The first sentence in the preface of my book that attempts to help new judges "learn the ropes" says, "The best decision I have ever made was in choosing my parents." That is true because they always gave me stability, boundaries, stimulation and love. But I also believe that my successful "choice" gave me a moral obligation to help those people who had not "chosen" quite so well.
My wonderful mother, Elizabeth Polin Gray, was always my biggest fan and supporter. But she was a success story in her own right. Mom was raised in San Luis Obispo with four siblings by "old school" parents who believed that, after graduating from high school, girls who did not get married and begin raising a family should either become secretaries or sales clerks.
Nevertheless, Mom was able to graduate from UC Berkeley, mostly by staying at school during the summers because she had no assurance that if she came home, she would ever be able to return to school. She also was the personification of the old saying that behind every successful husband is a supportive wife. For example, when my father was the president of the State Bar of California, my mother was an integral part of the inevitable social and political demands that accompany such a venture.