My Favorite Mother-in-Law

Bertha

This morning some private messages inspired me to share some memories of my favorite mother-in-law.

After living alone for some time as a widow, Bertha came to live with our family.  What a blessing that was.  The first time she attended church with us, I introduced her as my favorite mother-in-law.  Well, after church, not knowing what else to say, several widows started their conversation with, “We didn’t know Ken had been married before.”

To each, Bertha replied, “Ken wasn’t married before; maybe that’s why I’m still his favorite mother-in-law.”  So every conversation started with a smile.

In one of our conversations about how she handled her grief, she shared one of her many valuable “life lessons.”  She shared, “Al was a wonderful husband.  I will always miss him and my heart will always hurt.  But that’s on the inside.  The first time I went to church alone, I didn’t know where to sit.  I did notice that a group of widows seemed to be sitting together, laughing and talking.  I also noticed some widows who sat alone.  They seemed sad; they didn’t really talk to anyone and they weren’t smiling.

“I made the decision that I would be part of the group that was laughing and smiling, enjoying being together.  I knew that to be part of that group, I had to also be smiling and talking.  So on the outside, people see me smiling and they think that I am happy and they want to be around me.  Oh, yes, I still hurt on the inside, but if that is what I show to others, they won’t want to be around me.”

Bertha started “quilting clubs” and sent quilts all over the world.  She had friends wherever she went.  At church socials, Bertha would be seen talking to the people that no one else wanted to talk with.

A smile of unconditional love.

A smile of unconditional love.

Bertha was the first of her siblings to be born in the State of Oklahoma.  Her older siblings had been born in the Oklahoma Territory.  In 1933, she married a Kansas wheat farmer –in the middle of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl!  I am so thankful that I was given time with my favorite mother-in-law to see what was in her heart through troubled times and good.  I hope that everyone who reads this can find a relationship of unconditional love like that which existed between me and my favorite mother-in-law.

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