Dear Readers:

I loved my gutsy, independent, intelligent, beautiful mother-in-law from the first day I met her forty-five plus years ago.  I recall it was a dark December evening and Christmas loomed. My date, her son, drove us up to a three-story house in the rascally part of St. Paul, Minnesota. I could see a twinkling tree inside upstairs windows filigreed with frost as a devil wind hustled through strings of colored lights suspended around two front windows. I grew up in a household that respected Christmas as a Catholic holiday and, much to my childhood chagrin, diminished the need for decorating, gifting, or baking. Today it would be said we were Christmas “minimalists.” And here was the home of a single mom (a oddity in the 60’s) that looked to be bursting at the seams with holiday spirit. When we were introduced, I shook hands with a smiling woman with a daiquiri in one hand and a welcome handshake in the other. To my surprise, she was not Patricia, but Patsy, a nickname that suited her to a T. To this day, I reminisce about the years we shared and tell anyone interested that we were best friends and kindred spirits. Little did I know that day that my future would include writing about her adventures. The plot thickens.

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