Saturday, May 8, 2010

My Other Mother

When Mother’s Day rolls around, we pause to think of how to honor the woman who gave us life. We might order flowers, buy gift cards, take our moms out for a nice dinner, and find the perfect Hallmark Card.

On this special day, I can’t help but think of my other mother—my wonderful mother-in-law, Virginia. From the first day I met her, she treated me with love and respect. She was both nurturing and feisty. She was compliant and stubborn. Virginia could be meek, or fierce, depending on the circumstances.

Virginia had a multifaceted personality except when it came to love. Her love for family was unconditional and unwavering.

And there was no doubt Virginia was a wonderful cook. She could whip up a pie in a few minutes—her capable hands shaping pie dough with the confidence and ease of an expert chef. Virginia’s light rolls and biscuits were to die for. At Christmas time, she made countless tins of divinity, peanut brittle, sugar cookies, and chocolates. She packed them up and mailed them to relatives in Oregon.

Jim was always willing to help his mother in any way he could. He built her a home. He didn’t hire it done because we were on a tight budget and didn’t have the resources for that. He strapped on his tool belt and worked on it day after day until it was finished.

Virginia lived next door to us—originally we thought that meant she would be close so we could look after her. It turned out that she was the one that took care of Jim during the early years of his dementia. She fixed all his meals, kept an eye on him, and when he wandered off, she drove the roads until she found him. Because of her, Jim was able to stay home for five years.

After we made the tough decision to place Jim in long-term care, his mom visited him nearly every day. She fed him when he could no longer feed himself. She became acquainted with the staff, and they came to love her for her nurturing care of her son. Of course, the big tray of cookies and candy at Christmas helped too.

Her mother’s heart must have cracked each visit, but she never wavered. She outlived her son, and I know that was one of the saddest moments of her life. She found comfort knowing that Jim was in a better place. In her last moments of life she saw the gates of heaven awaiting her. Virginia smiled as she told us a large crowd was waiting for her—and in front she saw Jim, her brother Tubby, and “Dad” meaning her husband, Bill.

Her death was a much a shining example of how to live as her life had been. On this Mother’s Day weekend, I think of Virginia, my other mother, and miss her still.

copyright (c) May 2010 L. S. Fisher
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