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Tricia Muse

Muse headshotWhen I was asked to describe the influence my mother had on me, it took me longer than expected to write this. I do not normally procrastinate; however, the task of describing my mother’s influence on me is daunting. My mother, Mary B. Muse ’50, cast a shadow far larger than her petite frame and her accomplishments would intimidate even the most secure personality. She served as a lieutenant in the Navy (WAVES) during World War II and was one of only three women in her law school class. After graduation, she operated a successful business (a nursing home) for over 25 years. She then sold it, began practicing law with my father, Bob Muse, and eventually became a justice of the probate court in Massachusetts. She served on councils and boards of every community she was a part of: Emmanuel College, BC Law, her parish church, the Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers, Brookline Town Meeting, the Judicial Nominating Committee, ad hoc judicial groups, as well as various charities. And, she did all this while raising 11 children with my father.

Thus, the challenge of expressing the impact of someone whom the priest at her funeral described as “practically perfect.” What could I possibly add, I thought. Then, I heard my mother’s lifelong refrain: “Do the best you can.” So, lessons that I learned from my mother… Actually, apart from the foregoing words of encouragement and its corollary: “Everything will work out,” my mother rarely gave advice. Instead, she taught by example. Back in the days before “parent” was a verb, we simply watched and imitated (or tried to). I learned effort was the key to success because my mother worked harder than anyone I knew. I learned that women could do anything, because she did… everything. I learned the importance of giving back to those people and institutions that support me because she was steadfastly loyal to her friends, church and alma maters. I learned how to love and guide my children, because I knew my mother loved me no matter what.

 

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My story is far less illustrious but does have a few parallels. I have four children, a paltry number by comparison, but “parent” is now a verb and does require more time. I worked as a full-time public defender until my second child was born, but then, like my mother, operated a small business–in my case, a bed-and-breakfast in Boston’s North End for the past 13 years. Like her, I re-entered the practice of law after a hiatus, and for five years, I have been working part-time. In the very near future, I plan to practice criminal law full-time. Admittedly, I am a little anxious at the prospect of relying solely on my legal practice at this stage of my life, but I will invoke my mother’s spirit and “just do my best.”

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