My mother in law had a great influence on me, because she gave birth to the man I would marry. She was a stately woman. When she was only 51, her husband passed away in the night laying beside her in bed. He was only 56. He was a funeral director, following his own father’s trade. Their family lived above the funeral home, which was a large edifice, with adequate living quarters above the actual mortuary.
As his wife, my mother in law was the hairdresser to those who had died. She learned quickly to care for the dead as well as the living. It had to be most difficult to raise a family in such a situation, but both of their children turned out quite normal under the circumstances. Neither of them pursued a career in this area.
My husband recalls all kinds of stories during that time. Whenever there was a funeral, they were told to be respectful of the guests and not interfere in any way. In other words, they had to remain children that were neither heard nor seen.
She was the kind of person who was able to adapt to her environment, no matter where life took her. After her husband’s death she moved into a duplex with her mother in law, because of her belief that she was now responsible for caring for the aging matriarch of the family. Her own daughter was still a young woman and would go on to be a nurse. Her son (my husband) was just about to become a father himself.
She would have to adapt to living independently, muddle through tasks which she’d never been required to do and take on a job. The funeral home was sold. Reality set in. She always knew that God had a purpose for her life and despite some ongoing mental health issues, she persisted.
When we moved to Minneapolis, we got an apartment for her and she lived there for a couple years before moving in with us and eventually into a nursing home. She spent several years there and participated in as many activities as she could. Her servant attitude extended to helping others while she was there.
When she passed away at the age of 87. I sat with her at her bedside as she breathed her last breath. I tried reciting the 23rd Psalm, and knew I missed something, but she didn’t pop up to remind me. She was a lady until the end. The 23rd Psalm was her favorite. It was used at her husband’s funeral and at her own. It was the theme for our wedding. Every page of her Bible was well used and marked up. It still sits in our home as a reminder of how to ransack the scriptures.
My mother in law was a true servant of God. Her life reflected Jesus everywhere she went. I know that her faith was so strong to endure the pain of losing her husband at such a young age. Her life thereafter was difficult too, because she struggled with paranoid schizophrenia and had to be medicate for that. Her faith was strong to the end.
She was a wonderful example for her own children and for her grandchildren as well. I’m confident we will meet again someday in heaven. Until then we will never forget you.
Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.