Happy Birthday to My Dear Sweet Mother-In-Law

I adore my mother-in-law.  Why do I adore her?  She can be stubborn and opinionated (I consider this an asset).  She is strong and a hard worker.  In fact, she still works at Six Flags for 10 months each year.  She still maintains her home and cuts several acres of land using a push lawn mower and a tractor.  She continues to drive all over Missouri and Iowa to visit her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.

She had two cataract surgeries this year.  DSH went with her to visit the doctors and stayed with her overnight for the surgeries.  She resisted this attention vehemently at first, but in the end I think she really appreciated the help and attention.  It was nice for DSH and his mom to get to spend this extra time together, too.  It made me happy inside for them.

She is so healthy that she actually hadn’t been to the doctor in several years and had to find a new one to get a physical clearing her for the surgery.  She reads a lot about homeopathic health care and uses a lot of folk remedies and they have seemed to work really well for her so far.

She’s also not afraid to learn new things.  She has a cell phone and uses the computer and has an email account.  The biggest struggle has been that she lives in an area with only dial-up service.  She recently switched to a laptop with an aircard and is learning another new way to use a computer.  Those little icons seem to throw her for a loop sometimes, but she keeps plugging away.

If it weren’t for my mother-in-law, our kids would not know the love of a grandparent.  Her husband, my father-in-law, died over 30 years ago leaving her a young widow with young children left to raise.  Our children never had the opportunity to know him.

My own parents have pretty much been absent not only in my life, but also in our children’s lives.  My father’s first love was the bottle, and we just did not allow our children to spend much time with him especially the last dozen years or so of his life.  He did not know how to act appropriately around them (or us).

My own mother had to be introduced to her own grandchildren after she decided to cut herself off from us for a number of years.  We have had a reconciliation of sorts, but she lives in California now and has never been interested in connecting with our kids.  She’s never acknowledged them at birthdays, holidays, or on special occasions.  She doesn’t visit or call or write.  While I send her pictures and letters about them, I don’t think she’d recognize them if she saw them on the street.

So, the fact that my mother-in-law has been more of a traditional grandmother is a blessing to me and to our kids.  I also appreciate, as the mother of five daughters, the model of a strong and independent woman that she has been for our girls.

The biggest struggle we have with my mother-in-law (other than her fierce independence) is how best to acknowledge her at Christmas and on her birthday.  You see, she doesn’t really need more stuff.

So, for the last few years at Christmas, we have pitched in to pay for her OnStar subscription which also buys us a little relief should she ever encounter trouble while driving all over the two-state region.

She loves to read the newspaper every day so we pay for her subscription every year for Christmas.

For her birthday this year, I framed a few pictures that I thought she might like.

I also made her a few casseroles

and some Angel Food cupcakes.

Then we took her out to dinner.  She doesn’t require anything big or fancy.  In fact, the less fuss made over her the better.

She said that she had a great birthday.  Her kitchen table was covered in birthday cards and plants.  She received a lot of calls from family and friends.  She deserves all of this attention and more for being a great mom, grandmother, and mother-in-law!

Happy 84th Birthday to my dear sweet mother-in-law!

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