s an avid
theater fan, I
Emmys. In fact, I even watch the
obscure ones—the BAFTAs
(British Academy of Film and
Television Arts) and the SAG
(Screen Actors Guild) Awards.
Without fail, all of the award recipients,
one way or another, thank their wives,
husbands, parents, mentors, friends and
coworkers who made their success possible.
I see the same thing—without all the
glam and glitter—when I attend judicial
investitures. Newly invested judges and justices invariably thank all of the family members, coworkers and mentors who helped
them succeed. We appreciate the sentiment, surely. But given the individual effort
necessary to succeed as a performer or a
judge, and the fact that we never see the
role that others play in their lives, how true
is that, really? Do we truly believe that?
Well, I do, and I discovered tangible
proof of it in the last few months.
My mother, Marie Howe, died in 2003
at the age of 85. For the last decade of
her life, she lived in assisted living homes,
where personal space was precious. During
that time, she painfully yet ruthlessly winnowed her possessions until she had with
her only those things that she absolutely
needed and those things that—while not
practically useful—she could not part with.
Those things she could not part with she
packed away in a storage ottoman.
When she died, I took the ottoman
and—though I mourned her passing—
never opened it. You accept the loss of a
loved one and carry on with the forward-looking business of living.
Last year, however, I moved into a new
house. Not wanting to move anything that
did not need to be moved, I opened the
ottoman to see what was inside. What I
discovered were photographs, papers, and
mementos of my father, my brother, me,
her brothers and sisters—the things that
she valued the most. One thing stood out
to me, though: a carbon copy of a letter
HON. RANDALL HOWE is a
Judge on the Arizona Court of
Appeals, Division 1.