Friday, March 18, 2011


Yesterday was my mother-in-law's birthday. She would have been 92. She loved being born on St. Patrick's Day! I don't think she was Irish, but the huge March 17th celebration was embraced with total abandon.  I've never known anyone who received as many birthday cards - well over 100!

The thing about her was that she just had this indomitable spirit. She never wanted to admit she couldn't do something. She rode her bike 7-10 miles a day until she was 84. The only reason she stopped was because she fell and her doctor advised her not to ride anymore. She grew up in a small Indiana town and listening to stories of her youth reminded me of the novel, "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe."

She lived in Florida for her retirement years, nearly 30. She absolutely loved the sunshine! When we visited her, she was like a little kid, giggling and excited to have us. We met her friends and toured all the local spots with her. So many warm memories...

She had many, many friends from all over the country and for years they corresponded by letter. She loved getting all those letters and then she'd worry about responding to everyone. It was hard to watch as her ability to write began to wane.

When she decided to move from Florida to be near us, we didn't realize her forgetfulness was early stages of Alzheimer's. The dread disease crept into her brain and stole her memories, first just little things like forgetting the laundry. But later in a most cruel way, she forgot almost everything. 

Visiting her was so difficult at the end, I think in part, because it brings you face to face with your own aging, your own failing memory, your own fears. Often I would just sit with her, just feel her love and send her love. It was so important to us to be with her even though she may not have remembered who we were. I will always believe that she knew the love we shared and was comforted by it. We miss her...
Mysteries, Yes
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.
~ Mary Oliver ~

1 comment:

  1. It s great that you coul be there, celebrating to her!