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July 20, 2008

Remembering Mur

Yesterday would have been my sister-in-law Murís 90th birthday. She has been gone now for two years. I think of her every day. She was a huge presence where ever she was. I learned so much from her and she was very gracious and kind to me. There arenít enough words to describe her. She was so gifted in so many ways. She was rather petite and very beautiful. She could be striking and she often wore clothes that made a statement. We often laughed about her animal print clothing: zebra, tiger, and leopard. They suited her. She lived a very interesting life and I often urged her to write her autobiography, but she was too busy living life to do that.

Mur was actually named Muriel but this family has a penchant for nicknames and shortens names whenever possible. She sang and played the violin and read voraciously. She kept a record of all the books she read and also of every penny she spent. She was a bookkeeper at one time and that was a habit hard to stop. She was super clean and almost germaphobic but was fun to be around. She didnít impose her habits on others Ė exactly. Perhaps her sons and grandchildren would differ. When her oldest grandson was old enough, she would take him out for Sunday Brunch to teach him how to behave in public. They would go to a nice place and he would have to seat her and converse with her and pay the bill, with money she gave him. She was the grammar police and would correct the improper grammar of her sons until she died. She felt that everybody should know how to play bridge and she taught her grandchildren to do so. She tried to teach Kay as well but I donít think it took.

When the boys were quite young she and her husband moved to Pakistan. There she played bridge and entertained and was very active socially. She would often say when a political figure was in the news, ďOh, we entertained him when we were in KarachiĒ, or Beirut or somewhere else. She would point out buildings on news stories and tell us where their apartment was in that building or in relationship to a landmark. But it wasnít boasting, it was informational. She was like the apostle, Paul, who said that he had learned in whatever state he was, to be content. She could be rich or poor or up or down and she was the same.

Mur was very intelligent and creative and was wise as well. She bought and sold and made good business decisions. She was a hard worker and wasnít afraid to get her hands dirty. She had beautiful, graceful hands and I can see them holding her bridge cards or her dominoes or fitting a piece into a perpetual jigsaw puzzle in her game room. She also had an intellectual curiosity and knew a lot about a lot of things. She had an instinct for decorating and her house was inviting and full of beautiful things she had brought from all over the world. Our house also has many things that she brought from all over. She had a generous spirit.

When Muriel was 80 her family celebrated with a big party called Mur -80. What fun we had with a lovely luncheon and gifts and toasts and speeches. In fact, we had so much fun that Mur promised that she would host a Mur -90 party in Palm Desert. Unfortunately before she reached that milestone she developed a neurological condition that deprived her of so many of the things she enjoyed: reading, conversation, and mobility. It took a long time for her to slip away and we are happy that she is released from her pain and frustration. She left us a legacy of how to live and live well. We often quote her about any number of things and smile at the memories.

Mur - Thanksgiving 2004


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