Sunday, September 9, 2012

Becoming and letting go.

This post will have absolutely nothing to do with creative endeavors, even though there are many in the making.
Instead it will be my place to record some random thoughts that have flitted through my heart and mind in the past few days.
         My mother-in-law passed away quietly yesterday.  She was 87 years old and up until the last week in the hospital, she lived at home.  She did not have great health in the last few years and we are all rejoicing because she is now freed from her body that got old and sick.
She was a stalwart matriarch of her family.  A no nonsense, black and white, straight as a rod, righteous woman.
            When I came into the family, I was a young bride and had lots to learn about making a home and family.   I know she was shocked when asking me about what my education pursuits were and I answered..."fine arts".  In those days, that would have been considered a bit frivilous.  But as time went on and she could see that I was serious about raising my children first and being an artist second, I think she understood me better.
              In those early years, we were starving students and we had taken on many years of college that she never got to do.  When we came home for the weekend she would go down to her cellar and load a box of things that sustained us.  And there were always those extra things like chocolate chips and condensed milk tucked in with the hamburger packages from the freezer.  We were so grateful for those groceries.
I remember one birthday when I had not had anything new for such a long while.  She sent me 50 dollars for some wardrobe help and I will never forget that kindness.  It was a lot of money in my pocket.  She made little overalls for baby Steven and quilts for all my babies to love.  She made a quilts for my beds and quilts for all the grown children. When I had back surgery in Florida, she came to help with my little children.  When Steven got his eagle scout award, she came alone on the airplane to celebrate with us. She loved to "surprise" us at wedding receptions and graduations.
I was impressed with how much my husband loved his mother.  When we went home, his favorite time was sitting with she and his dad around the kitchen table telling stories and catching up oh, and laughing.  This bunch were great laughers....that hearty, laugh with your gut laugh. During these past few years of ill health, he called her every Sunday and went to see her as often as he could.  He is a good example of a faithful son.
           Lest you be mistaken, I did not always get along with Mary.  I know that my ways were not always what she would do herself, but she always made me feel welcome in her home. One thing that she did on every occasion that we might be somewhere that people might not know me, she would take me by the arm and introduce me.  Every time.  Cooking for her family was very important to her.  Many times she stood over us and made sure everyone ate well at her table!  She made cookies for every trip we ever made there.  The boys loved to raid her freezer for cookies there.  I have gotten many great recipes from her.  She took rolls to the widows at Christmas and bread to grieving neighbors.
          I know that she loved my children, and she was so good to tend them for a week when we had to go to company meetings out of town.  I knew they would be safe and taken good care of.  She worked hard at making them photo albums and recipe books.  I was especially touched by the way that she learned to love my autistic son Neil.  It was tough in the early years to understand his needs but once she figured out that he loved Lucky Charms cereal, there was a big box for him when we came. She also made him french toast because she knew he loved it for breakfast.
       So now that she has passed, I feel sad.  It was so odd to be in her home yesterday hunting for papers and instructions for the funeral.  That home holds a good 60 years of memories that belong to a good family. Not perfect but normal in all the ways that holds a family together. She was the last string that bound them to this valley home. When we return a few weeks from now to sort out her earthly things, it will be strange-this unraveling of her days.  I am not ready.  Not ready yet to give up those clear, cool summer mornings in that old house with bacon wafting upstairs to stir us.  Or the gentle breezes flitting through the massive trees in the front yard where we sat lazy in the lawn chairs.  Nor the anticipation of little children as we pulled up to see Grandma peeking out the kitchen window.  But time marches away and she will now be settled with her spouse up on that green hill that overlooks this quiet town.  And the memories of her will just have to do.


  1. That is very sad but you said it so beautifully.

  2. You put this very well -what a lady and what a reunion!