Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: IN-LAWS (07/11/19)
- TITLE: Mom
By Arlene Baker
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She supported her childrenâ€™s decisions, congratulated their triumphs and stood them in any crisis. When her eldest daughterâ€™s husband developed a heart condition, Mom babysat her grandchildren, without complaint, for more than five years. She never expressed any frustration over keeping up with those three young grandbabies.
I loved going out with Mom. Just the two of us. She listened to my dreams and never put me down. However, the greatest challenge was shopping with her at any department store. Should we get separated, I could spend many minutes trying to locate her as the top of her head barely cleared the clothing racks.
â€œSomeday, Iâ€™m going to shove a bike flag down your back,â€ I complained more than once. Mom only laughed.
I joined the family just before my 25th birthday via marriage to her only son. I left the west coast to move to my husbandâ€™s (as well as my own fatherâ€™s) quaint hometown. His entire family welcomed me with open arms and hearts.
Not long after my move, I asked Mom if sheâ€™d like to go shopping at a mall 45 minutes downriver. We hopped in my Corolla (they were much smaller back then) and I barreled down the four-lane that hugged the river, California style.
Ten minutes into the drive, Mom calmly said, â€œWe have potholes in Ohio.â€
My own father had instilled a love of history in me as weâ€™d visited many sites during my childhood. As soon as I learned my father-in-law was a WWII vet, I peppered him with questions. He obliged me with story after story. Later, Mom told me heâ€™d never talked about the war until I (in all my naivete) became family.
The one that has stayed with me for almost 40 years is this:
Five soldiers rode together in France. Because the jeep accommodated only four persons, Dad rode on the roof. After bouncing around on it for some time, one of his buddies said,
â€œHey, Joe. Youâ€™ve been up there long enough. Letâ€™s switch places.â€
Ten minutes later, a sniper snuffed out that soldierâ€™s life. Dad carried that haunting truth to his grave â€” that a man had died in his place.
After Dad's own death many years later, Mom gathered her children around to confess her most guarded secret.
â€œIâ€™m six years older than your father.â€
"What?" Her three children exclaimed. "That's impossible."
I laughed. â€œMom, Iâ€™ve known how old you are for years.â€
â€œHow?â€ Mom looked stunned. â€œI never told anybody.â€
â€œIt was simple,â€ I explained. â€œWhen I was still dating, I asked you how old you were when you birthed your son. I can do basic math. I added that age to my husbandâ€™s!â€
For several years, my husband and I hosted exchange students. When I visited Germany in 2000, the family of my second student took me to see Gorlitz, on the Polish border. Momâ€™s parents and eldest brother had emigrated from Poland.
â€œCould we cross over into Poland?â€ I asked. â€œJust long enough to scrape up about a cup of dirt.â€ They thought I was crazy but humored me anyway. I collected the soil and we headed back into Germany. I gave it to Mom upon my return. She was beyond delighted. She was ecstatic.
â€œWhat will you do with it?â€ My husband asked.
â€œThis.â€ She carried her favorite potted plant to the kitchen table and mixed it with the soil already in the container. As long as she lived, Mom cherished her tiny bit of Polish real estate.
Mom was one of the greatest people Iâ€™ve ever had the honor of knowing. She demonstrated God's unconditional love throughout her long life. She was never a mother-in-law to me. She was my mom.
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