Judy's warm brown eyes sucked me right in. Her son David and I had only been dating four months, but that didn't stop me from falling for her hard. I was 30, and still reeling from my parents' recent divorce and the fact that my mom had just moved five floors above me on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I practically went from shaking Judy’s hand to curling up on her lap in a fetal position. I didn’t feel like a grown woman meeting my boyfriend's mother. I felt like a kid calling shotgun, desperate to claim a seat at her table.
Over the next five years, I got that seat. I spent Hanukkahs, Passovers, even Purims in Judy's plant- and music-filled home in Amherst, Mass., my picture hanging on her fridge alongside her children and grandchildren. To her, I was a done deal. I was family. To David, not so much.