When I was a brand-spanking-new public defender who had never had my own desk before, I had a fabulous secretary. One of those really good ones who you could trust implicitly to take care of you; one of those people who made you look good.
She became a good friend. She was a single mom, had been in the military, and was struggling to raise her son, go to school, work full-time, and keep it all going on the salary of a secretary at a public defender's office (I'm sure you can imagine that people don't exactly get rich at such a job).
That was nearly five years ago. Last night I went to a reception for her to celebrate her new position as the first full-time -- PAID -- director of a group called "Women in Transition," a group she helped start.
WIT is a group which works at fighting the effects of poverty, and at preventing poverty. It was started by a group of college welfare recipients in the late 90's, just when the welfare laws were drastically changing. They are doing good work, and my friend has been with them since the beginning.
She's not going to get rich at this job, either. Not monetarily, anyway. But boy, did she look good, standing at a podium, talking about the work she plans to do, and the passion she has for doing it. I'm so proud of her, and so happy that she is getting the chance to do something with all that potential and talent -- happy that she's no longer using that talent to make some lawyer look good.
Todd and I have often spoken about how in our professions, we are surrounded by people who have pretty afluent and privileged backgrounds; third and fourth generation lawyers. I think we blend in pretty well, mostly, but the fact remains that we don't share that background.
And I'm glad.
My life is full of people who have come really far from where they started. All three of my own parents, as well as my parents-in-law, have done some pretty major pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. My father was in foster care. Both my step-father and my father-in-law did tours in Vietnam. My mother and my mother-in-law each lost fathers a lot younger than you should. None of them had any money. And I've learned something about life and survival and what it takes to find contentment from each of them.
It's a good legacy to have. I don't know that I'll ever be able to live up to it, or go as far, comparitively speaking, as they have. But I think they should know that I know it.
So, for my family, and my friend at WIT, and all those other people who have what they have because they've worked for it -- I'm proud of you all.