The Unlikely Gift
Mothers-in-law get a bad rap. Luckily for me, my sons-in-love think I’m pretty ok. I know that sometimes that relationship can be strained and difficult for as many reasons as there are couples. Sometimes however, you get a complete jewel and love the addition to your life.
A few years back I was married for the second time. With my wonderful new husband came his wonderful mother. She was a lady who asked him when we were engaged, “Do you think you are ready to spend your life with a real Lady?” How could I not love her from day one?
However, one Christmas she sent me a gift. It was a strange towel-like thing that I couldn’t figure out how to use. Her note only said, “Because you have such luxurious long red hair.” So I knew it had something to do with my hair. I smiled, was grateful (and told her so) for her thoughtfulness, but I put that gift away in the cupboard seldom to be revisited.
This will be the first mother’s day without my husband’s mother in our lives. Last year she unexpectedly passed away. It was of course hard, but harder because it was so unexpected and immediate. No more texts saying, “Merry Christmas!” in June because it was snowing in Utah. No more little ‘thoughts for the day’ texts or random calls sharing her life. No more drop-in visits (with her two dogs – ugh) for extended periods as she traveled to see ‘her fam.’
Losing someone is difficult. It is made easier when you have something of them left to linger on. So I took out the funny towel-thingy and gave it another try. Suddenly, it made sense. I had been trying to put it on upside down! I knew its purpose (for my hair), I loved the giver (my mother-in-love) and I even loved the thought behind the gift, but I didn’t understand how it could work for me. Now I did. Now. . . I don’t dry off after a shower without it. Now, I think of her every single time as I wrap my hair securely and keep my sight clear to finish my preparations for the day. Her gift to me is used and loved and a constant benefit because I now understand how it works in my life.
The Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. … For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? … Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands (1 Nephi 21:13, 15–16).
I adore my mother. I honor and cherish her. I love that I am a mother, and that has been one of the greatest blessings of my life, but I also treasure the mother whose womb I didn’t come from, but who taught my husband how to treat me (and open my doors). Who sacrificed and cared for him when I was not yet there to do so, and who raised him up to love the Lord. I’m grateful for the understanding of relationships that you must sometimes grow into and understand in a new way, how they fit into your life. I’m grateful for the lessons they inspire on so many levels.
Thank you Linda Jeanne Nipper (Keller) Wilson for being a woman of God, a daughter of the Divine, and a mother to many more than those who share your blood. You are missed; you are loved and still thought about daily.