A Labor of Love -- For My Mother-in-Law
I love my mother-in-law, Jackie. You heard me right. I really love her. She has always been one of the kindest, wisest people I have known. She gives sacrificially of herself and her time, and she even sold her home in San Antonio a few years ago to move within about 10 minutes of us so that she could help us when we had our second baby. She is the polar opposite of the typical "mother-in-law". I have never doubted that she loves me back.
I have always admired her ability to stay calm when faced with numerous health issues, including being a THREE-TIME cancer patient. In fact, in 1986, she was told to "get her affairs in order" because she was not expected to live much longer, as that was her second bout with cancer (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma). Well, they took her to a church healing service and she made it just fine, and she survived yet another bout in 1999. We are truly blessed that she is still here with us.
Recently, one of her vertebra collapsed in her lower back, which we think was caused by the recent onset of osteoporosis. They did a surgery to correct this a couple of weeks ago, and she is expected to remain in the rehabilitation hospital for about another month. I have visited her a couple of times, and my wife, Pam, has seen her almost daily (keep in mind that she is taking all three of our kids because I am usually working when she goes).
A few days ago, Pam was talking to her mom about the amount of stuff in her house. You see, Jackie has amassed a tremendous number of useless items, books, papers, bottles of medicine, old clothes, you name it. It is so bad that there is basically a path to each area of the home that runs through junk and trash (not filth per se, just useless items). Pam has tried repeatedly to get her mom to part with this stuff and to allow us to help clean it up for her, but it never worked until last week. She finally gave Pam permission to start getting rid of it, either by throwing it away or selling it. This is a huge step for Jackie, since her "stuff" always seemed to be really important to her. She didn't say it in a resigned or depressed way, just matter of fact, "I don't care about that stuff. Do whatever you want to do with it."
This is truly a catharsis for Pam, because it has been difficult for us to take our kids over to see her for years, as there really isn't a place for all of us to sit or to eat, and our baby (17 months old) wants to pull stuff over on her head and she seems to be allergic to the dust.
So, this is our latest project. My wife is passionate about this, as she has wanted to help her mom for so long. It will take both of us countless hours of labor to complete this job, but this is simply the kind of thing you do when you love someone. We love her, and this is important, so we will make time for the task.
What have you done to demonstrate your love for the people in your life lately?