Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Other Mother

This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, my newspaper column was about my mom, who recently passed away. Somehow, writing helps me to process the fact that she’s gone.  I think of her daily and am sure I’ll continue to do so for quite some time. Though I can’t stop thinking about Mom, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also pay tribute to my other mother.
And, no she isn’t a stepmother; she’s my former mother-in-law.  Jeanne has been special to me since we met when I was dating her son in college and has remained so even though her son and I divorced many years ago.  Because we had no children, it would have been easy to drift away from the family, but I didn’t want to lose touch, and much to my delight, neither did my in-laws. I’ve always considered myself extremely fortunate to have had not only my mom but also my other mother in my life. 

When I think of the mother-in-law horror stories I’ve heard through the years, I thank my lucky stars that I not only acquired a wonderful mother-in-law, but one who may be the most cheerful person I’ve ever known.  I’ve simply never known Jeanne to have a bad day.
We’ve had so many good times through the years--shopping, baking Christmas cookies, playing games and just hanging out.  When Jeanne could no longer refer to me as her daughter-in-law, she began introducing me as her other daughter. I’d visit often and sometimes spend the night, especially when her real daughter came to town.
When I remarried, my former in-laws came to the wedding and laughingly told my new husband that they would be his out-laws since they couldn’t really be his in-laws. A few years ago, we had a Christmas party and many of our guests were amazed that I’d invited my former mother-in-law…and that she came.  She and my mom sat together on the couch and had to explain over and over how Jeanne fit in.
As I approach this first Mother’s Day without my mom, I’m once again struck by my good fortune in having a relationship with Jeanne all these years. She’s always been there to share the good times and the bad, to offer encouragement and to make me smile. Yes, my other mother is one special lady, and I’m thankful that she’s been a loving constant in my life.