This picture was taken the day of Jerry's and Mona's wedding in 1984. I wonder what Mona was thinking when it was taken. If I'd been there, if I know Mona, she'd probably have shared her feelings with me. One thing is for sure... she isn't hesitant about saying what she thinks. We can always count on her common sense and upfront way of dealing with the issue of the day. I've always admired her honesty and forthrightness and appreciated her non-judgemental support. She's a good listener and one from whom one can expect a tactful, honest response. Some of my favorite memories of Mona are our first real conversation, several of our phone conversations in the last few years, one on the beach last summer and one, which wasn't exactly a conversation, on Nov. 22 of last year, and all of the last year. In the first, we were at the beach (Virginia Beach), the summer of 1984 and I was in awe of and curious about the fact that she'd come to the U.S. only a few years before, lived with Jimmy and Marilyn as their nanny for Katie and Caroline , married Jerry, (after meeting Jim on an airplane in Europe, but don't get me started on that story. Talk about weird. It's one of the select stories I tell to my friends about my family. How many people do you know whose Norwegian sister-in-law met one brother on a plane in Europe when she was twenty or so, came to live with him and his wife as a nanny, then married another brother? I mean, seriously, that's unusual.) and I was asking her how she felt about leaving her country to spend her adult life in another country. That's amazing to me and I've always been impressed with her strength and loyalty to the cause (whatever that cause may be.) Shoot, I've only moved to Texas and I feel the pull of my homeland pretty much all the time. Plus, that day, she told me, when asked what one of the main differences between the two worlds was, that they eat more fish in Norway which stuck in my mind because I don't particularly like fish. Over the years, she wrote the occasional letter and the much-anticipated Christmas newsletter, we talked over the phone now and then and visited occasionally in person (including the time that they came to Texas, in the 80's, in their new Volvo with heated seats and a laptop, one of the first I'd ever seen, when she broke out in hives because she was allergic to dogs and horses. No one told me in advance. We had a dog and, also, took them to a dusty, dirty rodeo -they're full of horses, you know. She hasn't been back since.) We've had some phone conversations, in the last few years, dominated by my obsessive-compulsive rambling, that she handled perfectly and helped me a lot. Last summer, we had great conversation, again, at the beach. That was one of those heart-to-heart, meaning of life conversations - my favorite kind. In fact, any other kind is almost a waste of time, in my mind - I love sharing deep feelings! The night Mom died, Mona welcomed us all into her home, served a delicious Thanksgiving dinner and left me with a warm memory of her kindness and hospitality. She took that hospitality and kindness much further by hosting Billy for the vast majority of the last year, for which we're all grateful. Mona's only fault, as I see it, is that she's tall and thin and young. I can forgive her for that since she's pretty great otherwise. Happy Birthday, Mona. I love you and hope to get to see you soon.