When I was a girl, I often heard comedians on television. Television was more wholesome then, but we still heard things we shouldn’t and there were certainly better ways to use our time. A common joke theme was mothers-in-law. Those jokes weren’t funny. A few months ago I heard a sweet homeschooling mother make a disparaging remark about a mother-in-law, and I felt sad.
President Harry Truman had a difficult mother-in-law who never thought he was good enough for her Bess. Harry and Bess Truman lived with Bess’ widowed mother before he was elected to the presidency because Bess didn’t feel that she could leave her. Her mother lived with them while they were in the White House, too. Though she was difficult, Harry Truman loved Bess’ mother. He never spoke or wrote disparagingly of her. When she died, he was sad.
I had a mother-in-law only for a short time. Ray’s mother died six months after we got married. Ray had just had his 23rd birthday, and I was 21. I miss Joan’s smile and her laugh. I miss the fun she and Wes and Ray and I enjoyed together. Ray’s dad was only 60 when Joan died. After that tragic loss, Wes and Ray and I were able to continue sharing many wonderful times together. How I loved my precious father-in-law.
Sometimes relationships with in-laws come easy, but many times it takes hard work. It always takes selfless love, self-sacrifice, and persistence. An older lady at our church who had only one son and no daughters told me that her daughter-in-law was better than a daughter. I’ve met her daughter-in-law and was not surprised that she felt that way. The goal in our relationships with every in-law should be to be like daughters, sisters, or mothers. Why should we settle for less than that?
One time an older lady at church told me that she talks on the phone to her deceased sister’s husband from time to time. I loved hearing that. For her he’s a connection to her sister; for him she’s a connection to his wife. We have so many ways to bless other people. Sometimes we just need to open our own hearts and let our love flow into the hearts of others.
I am sad that my children never got to know Ray’s mother. They missed out on so much.
I’m thankful that I got to be with my grandparents so much while I was growing up. I saw my daddy’s daddy almost every day at his grocery store where Daddy worked.
When I was growing up, Sundays were grandparent days. We went to church with Daddy’s parents in the morning. We drove 20 miles away to see Mother’s parents almost every Sunday afternoon. We stopped by to see Daddy’s parents on our way back home before Sunday evening services. Sometimes we stopped by to see my parents’ grandparents, too. I’m thankful my parents supported each other’s needs to be with their families. I know that it took commitment on both of their parts for me to get to have so much time with my grandparents.
The first time that Ray and I saw my mother after her stroke in 2014, Ray put his hands on my shoulders and said, “I love you. I love your mother. I will do anything I can to help.”
There was no question about whether I could do whatever I needed to do for my mother. I’m thankful that Ray loved his mother-in-law. He never wavered from what he told me that day in 2014.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;
give preference to one another in honor . . .