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May 6, 2009

CARNIVAL OF GENEALOGY: Mother, By Any Other Name

This post is part of the Carnival of Genealogy Mother's Day carnival.
My mother was an amazing woman. She was smart and funny and resourceful. I love her and miss her. She passed away 28 years ago. However this story is not about my mother but my mother in law.I have been with my husband for 34 years. When I first met his mother I don't think she really approved of me. She was not unkind, she was just unsure. We did not see her too often at first. We were busy with the day to day lives of young love and she was busy in her own life.
Of course there were the birthdays and Christmas. I had such a hard time understanding what my in laws were saying because of their accents. His was German but my mother in law was from Latvia. I smiled and nodded a lot at those get togethers.

As the years passed we were together with them more and more. My own mother was gone but my mother in law was becoming more and more a part of my life. She would do things like put all the condiments on the table in pretty little dishes, never in their plastic containers. There were always place mats and pretty napkins. Always there would be a bloom or greenery of some sort on the table and a candle burning. This was new to me. My mom was a great cook but we were definitely not place mat & napkin folk.

My mother in law looked like Zsa Zsa Gabor. With very little money she dressed like a million bucks. She wore scarves and capes. She was once engaged to a real Count in Latvia. As a young teenager she fled the war in her area by going to the train station with a young girlfriend. They did not have the proper credentials to be getting on the train to leave town. There were armed Russians all around and they just started walking toward the train. They stared straight ahead and ignored the commands to stop, climbing onto the train as it was heading out of the station. For whatever reason the men did not go after them. She later walked through the snow in a mountainous area of Germany to find the home of a distant relative carrying her only possessions with her. This was where her family was to meet up and reunite. She was one tough woman.

Christmas was so different in their home too. In the past my Christmas was pretty basic and very low budget. Theirs didn't cost much but it was very special. One gift opened at a time to the oohs and ahhs of the rest of the group. Not to mention they celebrated on Holy Night, Christmas Eve. We were December 25th. No turkey served here but different dishes from her childhood. Rouladen one time, duck another.

But it was definitely all her that was making the festivities so special. She takes an hour to pick out gift tags. Honestly she does. Imagine the thought she would put into the gift.
She survived one husband and with her two sons went on to marry a man with two sons of his own. She raised those boys with very little money but lots of "kussies" and hugs. Then she went on to hug and kiss and love our two sons every chance she got.

I have learned so much from her through the years but you know what she confesses she has learned a lot from me too.

With mother's day around the corner I want to tell you about one time in particular. At the end of a dinner at our home for Mother's day we were walking arm in arm down the driveway to their car when she said "I want to thank you for all the work you did for this lovely Mother's Day dinner". "Without you" she went on " this wouldn't have been much of a Mother's Day".
I gave her a big hug and replied "You know what. I can say the very same thing".
I love my Mother In Law.

14 comments:

Keetha said...

This is a WONDERFUL post. Your mother-in-law looks like an actress in that picture. I'd like to hear MORE of her escape stories!!!

lindalee said...

An absolutely beautiful and touching story. I wish I could say the same for my mother in law, however, I can say the same for my step mother. I lost my own Mom almost 10 years ago and I miss her daily. Thank you for your blog, Lori.

Sandi said...

That brought a tear to my eye. I lost my mother 15 years ago and still miss her every day. And I lost my mother-in-law 2 years ago. Even though I have my chldren and grandchildren, Mother's Day feels very different now. I miss being the "kid".

Irish Genealogical Research said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it. Your mother-in-law sounds like a lovely woman, and you're very blessed to have such an enriching presence as her in your life.

Lori E said...

Keetha: That does look like a press shot doesn't it. She was so angry with the photographer who had taken a poor photo previously. She didn't even take her coat off for this one. One year she asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I asked for a copy of this photo.

Lindalee: Some people are better at the whole MIL thing than others. I think a lot of women agree with you.

Sandi: I won't even see my kids this Mother's Day. We won't be in town until Monday. Makes me sad. First time ever.

Ali said...

What a wonderful story! Gems like that need to be written down and shared.

Ali

caren said...

What a beautiful story! I wish I had that relationship with my MIL! Love your blog.

Foley said...

Lori - I loved hearing the story of your MIL, such a beautiful photo of her! I just marvel at the history she can pass on to you and your family. To be able to hear what she went through just to survive is an inspiration!
Thank you so much for linking at my blog for the Tribute for Mothers!

Joyce said...

I have tears in my eyes. Wonderful story and wonderful MIL. Happy Mother's day.
Joyce

Jayne said...

It was wonderful to read your post. She sounds very special indeed.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

That was such a wonderful story! It seems that generation had to deal with so many more trials than we have and they were so strong because of it. You made a wonderful and special bond with her!

Susan

Dishesdone said...

What an amazing story! Excellent post, she sounds like an very special MIL!

Kathleen said...

I am so glad I found you through Foley's Mother's Day tribute.
That is an amazing story. God bless her, and it is wonderful you are so close with your mil!
What a beautiful picture of her!

Suzy said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mother in law. I love the photo of her as a young girl. So romantic! I have been blessed with two wonderful mother in laws so I do know what a treasure that can be. Thanks for sharing her story.

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