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One of the things I love about my mother-in-law is that she really taught me to drink. I knew nothing before she handed me that first odd looking tumbler of ice and root beerish-looking juice. I was raised by tee-totalers so my husband’s Irish-Catholic relatives were charmed that I knew nothing of ‘drinks’. My mother-in-law-to-be was a pro, though, and sat herself down every day at five o’clock to enjoy a Manhattan, expertly made starting with a glass full of ice and ending with cherry juice poured directly from the jar of cherries. Since I was young and eager to please I joined her and sometimes her daughters, for this classy sounding cocktail whenever I visited. Sharing a half hour relaxing with my mother-in-law while she invariably told funny stories, or off-color jokes she’d perfected through time, has been a delight that I often looked forward to.

Now, thirty-five years later I keep the makings for Manhattans in my own cupboard. She hinted at her longstanding pleasure from her hospital bed last weekend, as both a joke and no doubt a wish. When I asked her if she wanted a drink, meaning a sip of water, she held up two fingers and whispered, “Manhattans, right now”.

So, out of respect to my friend and borrowed mother, and overall beloved lady I had the pleasure to be a family member with, I had a double last night, with two cherries and the extra ice she always informed me was there to water down the drink as you nursed it. And I had it under the stars. With a live band playing, with friends, and with a summer breeze, all of which I know she would have appreciated.

She’s had lots of visitors since her stroke a month ago, so she’s had plenty of time to let everyone know, it is time now to have one for her.

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