The Perfect Mother-in-Law
When A and I got married in 1961 I acquired Grandy as my mother-in-law. But she lived in Australia and I lived, firstly in England, and then in Canada. In fact, when she and I first met, I had been married for two years and my son had been born. So I was very much a daughter-in-law but also very much an unknown quantity. Of course, she welcomed me, most lovingly, to her family and we tentatively established a rapport.
After a few weeks I returned to Canada and once again it was a long-distance relationship. So despite the fact that she and I missed out on a close relationship, A and I never argued about our mothers-in-law. "We went to your mother for last Christmas, so we should go to mine for this one!"
All the mother-in-law jokes had no significance for me. My mother-in-law didn't tell me what to do, what to wear, what to say. Instead she wrote cheery, newsy letters and sent cards at the appropriate times and was generally for me a person about whom I learned in the stories told to me by A.
So I learned to know, not first hand, but through these stories, the amazing woman who had been mother to four children during the Great Depression and had given welcome to many strangers and less fortunate people who somehow arrived on her doorstep during those terrible times. She was a loving wife to her husband, cared for him in sickness and in health and, after his death, showed us all what a really strong, resilient woman she was.
In the early years of our marriage we did not come often to Australia. All our spare money went into getting a house and taking care of our family. But as the years went by we were able to travel and came more often to Sydney. So I developed a more personal relationship with Grandy and she even became more adventurous and travelled twice to Canada, once in the dead of winter, to spend Christmas with us. It was very cold and snowy that year and I think she wondered what kind of winter wasteland she had come to visit. We also came to Australia to join the family in the celebration of the 90th birthday, the 95th and now, at last, the incredible milestone of the 100th.
I think that now, after 39 years, we do have a personal relationship, although be it, an intermittent one. Those mother-in-law jokes still have no meaning for me, and I am sure that, if we had lived down the street from Grandy for all those years, I would be able to say the very same thing.
I once said to A, of my mother, with whom I had a difficult relationship, "I'm not sure that she really loved me." He replied to me, "I know my mother loves me!" I think in retrospect that is the nicest tribute you can say about your mother. Grandy truly loves all her family and every member knows it, even the in-laws.
This was supposed to be a very tongue-in-cheek look at a long distance relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and the fact that the distance makes it perfect. In fact, now I am not so sure that the losses do not outweigh the gains.
jmb, the "perfect" daughter-in-law
August 10, 2000
August 10, 2000
Daughter-in-Law by Chance
Friends by Choice
Friends by Choice
Grandy is lovingly remembered by four children, twelve grandchildren, eighteen great grandchildren and two great, great grandchildren.