My mother-in-law, Margaret Neumann, passed away on Monday night at the age of 96. She was a beautiful, elegant lady who taught me a lot about life and family. Until a few months ago, Margaret had lived in her own apartment a few blocks from our home, maintaining the independent life she had lived since my father-in-law passed away 26 years earlier. Margaret was a wise woman. Here are just a few of things she taught me after my marriage to Brenda.
- Always speak the truth. In the 50 years I knew Margaret, I never knew her to embellish the facts or mislead anyone.
- Put family first. She was fiercely protective of her children even in her later years. In a time when parents never took the side of their children against school teachers or other adults, Margaret was the exception.
- Take pride in your appearance. She kept a fastidious home and cleaned her own apartment until just recently. She was equally attentive to her own appearance, rarely forgoing makeup and always dressed in something nice. Margaret had a level of confidence rare for women in the 1960s.
One of the earliest posts I wrote for Dog Show Poop was Dog Show Life Lessons, in which I talked about how important the older members of our fancy are to our sport. From the first day I stepped into a show hall, I have sought out the company of those older than I. I am fond of using the Oscar Wilde quote, “I am not young enough to know everything.” These days, it is a little harder to find fellow fanciers older than I, but there are a few out there. The good news is that there are now some exhibitors younger than I from whom I can learn something. When you go to a show, see if you can find one of these people and ask them about their breed or the state of our sport in general. I promise you will get information you can’t find on Wikipedia or by Google. And that’s today’s Back Story. Thanks for the memories, Margaret.