Last Saturday, the 22nd of June, one of the most important people in my life passed away——my mother-in-law, Mary-Jane. M.J. was a special person to all who knew her. She had that tactful ability to make you smile, even when you were in a rotten mood. If you were down, so was she, and she wouldn’t allow you to leave her side without resolution by means of a good, compassionate talk. Most people’s mind’s don’t function like M.J.’s, in that if she had something to say it was never behind your back——a quality I think she learned from her mother and passed on to my wife, Brenna. Yet, it was never cruel or judgmental.

She was inherently kind and lived for her daughter. Brenna is her pride and joy. M.J. would do anything for her, at any given moment, without petition or complaint. Sure, they got on each other’s nerves at times, but they always wound up hugging it out not long after with many tears, apologies, and kisses.

She never missed an opportunity to tell a story, and it didn’t matter how many times you’d heard it before, she was going to tell you once more. If ever you’ve sat and conversed with M.J., chances are you know a great deal about Brenna’s infant years, especially regarding the man who was “really black”. Her laugh was infectious, her heart enormous, and her impression is everlasting.

While it hurts that she’s gone, I feel so blessed to have been able to know her. Many have terrible relations with their in-laws, but M.J. came to refer to me——on a frequent basis——as her son. I also accepted her as a mother. We lived with her for nearly five years through a gauntlet of her health issues, joint emotional times, equally happy moments, and created memories that will never expire. She endured more than any one human should have to and none of it did she deserve. However, even in painful times, her faith in the Blessed Mother never wavered.

Last fall, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. I remember that day vividly. It was only us two and I was headed to work. She said she felt dizzy and went to sit up, then passing out. I caught her in my arms, laid her down on her side, and called the ambulance. I was frightfully scared and paced about waiting. By the time the EMT’s arrived, she awoke and was again coherent, but said she was fine and didn’t need to go to the hospital. In that way, she was headstrong. She wanted to do everything herself. I made them take her that day. Otherwise, she may have died. Thenceforth, she referred to me as her angel.

Almost a year later, I wasn’t there for her. I know she wouldn’t hold me responsible, but it’s hard not to question where you were that day, if there was anything you could have done. Life will not be the same now. We will never forget our time and memories with you, Mom. To say you will be missed is a gross understatement. I thank you for your care and wisdom. You raised, and were, a beautiful woman. The last thing I can promise you is that I will take care of your Brenna. She misses you so, as do I. We love you more than these words can express…


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