I’m sure you’re here right now expecting gems of wisdom regarding exploration technology, but that will have to wait. I have more pressing things on my mind.

For those of you who knew Herb Duey, a geologist with Amoco, Northwest Exploration, and Santa Fe Energy, his wife Barbara passed away Aug. 7, 2008. Barb was my mother-in-law for 24 years and one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. Mothers-in-law are the butt of almost as many jokes as lawyers, but I never have felt that way about mine. Most people would be lucky to know such a person, let alone marry into her family.

One of the things I admired most about her was her ability to juggle priorities. She was born into a generation of women who were expected to marry and then stay home and raise babies. Despite the fact that she graduated from Penn State with a degree in biology, she did just that – got married, had three boys, and followed her husband around on his peripatetic oil and gas career. She filled the void by volunteering for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the YWCA, etc. She also became a certified recorder teacher and Orff instructor (a method of teaching music to children). And she became active in the Denver Committee on Foreign Relations, the League of Women Voters, and Leadership Denver.

But the boys ultimately left home, and that’s when the fun began. Even though she was nearing 40 by the time her youngest went off to college, she enrolled at the University of Colorado and got a double masters degree in genetics and computer science. When her husband was transferred to Bakersfield, Calif., she became the state secretary of the League of Women Voters. This enabled her to travel to Prague, Czechoslovakia, to present an award to Shirley Temple Black. She also taught computer science courses at Bakersfield College.

After the Dueys moved to Houston, Barb got a job as an IT “trouble-shooter” with Prudential Health Care, later bought by Aetna. This job eventually entailed a transfer to Middletown, Conn., even though she was 65 at the time.

She was diagnosed with myeloma, a particularly pernicious form of cancer, in 2004. A stem-cell transplant held the disease at bay for four years, but it returned with a vengeance earlier this year. Despite the fact that her health was failing, she reported to work the week before she died.

As someone who goes home from work so exhausted that she can barely put one foot in front of the other, I have incredible respect for a woman who could fit so much activity into such a short period of time. I appreciated the fact that there was never any pressure from her to hear “the pitter-patter of little feet” once I got married, even though she desperately wanted grandchildren (four years and several moderately painful tests ensued before I was able to grant that wish). I appreciated even more the time she spent with that grandchild once she finally arrived – inventing new games to play, sharing classic children’s books, and taking an interest in whatever new interest my daughter developed. I appreciated her calm and gentle counsel to my brother-in-law when he lost his wife unexpectedly three years ago. And I appreciated the fact that she unabashedly applauded my accomplishments, both professional and personal, even though I could never hope to measure up to her example.

I will be singing at her funeral, and I’m writing this blog in her remembrance. It’s not much, but it feels good nonetheless.