank you for the note, and the great memories! I think I came upon a shot of you all after one of those classes and put it in one of the slideshows linked below - so great to know more of the backstory! I'm so happy to came upon the post and it brought back fond memories. Those early StorageTek days were such great ones for her, and you and the whole crew helped her immensely in the adventure of building a new life here in Colorado. Such memories!

      Thank you again, and best to you and yours. And, here are the slideshows; the shot of you all is in the second one:

      The Early Years - 1945-1979:
      The Modern Era - 1979-2022:

      All my best,


  21. My six year relationship with Alice has been the greatest gift life has given me. I hope I have been able to adopt some of her immense human qualities.

    1. Thank you, cher Pierre, and it was so wonderful to see you, albeit too briefly, in Boulder last month. I know she cherished her years with you, and you two shared so many wonderful adventures together. Thank you for you, and I hope we can see each other again sometime soon.

      In case you missed it, these are the two slideshows I put together for her Celebration of Life - enjoy, and feel free to share as desired:

      The Early Years - 1945-1979:
      The Modern Era - 1979-2022:

      Sending love across the pond to you and your family, Pierre, and see you soon,


  22. My condolences to you, your sister, your family. Thank you for sharing this tribute about your mom and the memories and thoughts about her life.

    I worked with Alice at StorageTek; she was a wonderful colleague and we became friends outside of work, going for hikes with the dogs, playing cards, or just getting together for potlucks with friends.

    She was immensely proud of her children; I remember attending your presentation at Neptune Mountaineering (late 90s?). She was beaming.

    I will always remember her beauty (inside and out), courage, and grace.

    1. Thank you, Franziska, and so glad you two got to spend time together in the StorageTek days. I know those were hugely transformative times for her, and it was key that she had such a good and strong network like you around her.

      Thank you again, and look for her - in her words - "in the ether." I sense her every day in one way or other. Be well!

  23. Jake, in March, April and May of 1962 when I was a senior at the Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois, your mother and I were steady dates for all of the joint social events that went on weekly between the military Academy and the Monticello College Preparatory girls. I was introduced to her by her Monti roommate, Barbara Boynton whom I grew up with in Springfield. I was dancing with Grace Kelly. We both went our separate ways from there, but my memory of her, will always be there as the most gracious person I ever met.

    Please contact me and I will send you the two yearbooks of her two years at Monticello. They just came into my hands a month ago when one of my military academy classmates passed away. You will get some delightful history out of the letter that will accompany the books. I need a correct address, top secret.

    1. Hi Bud,

      Thank you for your note and memories! It's always great to connect with people from my mother's past. In her last months, we went through several of her old Monticello yearbooks and memories, and she recollected fondly times with you.

      We do currently have her Monticello yearbooks, but if you don't need it or want it, I would love to see the letter you have as well.

      Thank you for the memories, Bud, and I hope this finds you well.

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