My mother loved to read but was not at all "intellectual" or contentious about her thoughts. She was rarely opinionated, unlike my father, who was outspoken, often very funny in a sardonic way, and extremely opinionated on subjects ranging from the abstract (politics) to the domestic (my mother's family). Mommy was the mediator of the family—trying to soften my father's rapier wit and trying to protect him from difficult in-laws. Near the end of her life, after my father had died, my mother was in a nursing home, and she consoled herself by imagining that he was still there. I remember Mommy telling me, with an air of confiding an important secret, that Daddy was living "over there"—pointing to another wing. "He's in charge."