Happy Birthday, Mother (in-law)!
I know what you’re thinking. Another post about a birthday. Well, you’re right – and you may as well get ready, because another one hits the calendar tomorrow. Then, off to other topics, at least for a while. But tonight, remembrances about my mother-in-law. Now I know what your’re thinking about mother-in-laws. Most people make fun of them, and they have been fodder for countless jokes throughout the years. But the truth is, I have a great mother-in-law. In fact, throughout the years, I’ve had a better relationship with her than I had with my own mother.
I’ve known Nancy since 1959. That’s right, the same year I wrote about yesterday. My parents and Janet’s parents attended the adult Open Hearth Class together at Trinity Methodist Church in Beverly Hills on the south side of Chicago. Nancy and my mother were pregnant at the same time – and my youngest brother Ken, and Janet’s younger sister Nancy, were born within a month of each other in the summer of 1960. Although my parents and Janet’s parents became fast friends, Janet and I didn’t know each other very well until years later.
Our families had some similar things that drew us together. Nancy’s parents and my mother’s parents lived two blocks from one another on Winchester Avenue. And both Nancy and my mother had many visits with their fathers. And there were some more obscure things – Janet’s family had Mildred to assist them, and our family had Hugh and Elouise. Now I know what your’re thinking. What does this have to do with anything? But as I look back on all the familiar things, it made it very easy for the families to blend. We all grew up in the same neighborhood, had similar lifestyles and the kids in both families were, for the most part, similar in age. Our fathers even started their own companies within a year of each other – except John was much better at it than my Dad was. So Janet went to a private high school while I went to the public school “on the other side of the tracks” – literally.
And then there were the holidays. For years, our parents got together on every New Year’s Eve to celebrate. In fact, I remember John and Nancy Boyd coming to our house to celebrate. Mom would cook and it was the only night of the year that my brothers and I were allowed to have soft drinks! So, those nights were pretty special. And when each spring came, I would head over to the Boyd’s to cut the grass – I got $1 per week, and I remember when my father-in-law raised me to $1.25! Mrs. Boyd would always offer me something to drink and inquire as to how our family was. She was always kind to me – which is far more than I can say for so many other people in my life at the time. I led something of a lonely childhood, so the recollections of her kindnesses are still very fresh in my mind.
I have now known my mother-in-law for more than 50 years – that’s half a century. In all that time, I have never witnessed her be anything less than compassionate and kind. That’s quite a record. There’s only one other person I know who has posted a similar record – and that’s Janet. Knowing her mother, that’s not a such a big stretch.
And one more thing – my own mother has been dead now for more than 13 years. That means that I have know Nancy for more years than I knew my own mother. It kind of blows my mind when I think of it that way. By the way, did you notice that I call her Nancy – and not mother or mom? Know why I do that? Because right in the beginning, as soon as Janet and I were married, John let me know that they only had three children – and those were the only people they wanted to address them as Mom and Dad. I really respected that – and I still do. The first several times, calling Nancy by her first name really stuck in my throat – but now it just kind of rolls off my tongue. Initially, it only seemed natural to me that somebody that acted “motherly” should be called Mom, but it wasn’t to be.
And now, after all these years, even thinking of her as a mother, it would never even cross my mind to actually call her ______. I can’t even write it – it seems like an invasion of their nuclear family privacy. I guess 38 years of training has me stuck in my ways.
So tonight, the verse I have chosen reminds me of Nancy – I think of her every time I read it. From Col. 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” These are all traits that Nancy possesses, and as Christ followers, they should all be things we strive for as well. That is my encouragement you for tonight – and my prayer is that you may have somebody in your life who has helped shape you the way Nancy has helped shape me. Happy Birthday, Nancy. Love, Scott…..