One of the many ways I realize that I am getting old is where I see friends and acquaintances. It used to be that I saw the people I grew up with at weddings, first at each other’s and then at our children’s. Now it is funerals. I’ve another to go to Friday and it’s a tough one.
My ex-mother-in-law passed away Monday night at home in Milton, WA after a long decline in health. For many the loss of an ex-mother-in-law does not disturb the surface, much less the depths of the pond of life, but mine was special.
I married at age 19 which was a time when my mother was largely unavailable emotionally for me. Connie Casey welcomed me into the family and immediately became a source of love, support and guidance when I needed it and could always make me laugh. She was a good Catholic and a good Christian. In the truest sense she tried to live the very best sort of life and to offer love to everyone who came here way. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.
From Mom Casey I learned that there is always room in the dishwasher or refrigerator for one more thing. I learned that regardless of how many show up at dinner time you can "do the loaves and fishes thing" and there will be enough for everyone. I learned that when St. Anthony is done with a thing he will bring it back, but he can't be rushed. I learned how to be a mother. I hope I learned how to be a mother-in-law
When her son and I divorced eight years later I did not feel as though I was divorcing the family and continued to think of them as Mom and Dad Casey. Only in the last few years, when my exhusband's wife felt I was usurping her place in the family, did I back away from more frequent contact with my one-time family.
Mom Casey had breast cancer in the early 1990s and the chemotherapy caused her mind to become quite confused. The doctors said that it would clear up when the therapy was over and to some extent it did, but she was never entirely the same. Still she was a loving force in the family and my children loved her dearly.
So Friday I will be going to another funeral; one where I am not a member of the family per say, but feel as though I have lost another of the important grownups in my life. I will never forget the things I learned from Mom Casey when I was a young woman and mother. It was an honor knowing her and to be able to call her “Mom.” If I can be half the mother-in-law to my daughters-in-law that she was to me then maybe I will have achieved my desire.