My mother-in-law was a very classy lady, who dressed perfectly, with hat, gloves and all the proper accessories. She was soft spoken, an excellent partner to her husband, a great cook, a wonderful mom. I wanted to emulate her, because she was the “Leave it to Beaver” mom everyone wanted.
She spent her young life being pampered by her brothers. Her parents were hard working immigrants from Germany, living the American Dream. Her dad was a Jack of all trades – a blacksmith, a builder, an inventor, craftsman and a sheriff. He raised his family to go to church, be good citizens and love God.
After she married my father-in-law, she became his partner in life as well as work. They ran the family funeral business and their living quarters were upstairs. This meant the children had to be quiet and respectful of the mourning families below.
She became active as a volunteer for many church and school activities – one of the original church basement ladies. Her expertise in cooking was daunting to me, since I never felt I could live up to that, but later she taught me some of her secrets.
Her husband passed away at the age of 56 and she was left with difficult life decisions. What to do with the business? How would she survive? There was no life insurance – can you believe it? You’d think that would be of utmost importance in their line of work, but instead they invested in cemetery plots. There is no need for any in our family to buy a final resting place.
With all of these tough decisions, her mind snapped. She became delusional and paranoid. My husband was only 22 at the time, but he became the decision maker. She moved in with her mother-in-law and that lasted for several years. There were expenses to be met, but she hadn’t actually been in the real work force for a number of years. It was a difficult time.
At one point, we had her move in with us when our children were teens. She stayed with us for a year until we could no longer meet her medical or psychological needs. She had been diagnosed as psychotic schizophrenic and was heavily medicated, so we made the tough choice to place her in a nursing home. She lived there for the rest of her life, which was several years. She adapted once again, as she had many times before.
When she passed into Heaven, I was going through her few remaining belongings and picked up her leather bound Bible. The leather was cracked and weathered, there were passages underlined, special little notations throughout and pages were worn and obviously loved. She gave that love of the Scriptures to her children. Her mental illness didn’t interfere with her love for God’s Word. That had been part of her for a lifetime.
Most people don’t have a very high opinion of their mothers-in-law, but mine definitely was a queen. Her life changed drastically over the years, but she always held strong to her faith and lived it every day. I look forward to seeing her again in heaven.