The legacy we leave

Thirty-three years ago my mother died in a ski accident. Our family was together for the Martin Luther King weekend. Her death had a profound effect on all of our lives. We thought she was gone forever. But then each of us began to knit our grief into an Ann Amabile suit. We adorned our suits with different parts of her - her mannerisms, her phrases, her words. And we fastened them together with her values.

The five Amabile siblings - Nina, Jeannie, John, Mimi, and me.

My sister Jeannie is fearless and dramatic. She has reinvented herself many times over. She started her career as a public defender in San Francisco working juvenile justice. She fought hard to keep those young people out of jail. She dances tango.

My brother John has a huge heart and wry sense of humor. He spent the early part of his career as a public defender in Roxbury, Massachusetts and then in private practice. He provided vigorous advocacy for his clients. He also made sure they had a decent suit to wear to court and somebody to visit them in jail. He loves food and swimming in the ocean.

My sister Nina has unlimited compassion and generosity. She has spent her career teaching second-language learners at some of the poorest elementary schools in Boulder and Broomfield counties. She never stops caring and advocating for these children. She spends summers, nights and weekends visiting their homes, taking them to the pool or a play, and showing them they matter.

My sister Mimi is tough as nails. She started her career as a nurse working at hospitals in Boston and Houston. She was skilled and compassionate, but never backed down from insisting her patients do the hard work to recover. She has never stopped doing that for herself. She’s a vegan and an animal lover.

My mother was inspired by MLK to make a difference in the world through strength and compassion. I am so grateful for the family I grew up with. Our mother lives on in all of us and we will live on in our children. That is something to celebrate. - Judy