Tag Archives: family

The Dreaded Mother-in-Law

flower-1163652__180My mother-in-law fell down a wishing well. I was amazed; I never knew they worked. ~Les Dawson

I have two sons. I love them enough to take a bullet for them. I would give them my kidneys, my bone marrow, and my liver. They wouldn’t want my eyes.

Some day I know I will have to give them over to those girls I have been praying for all of these years. In some ways, I want to say, “They’re all yours, girls! Good luck!” and other times I imagine yanking their pretty little ponytails and yelling, “Get lost! These are MY boys!”

The love of a mother for her son is special and strong. So when I tell you how much I love my mother-in-law, you have to first understand that I took away her firstborn son. I think she would have given even her eyes for her boys.

But she has never chosen her son over me. She has never tried to drive a wedge between us so that she could have her way. And she has never, in any form or fashion, been ugly to me.

I love having her come to visit. Not only does she do my ironing, help with the yard work, and take the kids shopping, she takes time to talk to me. She wants to know how I am, with all sincerity and love.

My mother-in-law and I talk on the phone and text several times a week. When she wants to tell someone how her mother is doing, she calls me. When I want to tell someone about my bellydance lesson, I call her. When she sees a movie that she thinks I would like, she calls. When my pile of laundry reaches Mt. Everest proportions, I ring her up.

Because her husband and her sons are so much alike, she gives me advice. It only makes sense; I mean, she’s been dealing with it twice as long as I have. (I’ll never tell you, Matt and Larry!)

She encourages my writing, and she is my biggest PR agent. No one has sold more copies of my book than she.

My mother-in-law has become one of my best friends. I know this will get some West Virginia comments, but I have to say, she isn’t just my husband’s mom, she’s my mom, too.

I love you, Connie. You’ve been the perfect example of a mother-in-law. I hope to be as good as you are some day.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:28-30 NIV

Papaws and Paps

grandfatherOn occasion, I like to reread my grandfather’s letters. While leafing through them, I’m saddened by what is being lost in modern communication. Soul-baring sentimentality isn’t typically poured into text messages, tweets and emails. All too often, personal connections are brushed aside for the sake of convenience in a fast-paced world. Kristina McMorris

Papaw Fitzwater always wore gray work clothes with a pocket protector in his shirt front. Papaw Sharp wore overalls and a flannel shirt, sometimes a white thermal shirt. They were practical men, worked hard and expected the same from everyone else. They were tall, thin, smiling men.

Papaw Fitzwater will forever be sitting in the passenger seat of a Buick while I drive. “Don’t ever sneeze while you are driving,” he warned. “You can’t sneeze with your eyes open.” When we got back home, he told my parents what an excellent driver I was. I was sixteen.

Papaw Sharp most often walks across the road from our house to his with his hands clasped behind his back, eyes cast down watching the rocky lane. I can still see him other ways, tilling and hoeing the garden, slobbering kisses all over Grandma and asking how his bride is doing today, even driving me home from school when I was sick.

But the way I see him most is that walk. The one that follows me through time. My father, his brothers, even I walk that way across the hill, down a trail. Thinking, contemplating, resting while we walk.

Grandfathers seem so distant compared to grandmothers that they often get the short end of the stick. But there are times when grandfathers have made me take notice of the soft hearts inside the hard men.

Like the time Matt’s grandfather told me the story of his nickname “Abe”. I thought he was joking that it came about because of his large nose. When I laughed, I saw all the pain of his youth mirrored in his eyes. Or the time I made light of Matt in front of his other grandfather. I don’t remember what I said, but I remember the fierce devotion that burned me with its flame.

Papaw Sharp gave me two books the year before he died. One was a cook book the other a canning book. “I got these for you. I thought they might be helpful.” That’s the grandfather mantra: Look out for the grandkids. Protect them, prepare them, and provide for them.

They did it perfectly. I love my Papaws and Paps.

 “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Genesis 48:9 NIV


cousinCousins are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.   Ed Cunningham

I have somewhere around 60 first cousins. I have lost track of the possible second cousins, third cousins, and cousins removed. These cousins live all over the country, from East Coast to West Coast, from the Rocky Mountains to the River Valley; yes, these cousins were made for me.

Our family is close, and so there were lots of summer vacations spent travelling to each other’s homes. We rode each other’s bikes, swam and picnicked in state parks, ate together, slept on the floor together, and loved each other. It was what I imagine being one of the original Israelites must have been like with mothers and fathers around every corner and kids trying to just have a little fun.

One cousin in particular stands out, though. She came from my cousin-sparse side of the family. You see, out of those 60-some cousins, there were only three on my mother’s side of the family. My father’s family was very competent when it came to procreating, Mom’s not so much.

But there was a cousin on Mom’s side born just six weeks before I was. She only lived one state away, so visits were more frequent than just summer vacations. Basically, we were good friends, but we also loved to hate each other.

Christmas presents were always the same, pink for me and blue for her. It didn’t matter that we didn’t like the same things. I wore patent leather shoes; her mother held it over her head. “Traci wears shoes like this!” It only made her love me more.

She hated patent leather. I didn’t know you could choose your own shoes. She was a city girl. I was a country girl. She liked Barbies; I liked babies. We played together as much as we fought, but somehow, I always knew she was an important friend, an ally, a confidant, my cousin.

We grew older together, rebelled together, and came back to our senses together.

This cousin and I have made a pact to take care of our family together. As the aunts and uncles age, it will fall to us to make sure everyone is safe and sound, watched over and loved. There will be no more fighting, no more jealousy, no more irritation. Because the truth is she has always been and always will be my friend, ally, confidant, and cousin.

I love you Stephanie.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 NIV