Drifting thoughts of a snowflake

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


The first time I met my mother-in-law I was 15. She was the complete opposite from any person I had met, not to mention my mother. My mother was an entrenched alcoholic who would just as soon slur at you as hit you. Based on this slice of life, my MIL (to be) was an opportunity to talk to someone older that wasn’t hopped up on painkillers and vodka.

She taught me how to cook chicken Marsala and make fruity sangria. I remember the first time I heard her say “pussy”. I was astonished that could come out of a woman’s mouth. MIL taught me everything from “needs and wants” in a relationship to playing boogies on the piano. We would talk about sex for hours, and she was open about the importance of giving and receiving. I would cry about my drunk of a mom, and she would cry about her drunk of a husband. In some ways we both needed one another.

When I went away to college, I would send her mother’s day cards. I heard through the grapevine she lost her house when the IRS came after her husband. I would visit her new apartment on summer and winter breaks. Gone were the fancy cars and her gorgeous plantation home. She healed herself in a pint sized flea ridden apartment with the aid of her husband’s mistress. By the time her husband got out of jail he found he truly has lost everything, including both women. She started her own business and began teaching middle school piano at a magnet school.

I lost touch with her for a year or two, but my relationship with her son spurred my return into her life. Back were the days of singing and endless hours of talking. She sends letters frequently about the flowers in her yard and the beauty of life. She’s taken to riding her bike and just finished a 30-mile bike race. I told her about a nude bike ride in Austin, and I think she’s on for next year.

She’s held my hand through the process of leaving her son, and cried with me over the loss of my grandfather. She writes me weekly to tell me I will always be her daughter, and I know she means it. I’ll miss Christmas morning pranks and cooking all day. I’ll miss jokes about her vibrators and her scandalous activities with men. Most of all, I’ll miss her nurturing way. The way she can look at me and see the person inside of me that I want to be. The way she understands when I can’t speak and just want to play the piano.

She’s my mom, and I think she’s spectacular. Through all of this, I can’t imagine a more loving person. I can’t imagine loving someone who was breaking my son’s heart. She amazes me, and she’s part of the reason I’m keeping my married name. I couldn’t be who I am today without her. We all deserve someone like this in our lives, but I know we don’t always get them. I’m grateful to have her as a friend.

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