My mother, Ann Luby, passed away yesterday after a long bout with leukemia.
Over the years I have learned many things from her and I have a wealth of memories to cherish, but her absence will leave a large void in my life. Needless to say, I love her and will miss her dearly.
When she was just out of college, my mother took a job teaching high school math in an inner city school in
I could not have been more than eight years old when she presented me with a slide rule and helped me to understand that numbers were more than just tables to be memorized, but concepts and relationships that reduced much of the complexity of the world to simple truths. I didn’t know what a Monte Carlo simulation was back then, but after she taught me how to calculate batting averages and ERAs, I grabbed some dice and lots of paper and created dice baseball leagues, internalizing probabilities and distributions along the way so that it became effortless for me to create mock baseball leagues, teams, games and players whose various stats were just as real in statistical terms as those logged in Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. Needless to say, when the rest of my class finally got around to long division a couple of years later, I just smiled and nodded my head.
Though she remained a teacher of one sort or another all her life, my mother always wanted to be a journalist more than anything else. When her career veered in a journalistic direction, I was there to cheer her on and learn everything I could about the process of gathering information, analyzing it, formulating ideas, and presenting them in a persuasive manner.
Only in the last day or two have I come to realize that not only do I find myself pursuing some of the same disciplines that were close to her heart, but in many ways the expression of my ideas here in this blog are the offspring of her life’s work as well.
The passing of the baton from one generation to the next does not always go as smoothly as some might have hoped. In this case, I could not have been better prepared. Thank you, Mom, for being a great teacher and for everything you have done for me.
Finally, no matter how near or how far she traveled, my mother always sent me a postcard. Mom, this one is for you.