By Lloyd Gray/NEMS Daily Journal
A Vicksburg girl, she edited the Law Journal at Ole Miss in a law school class that included a future best-selling author, a governor and a chief federal judge.
In the early 1980s she invaded the male-dominated legal world of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, quickly compiling an enviable record of trial verdict wins against much more experienced attorneys.
She gave that up along with a recently achieved and potentially lucrative partnership in a leading Gulf Coast law firm after her first child was born. She decided she couldn’t give her all to both a 60-hour-a-week job and a new baby, and if she had to choose, the choice was easy.
As a full-time mother of three, she was completely engaged in their rearing and totally devoted to their well-being, but always assiduously avoided the “helicopter parent” pitfall. She believed that as long as they knew they were loved they could learn and rebound from any setback or failure. She subscribed to the admonition that putting the marriage first in the family is always best for the children.
In her life outside the home she never met a stranger, and could talk with anybody, anywhere, anytime about anything and make an instant connection.
She volunteered at her children’s schools, and eventually was hired to work at one of them for a tiny fraction of what she could have been making had she stayed with her original profession. Yet she said she felt she could do more good working with kindergartners than defending insurance companies.
She eventually channeled her passion for seeing that all children have a fair chance in life into her work for an education-related nonprofit that brings parents together to improve their schools.
She’s the most remarkable woman I’ve ever known, and of course, she’s my wife.
Sally Guider Gray and I celebrated 30 years of marriage last week. Those who know us are well aware that she is the energy, the personality and the brains of this partnership.
They say opposites attract. In a marriage, that has something to do with completing ourselves.
From the onset of our marriage, it was clear that when leisure time presented itself, she was the one who liked to “do” while I liked to “be.” On Saturday mornings before we had kids, and as I was beginning a fine day of couch reclining, her question was always, “What’s on the agenda today?”
Thirty years later, and once again with a childless house, the questioner is now sometimes reversed. I think that’s part of what marriage is about.
When we married, she had little interest in baseball and I had an active dislike for cats. Suffice it to say that we were on opposite poles of both questions.
Today she’s as big a baseball fan as I, and I actually have a fondness for our two felines, the substitute children she calls “the babies.”
Cats and baseball aren’t exactly core relational elements … or are they? It’s in the everydayness of our lives, after all, that we live most of the time.
Of course, there are things we’d never embrace that the other fervently enjoys. I don’t understand and could never share her intense attachment to “Project Runway” and she still abhors the very smell of turnip greens, which I am certain will be served at the heavenly banquet. But we tolerate, even elevate, those differences.
We are one, but we are separate and unique. Somehow in that we find our true identity, if we are to believe that marriage is as advertised.
I do. But I’m also sure that my certainty has everything to do with the one to whom I promised, “I will.”
Lloyd Gray is executive editor of the Daily Journal. Contact him at (662) 678-1579 or firstname.lastname@example.org.