Will You be Remembered for Your Role as Wife and Mother?
100 Years of Life…69 Years a Wife
My mother-in- law lived to 2 months over her 100th birthday. She left behind many grandchildren, great grandchildren, great, great grandchildren etc.
For me her greatest achievement was 69 years of being happily married. She was a great example for me. Her legacy to me personally was watching the last years of a devoted wife.
I met her when she was 80 years old. I married her youngest son who was born when she was 42. We married when he was almost 38 so we had a late start.
Spending Time Together was a Foundation of their Marriage
I lived in the same building as my in-laws for the first years of our marriage. I count it a privilege to have observed a wonderful couple who were devoted to each other.
In our region, most husbands head off in the morning to “coffee row” to hang out with the guys. Dad was never interested. If they headed anywhere, it was together. When Mom was at a women’s group meeting, Dad would be at the kitchen table playing solitaire. I would often head to their place to keep him company until she returned. I learned a lot about their history from these times together.
When Dad was away from home, Mum would keep an eye on the clock and you could see the relief she felt when he arrived home safe.It was so obvious they enjoyed being together and missed each other when apart.
The Small Things Mattered In their Language of Love
I loved the thoughtful things they did for one another. Dad at 96 was still doing all the vacuuming and he peeled all the potatoes for dinner. On Sundays after church, he cooked bacon and pancakes.
Mum kept their home running smoothly. Cooking and cleaning were still primarily her responsibility.
Neither mum nor dad were romantic. Dad didn’t bring her flowers or jewellery and mum didn’t gaze at him in admiration. They were sturdy farmer and wife. They worked hard and raised their four children. Church and community were important as well.
Dad was the primary breadwinner but mum worked hard on the farm and later outside the home as well. She also looked after boarders at times and looked after her mom until she needed professional care.
The small things made their relationship strong. They had their own way of talking to each other. She lovingly called him “the old goat” to which he would smile and his eyes would twinkle. He would remind her of old boyfriends that missed out and she would beam. Odd language but it meant love and respect to them.
At 96, dad was always well groomed and neatly dressed. Mum always had her earrings and a necklace in place. Small things to show they cared.
They often didn’t need words at all. Mum joked with me about how she knew what to serve him for lunch when she couldn’t decide. Their menu wasn’t varied. She would wait to see what he set the table with. Plates meant she would set out sandwiches. Bowls were her cue for soup. No discussion required.
I truly enjoyed watching this couple who had perfected their dance of life.
A Woman With a Servant’s Heart
Mum was not a shy or quiet woman. She was energetic and loved people. She had a servant’s heart almost to a fault. She loved to be doing and giving to everyone but found it very hard to receive help or gifts.
Neil had been living in his condo apartment alone before we were married and his mum would often sneak up and leave baking or make his bed or do his laundry. She didn’t stop when I came along. We used to laugh about our muffin fairy. She knew I was a capable cook and baker but she really needed to be looking after her boy in some way. We would often find little things done when we arrived home.
One valentine day, I decorated the apartment with construction paper valentines. I taped them on mirrors, hid them in drawers, and scattered them on table surfaces. We didn’t know she had been in our place but after a few days her curiosity won out. She just had to know why there were red hearts all over our apartment. We had a good laugh at her lack of romance. Her heart was in the right place so we never objected to her coming and going.
Laughter Was Always Better Than Anger
My own mom thought it would be hard to live so close to my in-laws. It was never a difficulty as the love they had for each other was an inspiration and I am so glad I got to know them.
Life was not always perfect. Both mum and dad had their quirks and some downright faults but they had learned to laugh at them long before I knew them.
Yes, they argued and they both had tempers but they never stayed angry for long and would revisit past upsets with humour. One example is the Sunday dad set off the smoke detector while making his traditional after church pancakes. Mum headed into the kitchen and became “madder than a wet hen.” She was furious. Dad was over 90 and his eyesight was failing. He had grabbed the icing sugar instead of the flour. The frying pan was ruined with the black sugar that was permanently baked on. She ranted while he cleaned up and we all went out for brunch. By the time we were at the restaurant, it was laughable and became a fond memory.
Mum was a back (or side) seat driver. It was much easier to let her drive and get into the passenger seat. My husband always said dad was even worse and he dreaded being the driver with dad alongside.
When dad gave up driving, mum became his driver. I was waiting for them to return one day to have mum enter the doorway as she put it “spitting mad.” She had a taste of her own backseat driving and swore she would never drive him again. Of course, she did and we were soon laughing about her first experience driving dad.
Mum was a worrier to the point that we all teased her about it. She always replied to any plans “If I’m still around.” Of course we all laughed. We heard it for years and she was very healthy.
I used to say they ran on Eveready batteries.
She Had the Gifts of Hospitality and Selflessness
Mum tried to tell me she had no spiritual gifts. She was thrilled when I told her hospitality was a spiritual gift. Mum spent most of her service in the church within the kitchen. She loved people and loved to feed them. If she invited anyone over for dinner, which was most weekends and some weeknights as well, she wasn’t happy till there was a full table of ten. I learned a lot about hospitality from her but I will never come close to her gift.
Mum spoke the languages of food and gifts. When you received a birthday card or an anniversary card from mum, it was not empty. She loved to give and was very generous. She loved to shop but rarely for herself. Dad spent one entire trip to Calgary trying to get her to buy herself a new spring outfit. She bought for everyone on her list but no outfit for herself.
They loved to entertain and hosted many parties in their home. Music and dancing filled their life. They travelled mostly with or to visit family and friends. I love all the photos and stories from a life well lived.
What will be your Legacy to the Younger Wives?
When she was alone for her last years, we spoke often about dad. She missed him so much. I was glad I had known him and could appreciate all the stories of their life together. 69 years of marriage is very remarkable.
She had worked hard to be dad’s helpmate. She understood his leadership even when she did not agree with him. She was a strong woman with her own opinions and I am glad I knew her.
Do you have women in your life you look to for guidance? Are you an older wife that others are watching? Do you take Titus 2:4,5 to heart?