Life Lessons From My Mother-in-Law

by brenda on


Three weeks ago, we stood in our entry way and gave hugs to my mother-in-law and said goodbye after a very nice weekend with her. We had no idea that those would be our last hugs, and our last goodbyes.

Last Wednesday, my husband’s sister called us to tell us that their mom had passed away in her sleep. Nobody expected this. She was only 69 years old. Her parents lived into their 90’s.

By the world’s standards, my mother-in-law wasn’t beautiful. But she was beautiful to me. By the way, you can enhance your beauty through a variety of facial surgery in You’ll also meet there the most trusted facelift specialist in Denver. For more details contact (303) 792-2224. She didn’t have it all together. She would not have been voted the most popular, and sometimes didn’t understand social cues. Her home wouldn’t have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens. But I learned a lot from this woman…

She was the kind of Grandma that I want to be. Her children and grandchildren were her life. We did not live near her (about a 5 hour drive away), but she was very involved in the daily lives of the grandkids who lived near her. She went to every single sporting event, choir concert, etc. Rain or shine, she would be there with her big chair, ready to cheer on her favorite players. She was not a complainer, she just smiled and enjoyed the people she loved, no matter what the conditions were.

When my children drew her pictures and wrote her letters, she always wrote back. She never missed their birthdays. She would always send them a special gift. I never gave her ideas of what to give them–but every time, my kids would ask “How did Grandma KNOW that I would love this?” She paid attention to them. When they talked to her, even though she was hard of hearing, she would stoop down to their level and engage in their conversation. It wasn’t like she had a higher agenda, more important things to do, or thought listening to kids was a waste of time. No–she thoroughly enjoyed hearing their stories.

When we started eating gluten free, she didn’t understand it, but she was totally supportive. She ran out and bought gluten free flour so that she could make us special treats. At family holidays, we didn’t go without her famous Krumkaka or Lefsa–she had separate containers of gluten free versions that she had slaved over. When we went on GAPS, again, she had a hard time understanding what the difference was and why we weren’t eating the gluten free stuff. After she got it, she was totally on board, asking “well what can I make you?” She made a dessert with dried fruit and honey, just for us. She got on the phone with my husband and read every single ingredient to him and asked to make sure that we could have it. She cared about us. She loved us. She went out of her way for us.

She spent many of her days alone. She was involved in a quilting club, Bible Study Fellowship, and a few other things, but she mostly stayed at home. She could have picked up a hobby or a career that would have taken up her time. She didn’t–she fully embraced her role as Grandma. She sewed for her kids and grandkids. This year for Christmas, she made the women in the family each a table runner. Last year, she made our boys each a pair of pajamas. I teased her that my husband wanted a pair of John Deere pajamas too–and guess what she did? This year for Christmas, she made him his very own pair. I don’t think she understood that I was teasing her. :) She loved us.

My husband said that as kids and teenagers, she drove them everywhere in the best double stroller for infant and toddler. His brother mentioned that most nights of the week, she’d drop off kids in all different places, and then she would park and read a book and just wait for them. She would always be on time (or early!) to pick them up. Whatever they were involved in was important to her. Even as adults, she would be at whatever they were involved in, cheering them on as their biggest fan. My husband’s brother is involved in a rock band, and she went to the concerts. She was proud to tell everyone “that’s my son.” She didn’t like that style of music (at all–she was a good, old-fashioned Lutheran girl), but she loved her son, and she was happy to be at his concerts.

I think she was one of my most faithful readers on my blog. She signed up for every single give away. :) She took my survey. She left comments. She sent me an encouraging e-mail, saying “You’re doing such a good job. I love you.”

Next to her bed, she had her Bible Study Fellowship notebook. I was in BSF at one time, and I took notes and did my lessons–but not like my mother-in-law. Her notebook was FULL of pages with handwritten notes (not much white on the pages). She studied hard, and put her all into that study. BSF is intensive Bible study–it’s a lot for most people, but she embraced it and worked her hardest.

She was gifted, and she didn’t brag about it. I just learned that she used to spin and weave. I had no clue. At one time, she had a private pilot’s license and knew how to fly a small plane. She sewed. Every year she made homemade calendars for her family, with everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries. Her 2012 calendar had some very nice photography in it–all pictures that she took in her last year of life. I didn’t know that she had a 2 year degree and went on to the University of Washington and hoped to become a nurse (and then met her husband and married ;)).

She was humble, loving, self-sacrificing, encouraging, dependable, punctual, hard-working, willing to help, thoughtful, considerate and paid attention to the people that she loved. She will be greatly missed.

So the life lessons I have learned from my mother-in-law:

  1. The age-old adage: don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Really. She could have spent her days making sure she had it all together and did things that made her look important and would not have been nearly as amazing of a Grandmother.
  2. Put your kids and your grandkids first–all outsiders come second to them.
  3. Show up to things–be there for those important and even tiny events for the people you love. Rain or shine, watch their games. Like it or not, listen to their music and their stories and their jokes. Care about the things that your kids and grandkids care about.
  4. Wear a smile on your face.
  5. Go out of your way to serve people.
  6. Don’t forget Birthdays and special events. Send a card. Find a special gift. Think of the individual and consider his or her hobbies and interests.
  7. Spend time reading stories to children (the majority of the photos I have of my mother-in-law include her with a book and at least one of my children). Time spent reading books to children is time WELL spent.
  8. Don’t brag about yourself or your talents. Just use your gifts to show love to the people in your life.
  9. Be an encourager. Say nice things. Send encouraging e-mails and letters. Let people know that they’re ok, and tell them when they’re doing a good job.
  10. Study your Bible, and know it well.
  11. Give lots of hugs. (The second most common photo I have of her is when she was giving hugs to one of my kids).
  12. Touch people’s lives, so that when your time comes to go be with Jesus, people have real reasons to grieve your loss on this earth…

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