My adorable Mother-in-law!

“Just got back from a pleasure trip: I took my mother-in-law to the airport.” Henny Youngman

We’ve all heard the mother-in-law jokes.  They’ve been a mainstay in comics’ routines for decades. Young wives would also write into “Dear Abby” complaining about their mothers-in-law who bossed them around and made them feel inferior. 

This caused me to fear the day I had my own.

Jerry and I were well into our relationship before I even met my future mother-in-law (she lived three states away).  By the time she came into town, I had convinced myself that she would hate me on sight.  She would resent the girl who “stole” her only son and I wouldn’t be able to do anything right in her eyes.

Mom and Dad

Nothing could have been further from the truth!  My mother-in-law was an adorable, loving, caring lady who welcomed me with open arms immediately.  She broke through my insecurities and made me feel like a member of her family from day one.  I was not “just” her daughter-in-law, I was her child.

It was as though God took note of all the things lacking in my life and decided to wrap them all up in a cute little package and present them to me in the form of Thelma.  I came from a broken home and had a mom who never felt motherhood was particularly satisfying.  Mom was a devout feminist who was quite disappointed when I announced my engagement, and even after I had three kids, kept asking me what I was going to DO with my life.

Crocheting a baby blanket
Crocheting a baby blanket on top of Paul!  We never knew the gender of the babies back then so she brought blue AND pink yarn & waited until he was born to start making it

Thelma was the complete opposite.  She stayed married to the love of her life until his death.  She was a stay-at-home mom who baked her own bread.  She crocheted blankets for all of us so we would feel loved even when she couldn’t be there.  She knew every person’s favorite recipes and whenever we visited, those foods would magically appear on the table.  Never wanting to be the center of attention, she quietly stayed in the background, content to watch and observe.  Her world was her family, her friends, her church, and her volunteer work.  And, that was more than enough for her.

Thelma in her little kitchen,
cooking someone’s favorite!

March 27th marked the fourteenth anniversary of Thelma’s passing.  I still miss her. Her love and acceptance changed my life.  Because of her, I learned to revel in who I was meant to be … a MOM.  And, that was enough.  In her eyes, I was a success in life … and very well loved.  

This sweet, quiet soul taught me so much.  She showed me that motherhood can be your destiny and passion.  She taught me that caring for others is more fulfilling than trying to “have it all”.  She taught me that listening is far more important than talking.  And, she taught me that sometimes the “quiet ones” are the ones who possess all the strength.

One of the sweaters “Mom” made for me

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