The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


My mother-in-law died last week. The funeral was Tuesday. She was a wonderful woman. Everyone who came to the funeral knows what kind of person she was, but I couldn't stand the idea of a stranger writing and reading her eulogy. So I did it. DH spoke first and thanked some special people who made the last few months of her life much easier and more comfortable. Then I spoke about Life with M, the Mother-In-Law.

I’m sure you are all familiar with the Dr. Phil Show, maybe you’ve seen an episode featuring several women talking about their horrible in-laws, especially their mothers-in-law. At the beginning of each of these stories, there is always a video that takes you inside the lives of the involved parties, so you can have true insight into their issues and maybe judge for yourself who is at fault. Over the past few days, I have been thinking about my life with M, the mother-in-law, and those memories came together into a video that I produced in my head. I want to share with you the script for this video, which is entitled, How Lucky Can a Girl Get.

The first scene is at a Passover Seder 22 years ago, when DH first brings me home to meet his mom. We all know how awkward that can be, but somehow she finds just the right balance of reaching out to me without making me feel uncomfortable. She is constantly popping up out of her chair like a jack-in-the-box, jumping between the kitchen and the dining room. At the time, I think it is a little odd.

The next scene is shortly after DH and I were married, and M and I have a little “heart-to-heart.” So, is this the scene where she lays down the law, and tells me how she expects me to behave. Yes it is. She tells me that she considers me her daughter and to please call her “mom.” And that pretty much sets the tone for our relationship over the next 21 years.

The middle of my video is a montage of special occasions, mom’s visits to NY, our visits to Florida, and family gatherings. This part of the video features 2 little boys growing up with their nana. There are stories being told, and a surprise drawer filled with small gifts, and the sound of laughter. There are birthdays with lots and lots of ice cream. There is always a phone call before we go down to Florida to determine what small tonnage of food needs to be purchased. There are many dinners and she is still the jack-in-the-box (but by now it doesn’t seem odd). At one of these dinners, mom serves the now notorious vegetable medley. We try, but it is inedible.

In the next scene, I drive her to Newburgh to visit with her friend J. We have lunch before we leave. When we arrive, J puts this giant hero sandwich on a plate in front of her. Not wanting to offend J, she eats the entire thing, followed by (you guessed it) a huge bowl of ice cream. I sit there and snicker.

I don’t want you to think that Life with M the Mother-in-Law was totally a bed of roses. The next scene features an episode that occurred a little over a year ago. She and son #1 go shopping, and when they are done, she asks son #1, “is there a place nearby where we can buy some refreshments?” When they come home, mom is carrying a huge bucket of ice cream. I am a little angry with her, because I do not want to be tempted to eat any ice cream. So there you have the truth. I am angry because she had the nerve to bring home a bucket of ice cream. I don’t know if she senses my anger, but she resolves the issue by eating most of it.

The last scene in the video is actually a photograph that I found on my computer a few days ago. It is a picture of son #1 and son #2 with both of their grandmothers. It was taken 2 years ago when son #1, son #2 and I went down to visit them and the 5 of us had dinner together. Over the years, M’s magic reached out to so many people, including my family. My family became her family. So tell me, how lucky can a girl get.

1 comment:

Stillwater said...

This is a tough one isn't it?
When my MIL passed, I couldn't stop crying. She was a wonderful person and I missed her so much.
And her cabbage salad..