When I first met my mother-in-law Martha, she was only a few years older than I am now. She was taking care of her mother in Paul’s childhood home on the highway.
Time has been slipping by fast since then. The seconds turned to minutes to hours then years past and a few decades slipped away as well.
This will be the 20th year since Martha’s mom left us. I was glad I could meet her and see Martha’s kind and compassionate care for her.
Paul’s childhood house is gone too. A gas station stands where the house on the highway used to sit.
And now he lost his mother too.
I have to be honest that the last few weeks have been totally heartbreaking. Martha became someone I didn’t recognize anymore. I want to forget the last couple of weeks and only remember the good times. I want to remember her laughter and not our tears.
Martha always had a way of taking the negatives and turning them into positives. I remember taking her in for her biopsy right before her diagnosis of breast cancer many years back. She wasn’t even worried. She had a good attitude saying things like ‘it wasn’t so bad’ and ‘I can handle doing this again’. She fought the first battle courageously and won. Little did we know at the time that she would be facing this fight again. But she battled it courageously with optimism and hope.
Most people would describe Martha as a lot of fun. We spent a lot of our time together laughing. I will miss her laughter. Although she was one of the nicest ladies you would ever meet, it was in your best interest not to get her mad. She was afflicted with the family temper, which believe me, I have learned quite a bit about. If something was bothering her, you would be sure to hear about it. But once she spoke her mind, it was forgotten. She was never one to hold a grudge. She was never one to judge either. She accepted people with open arms and made them feel welcome.
Unlike me, Martha never spent her time worrying. She was carefree. We needed her to bring the fun and excitement to the room. She didn’t worry about time, structure, or routine. She got there when she got there. This is the one time that she showed up to heaven’s gates too early.
She was happy with what she had. She didn’t need the newest fashions or glitzy bling.
I remember the days when Martha drove around a puke green 1970’s model station wagon. We were quite the sight driving around town. People stared. She would just laugh and say something like, “It is not much, but it gets me where I need to go.” She really didn’t care what people thought of her. I really liked that about her because that mind set is so freeing. She was herself.
Some might have said, at the time, that her biggest mistake was having a child at a young age without a husband. But I would have to say that her biggest mistake has been my greatest blessing in life. It is the reason I am here now with a wonderful husband and these beautiful grandchildren of hers. I will always appreciate the sacrifice that she made to raise Paul on her own. She held down a job. She put her life on hold for him. She always told him that he could do whatever he put his mind to. She was a great mother and thankfully Paul had the opportunity to tell her that.
A few weeks ago, she shared that the biggest regret in her life was that she didn’t meet Darryl sooner. Darryl was the love of her life. They shared many wonderful years together in their house in the woods.
She loved the time she spent with her family and we will miss her.