December 5th is the tenth anniversary of Mary Risacher’s death. We were married for 28 and ½ years. She was an extraordinary woman and filled with delight those of us who were privileged to spend our lives close to her.

A large measure of what I believe made her extraordinary was her enthusiasm for others and the sheer joy she took in being with them. I can’t emphasize this enough. Some may describe her attitude as the desire to be of service to others. But it was far deeper and much simpler than that. She genuinely esteemed and enjoyed other people, and it communicated. People knew right away that they were special in her eyes and that there was no sham or “acting-as-if” about it.

This was truly extraordinary even among professionals — religious and secular — whose careers were defined by “listening,” or “being available” to others. In my experience, despite their sincerity, there was always a distance, always the feeling they were “doing what was right,” even when carrying morality to its ultimate expression — being “perfect.” In that respect, I got the sense their eyes were always focused on what they were doing. Mary, however, looked only at you.

She was not interested in “perfection.” Her respect and affection put her relationships into a different category altogether. I never met anyone whose emotional life was so genuinely in tune with the religious values we define as “love.” If the point of it all is to love one another the way we believe “God” loves us … Mary came as close as anyone I knew.

I miss her terribly.

Tony Equale