A Letter to my Mother-in-law

5 Jun

momIn late March or early April, we learned that my mother-in-law had Stage 4 Bone Cancer.  As you can imagine we were shaken to our cores.  We had a wonderful visit with her Easter week, culminating in a family Easter service where mom even did some harmonizing on the hymns we sang.  We stuffed ourselves full of memories and we are grateful to have them.  Last night she passed on.  Although we miss her–terribly–we rejoice that she is with her Savior and visiting with her parents, sister, daughters, and grandson.

I’d like to share the letter I sent her when we heard about her cancer:

Dear Mom,

Mom.  Thank you for letting me call you that for all these years.  I don’t know your inner workings except for the obvious:  1) You love God simply and beautifully, and 2) You love Dad completely, just as he is, and 3) You love your children in a way that sees beyond their faults and failures to their potential.

Your love is practical and no-nonsense.  Once, in Gilmanton Iron Works I’d severely sprained my ankle badly, but gotten in the habit of dragging it around.  You barked at me while we were working in the kitchen, “Why are you walking around like that?” I was thoroughly chastened when I realized what I was doing.  I’ve heard that voice over the years whenever I’m making a big thing out of nothing.

Your love organized cabinets, folded sheets perfectly—something I never did get the hang of, scrubbed burned pots, filed papers, labeled bottles, crocheted baby blankets, and patiently threaded sweatpants cords through elastic waist bands.

Your love followed Dad to many countries and many churches.  You made friends in those countries despite language barriers with your sunny greetings and giant hugs. You made people feel so special.  You are a great example to me in this way.

I will never forget your teaching at the Ladies’ Meeting in Quito.  When you found out that most, if not all, of them had been abused by their husbands, you shared that when you married Dad, you told him that if he ever hit you that you would leave him.  You sweetly shared what a wonderful husband Dad had been to you all those years.  You encouraged them to value themselves enough to not accept the abuse.

I was so scared when I taught the women in Medvezhygorsk about marriage and child-raising in front of you because you were the one who should have been up there.  At the end, I asked you to add to what I’d taught and you said, “No, I believe you’ve covered everything.”  What grace!

Your trust in God has made the biggest impact in my life.  When you lived in a trailer in St. Augustine, I went to talk with you about the boys.  “Don’t you worry about your children?” I asked.  You turned to me with a puzzled look and said, “Why would I?  I gave each one of them to the Lord when they were born.”  Your simple faith convicted me and continues to convict me—who comes from a family who makes a fine art out of worrying—and also motivates me to know Jesus better so I can learn to trust Him the way you do.

Even your sweepstakes entering taught me about unfailing hope and optimism.  To you the winning entry was just around the corner.

With all your moves, you made a home with your teddy bears, collections of bells and artifacts from your travels, and your framed puzzles which represent many hours of contented family life.

Thank you, most of all, for teaching Mike much more than I can write down in this letter.  He learned to enjoy life from you.  Your example taught him to appreciate the little things with a deep contentment.  You taught him to sing.  You taught him to laugh.  Thanks to you and Dad I have a husband who brings much joy into my life, who loves deeply, and whose convictions are a mile deep and whose grace is a mile wide.  Thank you.  If the saying is true that the way that a son loves his mother is the way he loves his wife, then I’m the most blessed wife in history.

Love, Sue

6 Responses to “A Letter to my Mother-in-law”

  1. Maureen Love June 5, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    Beautiful Sue! We all loved how Millie lived her life and now each one of us can take a part of her with us from day to day. I will take the ‘not worrying about the kids’ part! My aunt Pearl just passed this week also. She was ” short and sweet ” just like your mom Millie.
    I am sure she will have a great chat with Millie now. They were both quiet peaceful unassuming women. God was very kind to have shared them with us for as long as He did. He must be soooo happy they are now face to face and in His arms 🙂

    I will always remember her. I will never forget what Pastor Sherm shared at Joe’s face to face. ” The Lord is My Shepherd.”
    We never graduate from being sheep, do we? much love, Maureen xo

    • susanjean June 7, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

      Thanks so much, Maureen, and I’m sorry about your Aunt Pearl. There’s a lot of reunions going on in heaven this week!

  2. Wendy Blevins Adkins June 5, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    This tribute touched me deeply. What a testimony ! I will keep this wisdom in my heart.Beautiful.

  3. Robin June 5, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    Wonderful Sue….so many memories to hold onto. I shared your blog on fb also. I love you!

    • Patricia Byrne June 5, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

      This superb reflection gives us a more intimate picture of a saint…Jesus walking and talking and loving through a simply wondrous human being. My condolences to all of you who were sheltered by her heart.

  4. Roberta McFarlane June 5, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

    Millie, Most special mother of mothers and friend. I so marveled many times with her simple faith about many things…and as we shared about our children…coming to prayer…what else would Jesus want? Pastor Sherm, thank you for being a faithful husband. Love to you and your family. Sue, that was wonderful…thank you, Roberta McFarlane

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