This is another post about Mina Millett. I did a post about her last year, but I certainly didn't run out of things to say about her. I think about her every day and miss her as much as ever. She died in November of 2006, but she will always live in my heart and the hearts of countless people who met her and loved her.
The picture above is of baby Mina happily held up high by her mama Zerda. Besides being a happy baby, Mina was bright and inquisitive as a child and loved to read. Zerda would take her to the library and check out books for her, but Zerda was a teacher and needed to check out books on her own, so Mina would go through the books for her at a remarkable speed. The obvious solution was to check out more books on every visit, but to do that, Mina would need a library card of her own. To get a library card, she would have to sign her name on the card, Mina Vanderberg, so she learned to do that.
At the age of three.
Mina's husband David has set up a lovely website of his memories and photos of Mina. As is to be expected, there are many pictures of their travels, and David has many pictures of Mina at different locations. I picked these two because Mina is not in the center of the picture, and I can hear her in all her common sense saying, "You have plenty of pictures of me. That thing behind me? That's the thing we might not ever see again. Take a picture of that." In the picture on the left, she is pointing to the Rock of Gibraltar. On the right, they are in Central America and in front of a tree full of Scarlet Macaws.
When Mina and David came back from Australia to live in the United States, we would often get together. While we would see movies or grab a bite at a local restaurant occasionally, our main mode of meeting was a game day. Most game days would include my friends Jodi and Art and sometimes friends of the Milletts or more friends of mine. One of the first was just Mina and David and Jodi and me, when the Milletts were living in an apartment in San Francisco after a tree fell through the roof of their home in Oakland. Jodi and I taught the Milletts the German board game The Settlers of Catan, and we played until three o'clock in the morning.
While some took place at my apartment or the rec room at my apartment complex or at Jodi's house, the vast majority of game days took place at Mina and David's house, which we referred to as Stately Millett Manor. We were always glad to visit their house.
For me, the pictures are a metaphor for Mina the hostess. Mina refused to be the center of attention, because Mina was truly a wonderful hostess, but I don't mean that in a Martha Stewart kind of way. Game days started on weekends around noon or one, and it was the job of the guests, Art, Jodi and me, to bring a large selection of games and any drinks we especially liked, so I would usually bring some Diet Pepsis for early and some wine for later, and maybe some snacks. Mina would have a large selection of salads and snacks and perhaps a light meal either for lunch at the beginning or dinner if we took a break.
It's only in hindsight that I think about how much preparation and planning went into these get-togethers on Mina's part, because it was never about Mina The Gracious Hostess. It was about Mina making an environment where she and her friends could be comfortable and everyone, including her, could have a good time. She wasn't always running around, the prep stuff was over. She was just one of the people sitting at the table, playing games and chatting and laughing. I am not exaggerating to say that these are some of the favorite memories of my life.
I want to thank David for putting up his website of pictures and stories about Mina, and I want to send my best wishes to all her friends and family who might chance upon this post. We miss you, Mina, and the world is a little less happy and fun now that you are gone.
This blog is still alive, just in semi-hibernation.
When I want to write something longer than a tweet about something other than math or sci-fi, here is where I'll write it.