Every Christmas Eve, Wanda Green made sure that the packages her daughter Jennifer and son Joe Benjamin would open that night included new pairs of pajamas.
Some were cozy, fuzzy flannel with sewn-on feet. Others, stitched from ever-zanier prints, made the children shriek with laughter or roll their eyes. Each was a tangible reminder of Green’s devotion to her daughter and son.
“Her goal was to give her kids the best life possible,” said Green’s twin sister, Sandra Jamerson, 49, of Antioch, Calif. “She saw to it that they got a good education.”
Green had multiple vocations for much of her life, particularly after her divorce nine years ago from the father of college students Jennifer, 21, and Joe, 18. While working as a United flight attendant, she earned an associate degree in art at Rockland Community College in New York in 1990, completing studies she’d begun three decades ago in Oregon.
Green, whose United career spanned 29 years, also earned a real-estate license, then worked as an agent and an office manager for the ERA and Northstar agencies. She’d planned to retire from United in a year or two, then open her own real-estate office.
“She didn’t always have a lot, but she made sure that Joe had a graduation party, that Jen had a 21st birthday party,” said Green’s best friend, flight attendant Donita Judge of Denville, N.J.
Her extended family included her parents and relatives in her hometown of Oakland, Calif., her longtime friends, and even homebuying clients she’d just met. More than once, her sister said, Green dipped into her own pocket for a loan if a client came up a bit short at closing.
Green was a deacon at Linden Presbyterian Church and volunteered with church, school and community groups. Somewhere, she found time for a book club.
Always on the run, she depended on e-mail and her cell phone to keep up with loved ones, and she was planning a trip to Paris with her mother, her sister and her sister’s children after Christmas.
The trip has been cancelled. But Judge has vowed to make sure one other thing Green had planned for December still gets done.
“I’ll be doing the pajamas now,” she said. “I promised her that.”