Why Bother to Pay Tribute to Your Mother-In-Law?
Monday morning, February 1, 2021, my mother-in-law, Berniece, took her last breath here on Earth and her first breath in Heaven. She was ninety some years old and I knew her as my mom-in-law for forty of those years.
I grin remembering her smile, her laughter, her voice when she sang, her compact physique, her authenticity, and faith. She was a prayerful and practical woman who lived a common ordinary life with joy, the acceptance of others, and enough patience to get along with most everybody. She grew up as the eldest of six, birthed three sons, and widowed twice.
I loved hearing her laughter. It came easily especially when one of her brothers told some family story with enhanced details. I’d watch Berniece listening attentively, then observe how her smile grew wider with each exaggerated part of the tale. Then her laughter would bubble forth accompanied by tears streaming down her face. Sometimes, she’d laugh so hard that she had to hang onto her stomach with one hand while wiping tears away with the other.
I remember her compact physique and how she liked putting on tennis shoes and going out for walks. Her hands though small, were strong. She held mine steady the time we prayed together for my prodigal and again when we cried together over the loss of one of my babies.
Berniece was at home in any kitchen and we worked beside each other more than once or twice preparing or cleaning up after a meal. She peeled potatoes faster than me, knew how to flute a pie crust perfectly, and while washing dishes, always had a good visit with the grandchild who’d been assigned as the dish dryer.
Her and her siblings were a close knit group. The first time I attended a family reunion I tried hard to learn the names of the slew of relatives who’d gathered down by a river, cooked over campfires and competed seriously in horseshoes. Though I learned the names of her brothers, sisters and their spouses, that was as far as I got. There were too many cousins and nieces and nephews for me to keep them all straight.
At that particular family reunion, I heard my mom-in-law sing for the first time with her five siblings. The sound of their harmony echoed off the canyon wall and filled the air with the most beautiful sound.
Berniece no longer lives on Earth, but she has left remnants of herself in the numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren whose names are numerous for me to remember. But when I see them, I know some of them will remind me of Berniecs’s smile, her laughter, her voice, her authenticity, and her perseverance with faith.
Why bother to pay tribute to your mother-in-law? It is worth it to honor those people whose lives, though ordinary, impacted yours with their joy, acceptance and enough patience to get along with most everybody. She was definitely one of those people.