1. She loved to laugh. She laughed with her whole body. She didn't even mind laughing at herself.
2. She really shined when she was up in front of people. This is one thing that made her such an amazing teacher. All through my childhood, she was involved in community theater. It was so fun to help her memorize lines, then see her put on a costume and become a different person on the stage.
3. She was a traveler. She wanted to see everything. She and Dad traveled back and forth across the US many times and all over Europe. She wrote in her journal every night on our trips and took pictures of everything. When we went on a road trip, she would choose another trip to read about from her journal. We had fun remembering and reliving our previous adventures.
4. She made friends everywhere she went. People were drawn to her because she was just fun to be around.
5. She kept friends. She listened when they had troubles, she shared their joys and sorrows, she never forgot to keep in touch. She had friends who had been close for decades.
6. She really wanted to get the most out of life. She never stopped. Lunches with friends, golf, trips, volunteering, making cheeseballs with women from St. Timothy's Episcopal Church, working part-time at Weight Watchers on the side while teaching middle school algebra. I know some of you think I'm busy ... well, this is where I get it! Two days before I was born (full-term), she was out playing tennis in the July Mississippi heat! However, I should add, she rarely passed up an opportunity to sleep in!
7. She was a voracious reader. She was always in the middle of a book. I'm not sure how she found the time with a full-time job, a house to keep, and a family, but she sure did. The last book she read was "The Help."
8. She was a good cook. Dad used to tease her about not cooking much. It wasn't her favorite thing to do, but when she did it, she was good at it. Even when she was using weight watchers recipes.
9. She used to worry about her weight. It was something she struggled with for years. She used to get a solid milk chocolate bunny at Easter and keep it in the freezer. That way, when she wanted to indulge, she could get it out and cut off a small piece to gnaw on for a while.
10. She was brave when it mattered. She didn't like roller coasters and refused to try sushi, but she loved to go whitewater rafting and traipse all over the globe. When she got sick, she looked death right in the eye and said, "I know you'll win, but you're not getting the best of me!" She planned her own funeral and arranged for her cremation so Dad wouldn't have to do it. She bought her own urn and his as well because she got a good deal on two. She asked a couple of friends to play flute and sing at her service, and she asked her brother Clay to give the eulogy. She asked my sister to write her obituary and had me help choose the music. I don't think anyone can fully appreciate how awful that must have been for her. But she still managed to smile through the awful, greet friends who came to visit, and comfort my dad. She was the strong one. She knew what was coming, but even when she was in pain, she understood that others needed to come see her to say goodbyes and gain closure, and she handled all of it with grace.