February 26th, 2008

lake with rowboat

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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