A question which is left open for criticism, jokes, bitching sessions and in my belief, a question one cannot really answer truthfully.
So far, in my lifetime, I have had 2 mother-in-laws. I am one of the fortunate ones who admired and loved both women in different fashions. Why I am writing about this I do not know, all I know is I'm feeling melancholy today and a whole bucket of emotions are coming forth regarding one mother-in-law in particular, and that's mother-in-law number 1.
From 1976 until 1982 I was around a women who, to me, was amazing. She performed no miracles, was a simple housewife enduring, at times, the doldrums of life but was a constant for 5 children and a husband day in and day out.
We all have something through our sense of sight, smell and touch which triggers emotions beyond our scope. Images appear out of nowhere which leads you to a different path where sometimes there is no U-turn, stop or caution sign warning us of our next thought and whether we should go there or not.
This morning, my melancholy mood took me to a vision of my former mother-in-law sitting at her kitchen table, facing so she could see into the living room. In this particular spot, she could see if anyone was coming in to her domain. I call it "her domain" for that is where I remember her being most of the time. I felt like my face conformed into hers when this mood struck me. I often remember her sitting at the table, elbow propped upon it with her hand holding her face as if she was all tuckered out. I'm sure she was. Her quite moods were not to make one uncomfortable but merely made one concerned if she was doing to much, worrying too much, or what she had to fix for dinner later in the day/week. Her kitchen table was a hub of activity. It saw many early morning Yahtzee games with her friend, afternoon lunches with her husband, nightly family dinners and coffee sessions throughout the week.
I then put on my white, ankle sport socks and that road took me to Christmas. Every year, her husband would present her with a box, and I mean a box, full of white sport socks for her. I often wonder how many pairs she went through during the year, and how many socks came out of her washer and dryer as a singleton.
When I make homemade bread, at least that's what I call it, even if it comes out of a bread machine, my sense of smell overpowers my thoughts. Each time a loaf is baking, the smell brings me to Thompson Avenue where many, many loaves of bread had been made, sitting around the kitchen cooling just waiting to be cut open to have a big slab of butter placed smack dab in the middle of a slice for you to enjoy a bit of heaven. I never did know why so many loaves were made. Did she give them away to friends or freeze them for later consumption?
Her kitchen was simple but great. I can still visualize her homemade french fries, the greasy paper which lay beneath them as they so call, drip dry. I remember the stove she cooked on, which was not your conventional stove as we know it today, but a hugh wood burning stove. I remember her refrigerator eating the quarters it was feed by her to keep running so nothing would spoil only to stay fresh for the next hand that needed nutrition throughout the day.
I think about the Wrangler jeans she always wore, along with her multiple sweatshirts that came in a variety of colors. I can so relate to her choice of clothing now that I'm a "stay at home mom". The only difference is my jeans come from the gap and my sweatshirts have some sort of tacky logo on the front.
Baseball season has begun with so many fans glued to their television sets, day after day, watching inning after inning. This women loved baseball and was a true Yankee fan, she still is from what I hear. With her husband being a Dodgers fan, a great - fun - rivalry begun and didn't end until the last man was out in the fall. From what I hear, her husband has thrown in the towel and has decided, after 50+ years to join her in rooting for the Yankees.
Occasionally I see her in A.C. Moore craft store, shopping for materials to create another one of her amazing projects. She is talented in more ways than one. She is not like any other person who has seen their share of heartache, love lost, disappointment, loneliness or plans gone awry but what I can say is this. Her joys have been abundant over the years. She has seen her children grow and become productive people, she has welcomed grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with so much love one cannot measure. She has stood by a man, who at times, I'm sure, could be difficult but has been there for better or for worse til death due us part. This is a love that has endured and succeeded through the years and I admire her for her tenacity and strength.
Usually when a daughter-in-law leaves a family, she tries to put as many memories out of her mind due to "her" insoluble experience. I have never done that. For 30 years I've continued to think about many warm, happy and funny experiences I've shared with my former mother-in-law, and I know they are thoughts that will remain with me until the day I die.