Channeling Maurine

Maurine and Milton Freeman with all their grandchildren
in 1983; seven more would follow
Working in the kitchen, chatting with DesireĆ©.  She's making chocolate chip cookies for Alora's baptism on Saturday.  I'm cutting up a cantaloupe for dinner.  I halve it, clean it, slice it into wedges, then make vertical slices through the flesh, just to the rind but not through it.  Then, I slice off the rind and bite-size pieces of fruit fall into the bowl.  I'm well-practiced.  It's fast work.  Just like my "mom" showed me.

My husband's mother has been gone for more than nine years now.  She hasn't lived with us in twelve, but her presence in this house can be almost palpable.  It happens most when I'm with my daughters-in-law, when we're working together, when we're laughing and chatting, or when I am sharing some skill she taught me.  I want to be for them what Maurine was to me.

They say a child's earliest years are critical to their development, that a great deal of what they learn and experience at that time is indelibly etched on their characters.  Perhaps it was the same way with me in the early years of my marriage.  Perhaps she has imprinted a bit of herself on me.  I hope so.

Maurine was my friend, my confidant, my mentor, my ally and sometimes my co-conspirator.  I always knew she loved me, even when I doubted everyone else, especially myself.  When we needed her—when I needed her—she was there.  Always.  I needed her a lot.

Maurine and grandson Adam, October 1981
She was my coach when my oldest son was born, when my husband was at the opposite end of the country.  She cared for me during the worst of my illnesses and at the births of my other sons.  When we were suddenly out of work, they took us in.  Our trials in life were their own.  Whatever resources they had were devoted to their children.  They adored our children who worshiped them in return.  She taught me more than I ever could list here, but more important than all else, she taught me what manner of person I want to be.

I will never truly be able to match what Maurine was to me.  My DILs are much more mature, far less needy.  They are stronger, better educated, more self-reliant.  They don't have the same trials.  They have resources other than me.  But, I can be a positive influence.  I can be understanding and accepting.  I can be supportive and uplifting.

I can love unconditionally, just like my MIL taught me.

—A Chaotic Mind

1 comment:

Lucy Stern said...

She sounds like a wonderful woman...