Hey You, Thanks

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.

wedding family

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.

Love always,
What’s-Her-Name

Author: CJ Hartwell

After spending most of her life in Phoenix, Arizona, CJ Hartwell moved to the middle of Minnesota. Is she nuts? Probably. For updates on her sanity, click on the link to follow by email.

35 thoughts on “Hey You, Thanks”

  1. I can only imagine the precious years you and Hey You had together but I can see you’re keeping them safe and sacred and that’s why family is more than just a name. Sorry for your loss CJ.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. What a lovely tribute!
    I knew a lady whose name was Shirley, but for some reason she seemed like she should be Marg. When I told her that, she said she would be happy to call me the name she thought I should be too. From then on, we called each other by these new names. We always grinned when we did that in front of others, because she was the wife of the Department Manager and my husband was about 6 levels below that rung of the ladder. No one wanted to be the one to tell the Manager’s wife that she had my name wrong…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a fantastic story! I’m sure it’s something she remembers with fondness too.
      Sorry it took me so long to respond to this, family activities kept me away. You know how it goes — on the bright side I missed our severe cold.

      Like

  3. Christi, your stories usually feel like home to me, but this one in particular choked me up. Maybe it’s smoke from the wood stove… Regardless, thank you for sharing. I’m sure HeyYou would love this. At least on the second reading.

    Liked by 1 person

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