7 years ago my mother-in-law lost her fight with Cancer at just 56 years old, I mention her briefly on here but have never really told the story because I felt that it wasn’t really my story to tell. However, it didn’t feel right letting the anniversary pass without talking about her and what she meant to me.
Hubbie and I had been together for over 6 months when he moved back into his mum’s house, she had been away on holiday and returned home unexpectedly in the middle of the night. She entered hubbies bedroom and I remember waking up to the sound of her screeching “oh my God my baby’s in bed with a woman!”. Mortifyingly embarrassing just doesn’t seem to come close to how it felt to meet the woman I already knew would be my future mother-in-law in those circumstances!
Despite me being only 17 she realized immediately that our relationship was a serious one and she welcomed me into the family with open arms. I was expecting her to give me a hard time being with her eldest son but she never did and I felt like part of the family straight away. I guess that was just her nature she was open, honest, friendly and always willing to welcome anyone into her home.
What was immediately evident was what a remarkable woman she was and she amazed me with her life-juggling skills. Despite being a single parent to 6 kids aged between 20 and 3 and a hands on Nan to two grandsons she was still ambitious and soon embarked on a degree course at university. She took any work she could to feed the family and turned frugal living into an art form and if you were any where near the house at meal times you were fed whether you expected it or not, I will never know how she managed to do it all.
When I fell pregnant 3 years later and announced we were getting married she took it all in her stride and opened her doors to me, hubbie and the baby and welcomed us to live with her while we got on our feet. Eldest son was a difficult baby and she was there for me at all times of the day and night with guidance and advice, there was literally nothing about pregnancy, birth and babies that she didn’t know about or didn’t have an answer or advice for.
My mother-in-law always had a sixth sense, she could tell if things weren’t right and had a remarkable instinct. She was away for the weekend when I went into labour with eldest son 10 days before my due date yet she knew, baring in mind this was before most people had mobile phones, (yes, I’m that old!) so she had no way of knowing for certain but she was having terrible stomach pains and demanded the person she was with took her home immediately so she could be with me! They were skeptical but she kept saying ‘I’m telling you she’s having that baby’ and I was.
Apart from her children her greatest achievement was obtaining her degree, four of her kids were still young and at home when she put herself through university.
She was kind and generous and would do anything for anyone often to her own detriment. She loved her family more than anything and was the first port of call for her aging parents as well. She never grumbled about any of that in fact she was usually at her happiest when she was surrounded by a big group of family members.
When she was diagnosed with cancer she struggled to talk about it and I think most of that was because she didn’t want to burden us with it. She was always more worried about how it was all affecting her family than how it was affecting her. She would rarely ask anyone to do anything for her and we had to force her to accept our help. She was selfless to the very end.
She fought cancer with every ounce of strength she had and even when she was having chemo she rarely grumbled about how bad she felt.
It makes me sad that she never had the life she deserved, she struggled to make ends meet through almost all her adult life and never had a reliable partner to take care of her and grow old with. That was the very least she deserved.
I miss her. I miss her advice and the wise words she would share that came from her own difficult experiences. I miss sharing our new life with her, I know she would have just loved where we live and she would have been searching for deals on flights so she could visit as often as she could. I wish she could see how much the boys have grown and the amazing men they are turning into.
She was a truly inspirational woman who is loved and missed as much today as the day we lost her 7 years ago.