On This Day In History – March 19th – A Mother-In-Law Was Born

Remembering that today would have been the 96th birthday of Cliff’s mother, I have found myself reminiscing.  Stella was good to me in her own way and I have a lot of fond memories.  After Cliff’s death (which she never accepted because dementia convinced her it wasn’t true) I continued to send flowers for her birthday, Mother’s Day and Christmas.  The answer to her question, “How is Cliff” became “He is doing good, really good” and it was painful to wonder if she really understood why he never visited her.  I am eternally grateful for Jeff and Kim’s visits with her especially in her final days – and to Kim who held her hand and sang to her the day before she passed.  Regretfully, they were unable to make it to the facility before she passed the next morning – but they tried!  I grieved because she died alone.

She taught me how to give gifts – she never asked what you wanted or offered a path to exchange the gift if it wasn’t to your liking – she would simply say, “I liked it and thought you would too.  This memory has taken a lot of angst out of choosing gifts.

We all looked forward to her lavish Thanksgiving meals – and I fondly remember her saving the “turkey carcass” for sweet Emma who would be there the next day to clean up the mess. Emma always asked Stella to keep the turkey carcass so she could make turkey stew for her family and Stella faithfully saved it for her.

There are other memories I could write about, but the thought that motivates me today is the almost-in-a-whisper comment by a friend who said, “Nobody taught me how to be a daughter-in-law.” This comment came as the friend reflected on the possible eternal state of her mother-in-law and the fact that she felt she was never able to effectively share the gospel with her.  My friend had nothing negative to say about her mother-in-law; she simply made an observation that for all the self-help information available, there is very little, if any, about how to be a daughter-in-law. For a moment, it seemed, we just kind of looked at each other – aware that all those things young brides often find irritating are not so important at the end of the day.

And then I remembered!  Remembered the advice I was given a few days before my wedding. when Mother, out of the blue as she often did, said, “Phyllis, treat Mrs. Kelley like you want Cliff to treat me.” That simple statement was packed with instruction and served me well for thirty-eight years.



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