By Rae Ann Seaner
Mothers-in-law have a bad rap. You often hear daughters-in-law complaining about their mothers-in-law or mothers-in-law complaining about their daughters-in-law. My mother-in-law broke that mold. I really can’t say one bad word about her.
Her name was Mary, the same as my mother. I was blessed to have two Mother Marys in my lifetime and both of them were angels on earth. They were two of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. It was always about what they could do for you without concern for themselves.
I had a great relationship with my mother-in-law. We naturally got along, maybe because we were both open to the relationship. She was a mother-in-law and a friend.
We enjoyed sharing each other’s company at family gatherings and at girls’ nights – going out to dinner or a show, sometimes with my sister-in-law. She was a good listener – the type of person to whom you could tell anything and she would just listen attentively and not judge you.
My husband and I are Buffalo-born and raised and we stayed in Western New York to raise our two children. One of the advantages is that they got to see my mother-in-law and other family members often.
We affectionately called her Gma after the kids were born. She was the main baby sitter for both of our kids, which was a win-win for her and them. Gma attended the kids’ sporting and milestone events, from a 4-year-old’s ballet recital to high school band concerts, to wrestling meets and field hockey games. And, of course, birthday celebrations!
My daughter developed a very special bond with Gma, which helped her grow into the beautiful young woman she has become.
Gma was always there when you needed her, always ready to help out. I remember one time when the kids were little and my husband was out of town on business. I was so sick with strep throat that I couldn’t even get off the couch. The doctor phoned in a prescription to the pharmacist and my mother-in-law picked it up, dropped it off to me and helped with the kids, risking exposure to strep.
My mother-in-law was happy to be a regular part of our lives. We had her over for dinner at least once a week. In recent years, when she didn’t feel up to leaving the house, I gladly prepared dinners for her and stopped at her apartment to drop them off and visit.
It was the time spent with her that our whole family enjoyed – whether it was playing a card game, watching a movie like “Christmas Vacation” together, sharing a few days on vacation or taking a walk and enjoying a conversation on a beautiful spring day.
I have such fond memories of Gma and how she enriched all of our lives. Very sadly we lost my mother-in-law to cancer last year. She fought very hard to prolong her life, not for herself but for us – her family.
Gma wanted to meet her grandson’s fiancée and see her granddaughter graduate from college. Although we miss seeing her smile and hearing her voice, I believe her spirit will always be with us.
If your relationship with your mother-in-law is like the stereotype, give her another chance. There may be a hidden gem under the surface! Polish that gem and it will shine to make a difference in both of your lives, and your family’s life, too.
With Gma, I struck pure gold. She certainly had a heart of gold and was more mother than mother-in-law to me.