(I write for a local monthly publication called City Life. I know some of you don't live near me, so I want to start sharing these columns with you here, too. You can click here to flip through the pages of the publication, or just read my article below. This was my column for May.)
For my column this month, I thought it would be fitting to write about one of the most remarkable women in my life, my mother-in-law Margaret. I've written about her on the blog before, but this expands a little more on what makes her so special in my life.
Happy Mother's Day to Margaret and all the other moms in my life!
A Mom For All Seasons
I was a Mother’s Day baby, born in 1981 at Schumpert Medical Center on the day before Mother’s Day.
Growing up, each year that my birthday rolled around, it was celebrated hand-in-hand with Mother’s Day. There was cake and ice cream and gifts exchanged, but I always liked that it wasn’t just for me. It was a weekend that we celebrated all the women in my family. Moms, aunts, cousins, sisters and grandmothers were all honored in unison over one Brookshire’s butter cream sheet cake. I never minded sharing my birthday cake with such a wonderful group of women.
In the years since, I’ve learned that life provides all types of mothers. There are the mothers we’re born to, the grandmothers, aunts and family members who mother us along the way, and there are the other special women we acquire as mother figures throughout our lives.
One of the best parts about marrying the guy I did is the loving family I inherited with him. They would do anything for me and Ty, and effortlessly toe the line between being involved and overbearing. Many people don’t mesh so easily with their in-laws, but this has never been a challenge for me as I became a part of Ty’s family.
At the center of this wonderful family is my mother-in-law, Margaret. She’s the mother-in-law that a new bride hopes for. She’s thoughtful, generous, loving … and has her own monogramming machine!
Margaret is so petite that you may never realize how strong she truly is. But this year, we learned that strength comes in many sizes. Even in petite, athletic women like Margaret.
Right around Thanksgiving, Margaret was diagnosed with anal cancer. It didn’t seem possible. Margaret is the picture of fitness. She’s a fixture in the local running community, nevermind the additional yoga, Pilates and spin classes she teaches almost every day of the week.
And while I know cancer does not discriminate between age and health, it is difficult news to digest when someone lives such a healthy lifestyle and is diagnosed with such a monumental illness.
Over the course of six weeks, Margaret underwent chemotherapy and radiation. In the midst of her battle, she would text me to ask how I was feeling throughout my first trimester. It was a conversation we had many times, and each time I would think, “At a time like this, who really cares about how I’m feeling?”
I would always respond and ask Margaret how she was feeling, and even in her sixth week of treatment, when I knew she was exhausted and enduring physical pain, she would only say that “she was feeling a little tired.”
I guarantee there are people acquainted with Margaret who never knew she was undergoing cancer treatment. At certain times, I wondered why she didn’t mention it more. Surely, if I were put in similar circumstances, I would be coming unglued at the seams.
But I’ve rarely seen someone exhibit such grace in the midst of personal tragedy. That’s one of the things I love most about Margaret. She loves those around her selflessly, even if it takes every ounce of energy she’s got.
Nevermind the fear I’m sure she felt. Nevermind her physical pain and exhaustion. She was doing her best to shelter those she loves from her reality.
We were so blessed to receive good news several weeks ago that Margaret was officially cancer free. Other than annual check-ups, she could get back to her normal, active lifestyle. We never considered what the other option might be, but I know our family, and this world, needs someone who loves people the way Margaret does.
I love how she’s such a loving mother to my husband, and how she loved me instantly simply because I was his wife. And I can’t wait to see how she loves our daughter, too.
This Mother’s Day, I’m especially thankful for the mother I acquired through marriage, and the lessons I’ve learned just through being an observer of her life, in tragedy and triumph.
At my table, there’s always a piece of butter cream sheet cake to share with extraordinary women like Margaret.