Today’s prompt from 30 Days of Love is to think of someone courageous, someone who deserves recognition for his or her actions, even his or her life. Not simply because it’s her birthday, but because she has been like a 2nd mother to me, I’m nominating my mother-in-law.
When I met my husband-to-be, I was 18. Mom still looked a lot like this — not nearly as beautiful as the raven-hired, movie-star gorgeous girl who married Dad, but still lovely. A great laugher, full of infectious humour.
She didn’t have much to laugh about, until mid-life. Dirt poor, the youngest child of an oilfield worker family, Mom lost a dearly beloved brother to a tragic accident when she was small. Mom’s mother also died, when she was a young teen. Her father promptly remarried. Mom became the Cinderella of her own story. It would be many years after I knew Mom well before I heard anything negative about her step-mother, and even then it would be muted by Mom’s innate kindness and dislike of mean-spiritedness. Suffice to say the woman’s own daughters were favoured, always.
Mom had to work very hard to get her teaching degree — as a live-in maid for another horrible woman, and then in a store. She worked more than full-time, and went to school full-time. Stories from those days were rare. Even rarer were condemnations of her father (who didn’t want her to be a teacher, and initially wouldn’t help w/ her expenses), or the people who worked her very hard.
When Mom married Dad, they had my brother-in-law, and then Dad joined the Merchant Marine. This, as Mom noted — one of the few stories w/ judgement voiced — was ‘totally unnecessary! He had a deferment, and a wife and child!‘ So Mom moved in with her mother-in-law.
I owe a great deal to Mom’s mother-in-law, who was not a nice person. At least not to Mom, and probably not to many folks. Mom told me — many many years after my husband’s grandmother, Nanyer, died — that she learned how not to be a mother-in-law from Nanyer. From stories told late in her life, I’m guessing Mom never did care for Nanyer. Even though Mom & Dad took both Dad’s mother and father in to live with them, until they died.
So here we have a woman who had a very hard life, in many ways. Too full of people who were unkind to her, as well as just the hard times of the Depression, and then WWII. That alone would nominate many members of the Greatest Generation, as Tom Brokaw notes.