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The end of an era

My mother-in-law died yesterday, at the age of 90.

She was born in 1918 in a small town in Illinois. She left it during World War II when she joined the Marines. She had to stuff herself on milk and bananas to be sure she weighed 100 pounds, the minimum requirement for a female Marine.

She married my father-in-law, who was from Virginia, and they made their life in the Washington, DC area. They had one son and two daughters and lived most of their married life in a tiny brick house in Kensington, MD. Some years after my father-in-law passed away, my mother-in-law sold the house and moved to an apartment in a retirement community, where, thanks mostly to the diligence of my sisters-in-law, she was able to live until the day she died.

In her entire adult life, she never stood taller than five foot nothing, but she still managed to inspire my kids with the knowledge that Grandma was not to be trifled with. Grandma had been a Marine.

She saw a lot of change in her lifetime. When Charles told her that he and I planned to live together, all she said was, "I wish you had something more permanent to tell me about."

Some people complain about their in-laws but I've always considered myself to have lucked out in that department. From the day I met her, my mother-in-law never treated me with anything less than kindness and respect. After Charles and I got married, I asked her what I should call her. She asked me to call her Mom. And I did.

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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
ccfinlay
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
My condolences, Karen. She sounds like an amazing woman.
karen_w_newton
Feb. 26th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Charlie. She was pretty amazing.
scottedelman
Feb. 26th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
You and she and Charlie are in our thoughts, Karen.
karen_w_newton
Feb. 26th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Scott. I'll pass it on.
tomdoyle
Feb. 26th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
So sorry to hear this. My condolences.
karen_w_newton
Feb. 26th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Tom.
stephdray
Feb. 26th, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
She sounds like a remarkable lady. I'm so sorry you and Charles lost her. Perhaps you should write about her. She sounds like she was quite a character.
karen_w_newton
Feb. 26th, 2008 07:35 pm (UTC)
She had a will of iron. When the doctor told her to stop smoking, she did—just like that. Stubbed out the last cigarette and never had another.

If he had only told her that twenty years sooner she would have lived to be 100.

mindyklasky
Feb. 27th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
So sorry for your loss. You've got wonderful stories to tell about her - she'll live on in the memories of you and your family for years.
karen_w_newton
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Mindy. She will indeed.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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