With today’s Feast of the Holy Family upon us, I feel compelled to take a moment to reflect on my own family and share my thoughts with you, my loyal and luscious readers. But where to begin?… I think the first place to start is by looking around and writing in the moment.
Yesterday was a busy day. I have already mentioned that I have the most wonderful mother-in-law a guy can have. I mean that. In absolute sincerity I cannot find a negative thing to say about her. It’s not like I sit around trying to find bad things about the woman; but if I did I’d come up blank. Regular readers will note that it has been a bumpy ride where Miss Wilma (MIL) is concerned. Pardon the stream of consciousness but I didn’t sketch out an outline tonight. I first met Wilma after my wife and I got engaged. From the moment I encountered her I knew that this was a woman in whom could be found no guile. We just clicked. I could tell she knew how to enjoy a good meal with a good drink, good conversation, and good friends. A few months later I traveled to Texas to visit the family. My wife’s dad was out of town the whole time. But when I walked into Wilma’s house, the work she had put into making me feel at once as welcome as the most honored of guests and just like one of her family, I truly felt at home with the woman. I don’t know that I ever mentioned this to my wife but when I got home to New Jersey I sat down and wrote a letter to Wilma to thank her for her hospitality and to thank her for raising such a wonderful daughter. I know so many couples who have in-law problems. I am thankful not to be among them. Wilma and I truly get along. Over the past few years living in Texas I have experienced a lot of emotions I haven’t always liked. But every time I have gotten down about not seeing the people I grew up with or over the lack of seasons, I always knew I could talk with Wilma and it was just like talking with my own Mom.
So when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in September two things happened to me. The first was a brief twinge of fear and pain that I might lose this wonderful woman. The second was a recognition that God had programmed me with a gift of being able to take care of the sick. I don’t know why but I’ve always found it natural to clean up after/run errands for/hold the hand of a sick person. People tell me I’m calming during these situations. I’m just happy to do it — especially for the one’s I love. When her hair fell out I could think of no other option but to shave my own head. And when she came down with the flu last weekend (and I was recovering from similar symptoms) I was happy to be able to take her to the emergency room on Sunday night. Needless to say that this Christmas week has been busy. Wonderfully full, but busy.
Did I mention that I can also count on Wilma to be my daily mass partner? Even if she’s already been to mass, if I ever wanted someone to come with me, she’d happily go again. And we’d find some way to laugh at the bad voices of the other congregants’ singing. This morning, knowing she still wasn’t 100% back to normal, I drove over to pick her up for the 11:15 mass at the local priory. When I got there she mentioned how sad it was going to be that Vicky wouldn’t get to visit us this year. Vicky is another reason I’m so glad to be a part of this family. She’s my wife’s cousin and she lives in North Carolina. She always visits us at Christmas. Except, this year, Vicky’s dad is also being treated for cancer and they couldn’t make the trip. Vicky was flying out today and our Christmas visit just wasn’t going to happen. …Until Wilma came up with an idea. I pulled up to her house and she got in the car. “It’s a shame,” she said, “I was just talking to Vicky on the phone. Seems like we oughta be able to go get her for our visit and then take her to the airport ourselves, right?” She didn’t have to say any more. Before I knew it Wilma, my son, and I were driving an hour north to get Miss Vicky. You see, she goes out of her way to bring her family together. That’s just one of the many reasons we all love her.
Be sure to stay tuned for Part II!