Every summer for 20 or more years, my husband, children and I have vacationed for a week with the hubster’s parents and siblings. When I tell people, “We’re going to visit my in-laws.” the response is, “Oh! Sorry to hear that!” Many married couples do not have good relationships with their in-laws for any variety of reasons.
I am not one of those people. God blessed me with the best in-laws in the world. Monday my mother-in-law, Dorothy Ann, passed into the Eternal Kingdom of God. She was 92 years old. I will miss her very much.
She was raised in West Virginia and her daddy was one of the founders of the largest baptist church in Huntington, WV. At a time when women did not go to college, she did…in Chicago no less. Then she went to work for the American Baptist Denomination in Philadelphia where she met Dad and six months later married him! She served on national committees, church committees, taught Sunday school, kept house, raised three children, was a wonderful wife and pastor’s wife, was generous, funny, competitive, and a fantastic cook and baker. Her nickname was ‘hands’ because she could open any jar when no one else could. She braided rugs. She sewed. She was the manager of a hospital gift shop. When she and Dad retired to a continuing care retirement community, she ran the gift shop there too, served on committees, played pinochle, visited the sick, and went to Coffee Chat to talk about current events to name a few things.
Our summer vacations together included rousing games of dominoes and puzzles and yahtzee. One needed to be sure not to sit next to her when playing Mexican Train in dominoes because she was a formidable opponent and would just as soon block you as help you! YIKES!
Her shoes always matched her dress, as did her earrings. She used only Oil of Olay face cream. Nothing fancy for her.
She loved to sing those old Baptist hymns, but don’t stand next to her…Kyrie Elesion! She couldn’t sing a lick and laughed about it regularly!
A week ago Mom was doing well and looking forward to the hubster and I, Dad and the hubster’s sister going on a lunch date with her to Red Lobster which was to happen Saturday, February 19. By Wednesday, she was feeling tired. By Friday, February 18, Dad called to tell us she was not doing well, was struggling to breath and that the benign mass she had in her lung had grown exponentially since January.
Instead, the family gathered as a whole Saturday, including two of the three grandkids. The youngest was at college and sadly too far to get and bring along. As the day progressed, she faded out more than in. Each one of her children and Dad moved to her side to sit and hold her hand. Then the daughters-in-law, and the grandchildren. Weeping. Expressing our love. Chatting with her quietly as she felt able. Cracking a joke here and there. Each breath she took was squeezed out of fluid filled lungs. Her eyes began to glaze over. Her skin paled. She got tired. We cried harder.
It was like a well choreographed dance during which not one word was spoken to another but each person knew when to step in or step out. There were no difficult decisions to be made because Mom had made them all years ago. We were all able to be there with her, and she with us, in peace and love and support.
Sunday the hospice nurse examined her. It was just a matter of time and that the time spent with Mom Saturday was a gift. Our son said, “This is how it should be.” Yes, my dear son, you are right.
And so another one who stood in front has taken the step into eternity. Three women in our family have gone on to eternity in 15 months. They are now rejoicing in the Lord. For that we give thanks.