Soon after Husband and I married, my mother-in-law sent me a letter. Sort of a “welcome to the family” kind of letter.
In it, she admitted how she never had a particularly good relationship with her own mother-in-law. She always felt a little uncomfortable around her and never knew what to call her.
But it would not be that way between us, she wrote. And it didn’t matter to her in the least what I called her. “You can call me Roberta or Bobbi or Mom or ‘Hey You!’ if you want.”
Naturally, the letter I wrote back was addressed to “Hey You.”
And that’s how it stayed. Any letters we wrote, birthday cards we sent, gifts we gave each other. She was Hey You and I was What’s-Her-Name.
Over this last weekend, my mother-in-law passed away. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, she’d been declining in health over the last year. The last time I saw her was in the summer and she didn’t know who I was.
I wasn’t even What’s Her Name. More like a “Who’s She?”
It didn’t bother me. Partly because I’d gone through it with my own Mom, but mostly because our relationship was above that. Even if she didn’t remember me at that moment, I knew her and remembered how she had accepted me into her family. How comfortable she made me feel.
That was the kind of person she was. She never made demands on people, insisted on her own way, was arrogant or rude. She endured all things.
And from what I know of her, she’d really hate my writing about her like this. Like, really hate it a lot. It’s embarrassing and unnecessary, she’d say.
And chances are good that if there’s WiFi in heaven, she really is reading this because she followed this blog.
So right about now she’ll be saying, “Oh Lord, why’d she have to write something like that?!” And then almost immediately she’ll smile, give that throaty chuckle of hers and say, “Oh, I don’t know…” Because she wouldn’t want me to feel bad.
Listen, I’m sorry to embarrass you so, but I wanted to write you one last letter. Okay?
Dear Hey You,
Thanks for everything. Of all the mother-in-laws in the world, you were the best.