Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Death of a former mother-in-law

Naomi entreating Ruth to leave her:

I am no Ruth and she was no Naomi. We did what we had to do as daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. That time is long past and tomorrow we travel to Lake Charles to attend the funeral of this woman who so impacted my life in my younger days when I was married to her son. I was very young then and perhaps had not developed the skills needed to exist within the scope of the matriarch of my husband's family. My family had been so very different than this French Cajun
family I landed in when I married the oldest son.
They lived large, they argued at the dining table for fun after the dishes were removed. I was
shocked. My family was quiet. I had rarely seen anyone argue.
She was a champion French cook. I was able to make French toast, grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. I loved to read, take quiet walks, and was totally her opposite in almost every way.
For the first years we were married, the large studio portrait of his former fiancee remained on the wall in the dining room of their home. Yes, I am serious. She had been the one that the mother had wanted for her son. She was the local girl, the Catholic girl who had attended the same Church.
I was the outsider. I was Baptist. I was younger. I was from another state. I was shy, terribly so.
I was set up for failure had we lived closer to them. Or maybe they would have taken me, at my young age and molded me into what they wanted. They did not count on the streak of stubborn
Texan that lived in me. We were not meant for each other from the beginning but lasted 16 years trying to find this out. We did have 2 sons during this time and for them I guess it was worth the suffering.
I will be at her funeral for my 2 sons. For their kids. This is something I will do. This is something I want to do.
Through these last years she and I have became almost friendly. I have forgiven and she has forgotten my differences. We have both mellowed out I guess. The seriousness of those times
is lost somewhere. The children have mended the fences that separated us.
In recent years she has taken my side whenever we are all together for a wedding, funeral, or graduation. This was a surprise to me. I never expected it. NEVER.
Tomorrow I will probably cry more than anyone there. I did when my ex husband's wife died
2 years ago. She had become a friend. The Priest that conducted her funeral came to me after and said" I do not know your relation to the deceased but I am sorry for your sorrow." How could I say this was the wife of my former husband who had replaced me? Just left him wondering.
This former mother-in-law was always a Christian, attending Church more than anyone I ever knew. It seemed so contradictory to me when I was a new bride. So tomorrow I will celebrate what she was to her family.
Life is strange at best. Life goes on. The poem below is then dedicated to Edith, my former mother in law.

"We may write our names in albums,
We may trace them in the sand.
We may chisel them in marble,
With a firm and skillful hand;
But the pages soon are sullied,
Soon each name will fade away;
Every monument will crumble,
like all earthly hopes, decay.
But, dear friend, there is an album,
Full of leaves of snowy white,
Where no name is ever tarnished,
But forever pure and bright.
In that Book of Life, God's Album,
May your name be penned with care:
And may all who do here write,
Have their names forever there."
from Seven Hundred Album Verses, c 1883


Sue said...

Wonderful post and you are, obviously, a pretty special person. Thanks for sharing that with all of us. Take care!

common ground said...

You possess an amazingly generous heart. Thinking of your children and their relationships can be so difficult when we must triumph over our own feelings. Sharing what you have been through makes us all think about how we treat other people and how God in turns rewards us, even if it takes a lifetime.

The Victorian Parlor said...

What a beautiful tribute. God Bless you in your time of grief.