There’s an adage I’ve heard repeated many times that on their deathbed nobody ever wished they had spent more time at work. Well last week right after telling me from memory her Social Security number and less than 24 hours before her final breath, my Mom did just that.
“I so enjoyed my career at the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” she said. “I wish I had worked there longer.”
My Mom, an economist and librarian who died on New Year’s Day, was a nerd.
She might not have identified herself as such, but she was definitely a nerd.
This lady took no prisoners. Ideas and words were important to her. Mastering concepts, too. At her dinner table you had to take a position and then defend it or you were going down, buddy, down, down, down.
She was a loving mother of course, but if she lent you her car she first memorized the odometer reading.
She had three children and I am clearly the least accomplished of those. She beat the S&P for 50 years running. She asked me at dinner one night to point out a lesbian. And she loved to dance, especially the Jitterbug.
Her father was a newspaper editor in the South who had been an artillery lieutenant in France during World War I. One night when she was not yet in school they awoke to find a cross burning on the lawn.
On her sixth birthday she got a box of chocolates and ate them in front of her uncle, Milton Ashley, then age eight. Milton later became quite a famous psychiatrist in Seattle and a longtime neighbor of Bill Gates. “I was eating all the chocolates I didn’t like that much, saving the best for last,” she told me. “Then Mother came in the room and made me give the rest — all the good ones — to Milton. That’s when I learned to eat the good ones first.”
Lois Cringely passed away last week at my sister’s home in Reston, Virginia at age 89, 23 years after my father yet far too soon for anyone who knew her.
I miss her already.