Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: In-Law(s)( 05/08/08)
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I was in awe, and I hadn’t even met her yet. I sighed just thinking about how he called her his princess. We were going to live with her; nothing could have made me happier.
“And this is my mother, Chloe.” I heard the words when Adam introduced us, but I didn’t comprehend them.
Surely not, I thought as reality set in. The woman before me quickly ran her hands through her stringy brown hair that resembled a bird’s nest tied up with a scarf. A childhood bout with chicken pox had left moon craters on her cheeks. Her shy smile revealed a broken tooth on one side.
I blinked back tears of disappointment that she mistook for joy, for she enveloped me in a gentle hug and said she was happy to finally meet me, too. She had just come in from removing feathers from scalded chickens, and the smell did take my breath away. In fact, it sent me into a panic. But when I looked into her eyes, I saw what my precious husband had seen all his life. Love. Boundless, unconditional, God-fearing love.
Chloe's love for me saved my marriage. Adam didn’t know I had never cooked in all my life. He didn’t know I had never dusted or cleaned. Gardens grew and took care of themselves, just like animals…so I thought. I’d never been around either. He didn’t know, and because of my mother-in-law, he never found out.
It was a rainy day, in more ways than one, when she found me crying in the kitchen. I was to cook supper that night. She set aside the eggs she had gathered, and donned a clean apron. She slipped another one over my head and tied it in the back. Without a word, she got out her worn cookbook and took me through the steps of making chicken and dumplings. Adam took one bite and said they were as good as his mother’s. When she smiled her shy smile, I looked up to see the sun shining through the window.
The next morning, I eagerly set out to help her in the garden. She took one look at my silk dress and sandals and led me back into the house. With that sweet smile, she handed me work clothes and garden boots. Before she put a hoe into my hands, she took a scarf from her pocket and tied up my hair. By the time we were done weeding, my messy hair would have made any bird envious. When Adam kissed my dirt-smudged face later, he said I was a princess, just like his mom. Chloe's complexion glowed. I'd never seen her look so beautiful.
A year later, the sound of someone praying drew me to the barn. The voice flowed as free as the waterfall on the hillside and had a lilt to it, like the nightingales that sang at dusk. Chloe knelt beside a mare that Adam had given to me as a gift. It was her first foal and a difficult labor. When a wet and slimy colt made its way into this world and stood on wobbly legs, Chloe threw her bloodied arms around me and thanked God for the miracle of life. I stood in the middle of the stall and breathed in the scent of roses as she patted my burgeoning tummy. I couldn’t wait for my son to be born and get to know his amazing grandma.
I miss her. She walks the streets of heaven now, where angels are taken with her true beauty. I sigh just thinking about it, which reminds me of the letter I received from my new daughter-in-law. I take it out and carefully unfold it. Once more, I skip to the last lines, “You sound like such a princess; I can’t wait to meet you.”
They’ll be here soon. I tuck a strand of hair into my scarf…
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