Mamacita says: Bits and pieces of this post were first published on December 19, 2004, and December 10, 2006.
Some people are very, shall we say, “unlucky,” in the grab-bag of in-laws. People talk about how awful their mother-in-law, or father-in-law, or siblings-in-law are, and they wonder how the person they married could possibly have turned out normal, raised in that house with that crew, and from that shallow, polluted gene pool.
I have been lucky. I have been far luckier than I deserved.
My mother-in-law is a lovely, kind person who welcomed me with open arms and who loved me in spite of myself. She would not have chosen me, I’m sure, but once the deed was done, nobody would ever have known. She has shown me nothing but kindness since the day I first met her.
My children are her only grandchildren, and as a grandmother she has shown herself to be even more wonderful than anyone could have dreamed a grandmother to be. She loves her grandchildren unconditionally, absolutely unconditionally.
Whenever we needed her, she was there. She has always been there. Good times, bad times, hard times, heartbreaking times. . . she was there, and she was on our side.
She’s a writer. In fact, she’s a newspaper reporter, and she’s a darn good one. Sometimes I think she’s the only one in that whole building who knows how to spell. Her column is probably the most popular thing in the entire paper. She gets letters from all over the world, praising her writing. And, like most people who are very good at their jobs, she’s unappreciated and overworked and in spite of those things, she still produces a column that’s first-rate, and she’s never once raised her voice to anyone in that building. One of these days I’d like to, but that’s neither here nor there.
She’s generous, and forgiving, and warmhearted. She’s musical from the top of her head down to her toes, and beautiful melodies flow from her fingertips. For almost thirty years, I have loved to sit in her living room and listen to her play. Her music soothed my very soul. Whenever she was there, she played for us.
She’s a tiny little woman, barely five feet tall, and her only son is nearly seven feet tall. When they are walking together, it’s almost comical. She has a granddaughter and a niece who look very much like her, or rather, like she looked when she was their age. Her niece is so like her that people assume they are mother and daughter; they are both very short and smiling, both very loving women and it shows on their faces. Her granddaughter, my beautiful Belle, looks a lot like her, too, only Belle is tall, far taller than I am. Zappa doesn’t look anything like his grandmother but he has been crazy about her from the day he was born, and vice versa.
My MIL’s life has not been an easy one. I have always hoped that some day she would write a book about her life, but so far, there isn’t one forthcoming. I will still hope, though, because her life has been far too interesting to not share with the world.
I love my mother-in-law, and I hope she knows it. I am not a touchie-feelie person (no comments about my college years, please) and she has always respected that. I have always known, from day one, that if ever I needed her for anything, anything at all, I had only to ask. Sometimes, she was there for me before I had a chance to ask. She just knew. She knew, and she was there.
She has played the organ at the weddings of most of the people in this county.
In this little town, everybody knows her, at least by name and reputation. Both are solid gold.
I love her. What I mean to say is, I absolutely and positively love her.
She told me a few years ago that she had a beautiful set of Moss Rose dishes; her husband had bought them for her over forty years ago, and she kept them stored away in the bottom of her hutch. They were just too beautiful to use.
She told me that she had, in fact, only used them once.
She told me that the one time was years ago, when I came over to her house after an appointment with my obstetrician, and it was pouring rain, and cold, and miserable, and she had kept tiny year-old Belle and made supper for me while I sat in the waiting room for hours and hours (not an exaggeration) waiting to be told that my gigantic belly was housing Zappa. I sat down in her dining room and partook of one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had in my life, on those lovely plates.
Those gorgeous dishes, and she’d only used them ONCE?
I looked at her in wonderment.
“You’ve only used them once, and that once was for ME?” I asked.
She said yes, that was true.
“Why would you use those special dishes just for me?” I asked her in even more wonderment.
“Why would you have to ask?” she replied.
See what I mean?
In one way or another, no matter what, she was always THERE for me.
Just last Christmas, she sat at my piano and played carol after carol, accompanied on the trombone by her brother, Hub’s wonderful Uncle David. I have almost all of that holiday concert on video, and I’m so glad.
The family holiday “concert” is was a staple in our family.
Next Christmas? We’ll do our best, but it won’t be the same. Nothing ever will.
How could it possibly be? She will no longer be there for us. In just a day or so, she will no longer be there.
Except, of course, that she will always be there.
Lucky, lucky Heaven.