I realize this is supposed to be Wordless Wednesday, but I need to share a bit.
This photo was taken in 1968. My husband is on the far right; those are his three brothers pictured with him.
The summer of 1968, my mother-in-law (Betty) packed up a station wagon, hooked up a travel trailer, and set off with her four boys to travel from New Hampshire to visit her sister's home on Whidbey Island, Washington. A 3000 mile journey. It took them nine days to cross this country to Washington State. I think this was incredibly gutsy.
My mother-in-law was fearless. She was only 5'2" tall but she stood up to any one or any thing when she thought it necessary. A mother hen....a mother tiger....She loved her family more than anything in this world - and her family knew it and loved her for it.
Betty learned about love, and loss, at an early age, and unfortunately this pattern continued throughout her life. Betty's mother died when Betty was only eight years old. She was raised by her dad and her beloved Grandmother, but Grandmother died when Betty was 12.
Her older brother and sister were already teenagers, about to leave home and embark on their own adventures - sister went to nursing school and was a nurse in Europe during WWII; brother went into the Navy and became a deep sea diver with the dangerous job of looking for undersea mines. Her kid sister Sandra wasn't even a gleam in her dad's eye yet, as he hadn't yet met his second wife.
Her dad died when still a young man; Betty was 25. She was married to my father-in-law by then. She carried seven babies to full term; three babies died when only a few months old. As a mother myself, I can't imagine such a loss.
Two sons married very young, and brought their brides home to the folks' house to live. Betty taught those young daughter-in-laws how to mother, and she loved those grandchildren SO MUCH. She was always quick to lend a hand or a dollar if her kids or grandkids needed it. Both sons marriages didn't last, but her love for those grandkids was stronger than ever.
When her oldest son finally married, she was thrilled. She would have sworn he was going to be a life-long bachelor, and he nearly was, marrying at the age of 41. She welcomed his new wife (me!) into the family and I think, was glad to have another woman in the mix.
Ten years ago she lost her husband to a lengthy and painful illness. Shortly after that she was diagnosed with emphasema and would soon be on oxygen fulltime, but that didn't slow her down. She was as active in her church and little theater group as ever.
About ten years ago she lost her older sister to breast cancer. Five years ago her second-oldest son Paul died suddenly and unexpectedly. Two years ago she lost a grand-daughter at a very young age. She shouldered the loss of her grand-daughter as well as her son Peter's pain. She knew full well the pain of losing a child. She worried she would lose Peter too, as he struggled through his own feelings of loss. At times it seemed unbearable. At times it still seems that way.
Last June she lost her only brother, who, right up until the end, continued to call her every Sunday evening. His hearing was bad and she wore herself out shouting in reply, but she looked forward to his calls, and missed them when they stopped.
These losses in her life were difficult to bear, but they only made her appreciate her family all the more. Betty showered her children and grandchildren with love. There wasn't anything she wouldn't do for them, and they all knew it and loved her the more for it.
My mother-in-law died over the weekend, at the age of 80. Today we will attend her wake, and tomorrow her funeral. It seems only fitting that I take this moment to remember her, and her courage, and her unconditional love.
May the LORD bless you and keep you;
may the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
may the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.