Thursday, August 14, 2014

About the In-Laws...

It's been a rough summer around here. In May, my gentle and much loved mother-in-law passed away rather suddenly. She suffered a brain aneurysm and passed almost two weeks later. At the same time, both of my sisters' mothers-in-law were ill as well. One, thankfully, was very ill, but it was acute and she went home and is doing well. The other, sadly, passed away after years of illness that culminated faster than expected.

These events have had me reflecting all summer on the way we build families, how we live with one another, and the culture in America in general. We are not really supposed to get along with the in-laws. People make jokes about mothers-in-law all the time, running them down as interfering, or just plain mean. It is, arguably, rather difficult to get along with people you have inserted into your life because you happen to love one of their children. I was very, very blessed in this regard. My mother-in-law, Laquaita, was nothing but love and kindness to me, and especially to my daughter, Meg. Meg was treated as though she had been born to their family. For that, I have always been grateful.

Laquaita never made demands, was always so supportive and helpful, and never batted an eye when she found out we were having another baby. She rejoiced. I was always thankful that we could call her with the news of a new baby and know for a fact we would only hear joy. I know she prayed and worried for us, and shared my love for dressing the kids up. I loved getting my kids ready to go see her, as she made over them and fussed. She once told me that whenever there was a family event, she couldn't wait to see what I put on my girls because they always looked so cute. I loved hearing that, and made sure to dress them up because it gave her pleasure to see them looking smart.

Laquaita wanted her family to be harmonious and happy, but, as families are made up of humans with differing lifestyles and opinions, that was not always the case. She didn't try to intervene, but instead let everyone work things out for themselves, offering love in all directions. I personally think this must have taken a lot of strength, and a huge amount of tongue biting. She probably won a great spot in heaven for her restraint, a rare commodity in any family. I hope I am able to be as loving as she was when I become a mother-in-law.

As we have built our families from our original family unit, we have been blessed with wonderful people on all sides. The other grandmothers have passed on traditions, new vocabulary and recipes. Our lives have been enormously enriched by these people. My kids have adopted words like "brand clean, gummy chewies and grandma juice". They make the "I love you" sign when leaving and give giant, squeezey bear hugs. All things they learned from grandparents or their cousins' grandparents.

They have watched their grandparents and the grandparents-in-law persevere through health challenges with strength and love. They have seen their grandfathers grieve with dignity, while allowing the kids to see their pain and tears, revealing their great love for their wives.

We've been blessed by the people who have lived in our lives, both through birth as well as through marriage. I hope my children, nieces and nephews choose wisely when they marry, because you do marry the family when you marry the love. I chose wisely. We all chose wisely.

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