Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Long Winter

Painted by my mother-in-law's mother
I am lounging on the bed writing this.  I am the last of my family (of 7) to succumb to 4 - 7 days of fever, cough and sinus pain.  I don't know what to call it, I don't think it's technically the flu but it wipes you out.  Thankfully, everyone else is better now except for me and my youngest, who is still hacking today.  It's amazing how tired just lying around makes you feel......

The month of October my mother had emergency heart surgery and I went east to stay with her for her first week out of the hospital.  In December my family had a couple of weeks when the stomach bug went round.  This month of February has passed in a fog of illness as well.  Neither were too serious, but they do put a damper on things.  And sadly, the month of January was marked by the unexpected death of my mother-in-law.

It has been quite a shock to us all and really we haven't had a chance to process it.  Though Mary (her name) was the oldest of the grandparents at 84, in many ways she was the most alive and vibrant of them all.  We had just seen her at Christmas, where she was sweeping up our muddy footprints before we had much managed to enter the house (she was a true Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse;)

Only a couple of weeks after we had returned to Texas, in mid-January (on my oldest son's 21st birthday) we got a call that she had died in the night of a massive heart attack.  How we immediately had to get ready to leave on a two-day drive is for another post, but we got there.  It was bitterly cold and somewhat surreal, as I suppose a funeral for someone who dies suddenly always is.  After all, they were there themselves only a few days before.  

Unfortunately my father-in-law has been really frail these past two years, and it was very clear that he could not remain in their home alone.  Nor did he want to move to Texas (or Florida, where another child lives) so he that week had to move into an assisted living facility. (My husband has one sister who lives nearby, but she was already taking care of HER mother-in-law).

Even though it is a nice place, all these events understandably have been very stressful and disheartening to him.  So many changes in such a short time.  And again, no one (not even my father-in-law, who is the ultimate planner) was prepared because everyone thought that Mary would outlive him.  No one even considered the reverse.

Because of all the major decisions that had to be made, I think no one has had time to properly mourn my mother-in-law yet.  She was a feisty lady, very petite and very beautiful even in her eighties, VERY opinionated and outspoken:), sometimes very funny and mystifying, but she loved her family very much. I was the only daughter-in-law, and because of that I can say that I was her favorite one;)

I have known Mary for almost 30 years myself, and yet she was older than I am now when I met her.  I remember the first time I was ever in her house.  At that time it was one of the largest houses I had ever been in and beautifully decorated.  She loved her home, and she had the gift of order (which I admire but definitely do not share).  Her home was never sterile, there were always magazines and books to read and snacks to eat, but I could always count on it being its same orderly self, as it was even this past Christmas.

She also was a wonder with geraniums.  It is a little amazing to me that her geraniums live on when she herself is gone, but my sister-in-law has promised to give me some cuttings when I go back this summer to help sort out the house.  I know this is a common feeling, but how bewildering it is that the world just keeps on going when someone you love has been absolutely removed from it, leaving such a hole in your own family.

Mary is a Christian, and I do think of her now in heaven.  I imagine she has a cottage with a flower garden overflowing, and I can't wait to visit her when I arrive in that beautiful city.  I figure that if Jesus in His resurrected state spent time visiting with friends, eating with them, breakfasting on the beach, etc.  then we too will have these sorts of experiences in heaven.  He said Himself He is going to prepare a place for us, and why would there be streets unless we will be walking up and down them visiting one another?

"In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." -- John 14:2-3 KJV


  1. Prayers for you and your family Angela. Your MIL sounds like she was a wonderful person! I have one of my grandmother's porch plants by my front door and it reminds me of her every time I walk into the house. I hope the same for the geranium cuttings you will receive, that they will grow on in her memory and bring you beautiful memories every time you look at them. So sorry for your loss, and I hope the sicknesses leave your house for the rest of the year after this! You've been having it every couple of months, huh? Ick! Get well soon!

  2. Oh, Angela...I am so sorry to hear of your mother-in-law's sudden death. I am sure that it is hard to process. I don't think we are ever "ready" to face the passing of a loved one, no matter their age. I am sure that she has left an empty space in your family. You write so beautifully of her, such a lovely tribute. I pray that the memories will be sweet and comforting. I am also going to pray for your father-in-law whose loss must be overwhelming. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to lose one's lifelong partner unexpectedly, and then to have to adjust to a new place to live and a new routine. Life is hard.

    My sorrow, though, is for those who are left to deal with the loss because, for the believer, death is only the beginning...

    I hope that all of you are soon on the road to recovery! What a rough winter this has been for you!


  3. Angela, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss and my love and sympathy go out to you and your family. Your memories of Mary and your last paragraph really moved me. The geranium cuttings sound a lovely tribute. My friend's parents gave me a plant as a housewarming gift several years ago and I still have it, though they are both sadly no longer with us. Take care and I hope the spring brings some relief from the awful winter you've had. x

  4. So sorry to hear of the dreadful winter you've had and particularly the loss of your mother-in-law who sounds like my alter ego! Although there is some blessing in the suddenness of leaving life for the one leaving - no twilight months or years of dwindling health etc - the shock to those left behind is immense and is very difficult to process. An element of disbelief hovers for a long time and one can feel almost as if one is living in a dream from which one can wake up. The realisation that one won't takes a lot of time. I send you a hug and prayers for you and all the family who will miss Mary so much. So hard for your father-in-law especially but also your husband and everyone who loved her. Cherish the geraniums - I am sure she will be keeping a watchful eye on you as you grow them and although the memories will be poignant I am sure she will be so happy that you want to continue what she started. I love your picture of heaven - how lovely that is going to be! And it lends visiting people here on earth a new and rather special dimension. May compassionate angels be very close to you all and may you know their safe-keeping as the harshness of this winter ends and Spring comes more gently. E xx

  5. I'm so sorry for your loss, and I hope everyone at your house is well again soon.

  6. Angela, I have read many tributes during my time in Blogdom and this is a beautiful one. Mary sounds like an amazing person whose loss will be keenly felt. I feel so sorry for your father-in-law who must make these major adjustments in so short a time and while dealing with his great loss. Only the comfort of the Lord will help and I pray that you all will sense it, most especially him.

    Hope that you're all feeling much better soon. Grief itself is exhausting without the added stress of not feeling well.

  7. I am so sorry for your family's loss, Angela, you have written a beautiful tribute to your mother-in-law. May the Lord ease the pain of this loss , my prayers are for all of you especially your father-in-law.
    I am also sorry that you are ill, Dh and I had something similar in January, it has taken quite a while to get over it.
    Get well soon.

  8. Dear Angela, A beautiful post for your mother-in-law. I am sure she has read it and is smiling at the kind and beautiful words you have written for her. We are not to understand things since we are not as wise as He. Therefore, I am constantly confused, but never doubting. I know He has a perfect plan for each of us.
    I am sure the plant cuttings that you receive will flourish and bloom beautifully for you.
    I want to thank you for your visit and kind thoughts for me and my family. It is so nice knowing the beautiful blogging circle of friends . Blessings and xo, Catherine


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