Word Count 420
My Other Mother
By Nan Ressue
Let’s invent the perfect mother-in –law; A person who loves you because her child chose you; a person who taught by example and never gave advice unless it was solicited; someone who shared equally and never forgot your birthday card with the two dollar bills tucked inside; somebody who came to help, not expecting to be treated like a house guest; a person who taught by example; a thoughtful patient, happy, person with snow white hair and penetrating blue eyes. I don’t need to invent her. She was mine.
As a younger woman, her staggering work load revolved around seven children, a demented father, and a frequently sick husband. Her children were always free to invite friends home for supper and there were often a dozen or more sitting around the table. Big black iron frying pans filled with sizzling slices of ham browning on the woodstove cook top and an oversized brown ceramic batter pitcher waiting on the back of the stove ready to pour puddles of gold on to the griddle. Homemade bread was clearly her trademark, a dozen loaves made twice a week to satisfy many appetites and to provide sandwiches for everybody’s lunch. Homemade food came to our house in steady streams. Mason jars filled with peaches, pears, pickles and relish; fresh berries picked in season and shared generously; flower bulbs dug from her garden and planted in mine.
Her husband rarely left her side while she was cooking, sitting in the kitchen rocker with the dog under his feet, playing toe tapping tunes on his fiddle. He was her partner during tomato canning season, starting at midnight and working all night to can while the children slept due to the copious amounts of boiling water required to do the job.
Time has that habit of flying by and the day came when she began to bequeath her treasures to the appropriate new owner. One visit brought not only these lovely people to our home, but also the chocolate brown batter pitcher which now lives on a safe shelf filled with memories instead of batter. People of their generation stepped out of the wagon and into their new car with little or no driving instruction. It was no surprise when her husband innocently made alarming and hilarious statements on the subject of driving. “Herkimer has too many red lights so I don’t use them all’,” he declared during one visit. It was a car accident that took her life but not my memories. She was perfect.