I was hoping my next post was going to be more renovation and design driven but life had a different path for us.
As I look back on our lives to just a year ago, I never would have believed so much could change in such little time. This time last year was a great time in our lives. We were able to take a few small trips as a family, which we had not been able to do much before. Our youngest was growing and changing daily while our oldest started playing in golf tournaments. It was a good stretch with lots of time to enjoy ourselves and our family.
Over the past 7 or so months our lives have consisted of Harvey aftermath and cancer, over and over and over. We have thankfully been able to have good times between all the stress, worry, and exhaustion but both have been hanging over our head for quite some time.
On May 11th, we lost my dear sweet mother-in-law. Even though we knew her diagnosis was not a good one, it stole her from us like a thief in the night.
The first time I made mention of this in my blog it was very brief. She was a very private person and she never wanted anyone to worry about her…EVER. So much so that we spoke to people after her passing that said, “I just talked to her and she said she was doing fine!”
During her sudden and rapid decline, the last three times we communicated together she told me. “I’m so sorry Jackie.” I tried my best to reassure her that there is nothing to be sorry about. I was happy to help her in any way I possibly could. It broke my heart that she felt the need to apologize because I would help her over and over and over again. Though we shared many I love you hand squeezes and sincere arm rubs during her final days, I am constantly replaying those words, in her voice, in my head.
Her cancer experience was a horrible one. She was such a positive and optimistic person yet she kept dealing with setback after setback after setback. With that being said, her hope and faithfulness during it all is truly what made her glow.
The home we have been working on, besides the one we live in, was her childhood home. After her father passed away, just two years ago, she decided she really wanted to live there. We all agreed on a plan for a slow renovation and we had it scheduled for her to move in this past December. That was before Harvey. The home flooded. The devastation of that experience was accompanied by a cancer diagnoses about a month and a half later.
Since the bottom floor of the home had to be gutted we decided to take the opportunity and go the extra mile with renovations. Since things had changed for her health wise, we wanted to make sure she would have nothing to worry about once she moved in. We decided to redo all the plumbing, electrical, water heater, a/c and ducts. We were just finishing up these major projects when things started to shift. Days before drywall was scheduled to go in, her health took a rapid decline. We decided to stall the project out as a whole to 100% focus on our time with her. She never had that chance to live there again. Though this crushed our hearts to the core, I have to give thanks that we didn’t finish early and have her living there when Harvey hit. That would have added a whole other layer of devastation to the mix.
I want to close this blog post with two things. First, a photo by local artist Germain Quintanilla. He came to my rescue when I asked him to do a drawing for her of her childhood home. I wanted her to have a beautiful piece of art that let her memories of the home run wild in her mind. Germain, she loved it and she was so incredibly touched. I know I have said it before, but thank you again. I am forever in debt to you for that. (You can see the drawing at the very end of this post) And second, I want to share the eulogy I gave at her memorial service a few weeks ago. A friend of mine, who I often go to for guidance, agreed to proofread it for me before I shared it at the service. After she read it she told me, “People like her deserve her story to be told. You tell it again and again.” This is me, sharing with the world, just how great she was and to let others know, yes, there are truly good people who walk among us.
So you want to know what makes a good Mother-in-law and person? Let this be an example for all of us…
“I want to explain to everyone how Beverly gained the ever so glorious name of Grandma Bonkedy in our family. The road between our house and hers has always been a very bumpy one. When Cadel was younger, and she would come to pick him up or take him home, every time they would hit a bump she would say, “Bonkedy…Bonkedy…” Cadel thought it was hilarious and would laugh so hard. Over time, Cadel started defining her as Grandma Bonkedy. It was not the most glamourous name but she wore the name with pride!
Many years ago, before Chad and I were married, my mom told me about a time she was talking to Beverly at a football game when we were in 10th grade. Chad had been going through a typical teenage stage in life that was causing some kick back at home I suppose. She told my mom, “I wish Chad would spend more time hanging out with someone like Jackie.” It’s been about 17 years since I’ve been around and it has been a privilege to be a part of her family since then! I hope I am everything she could have ever wanted for him because I know she is everything I could have ever hoped for in a mother in law.
Grandma Bonkedy was hands down the absolute most considerate & selfless person I have ever known. I don’t think she ever went to the grocery store without first asking me if I needed anything. And if I did, she always brought back plenty & then some! I always told my friends, “If I called her right now and told her I needed her right arm, she would probably rip off both arms to give me just in case I needed two.” We always had to watch what we would say to her during casual conversation about wanting or needing anything. In many cases, those things would somehow find their way to our homes days later. She had a heart of gold & one of service and it wasn’t limited to her family.
Her coworker Susan shared a story with me about a time a fellow co-worker at work was ill. Someone was secretly mowing his lawn for him during that time. Although Beverly didn’t know him well, she was the one mowing his lawn. She was also a part of a serve team here at church. While I was trying to be a part of a more fun and creative team, she gladly took the position of cleaning the restrooms between services. She did that job with pride because she knew it was something that would be helpful and necessary. After she would finish cleaning, she would sneak in and stand up there (top left) & often just stood against the wall for the remaining service. Why didn’t she sit? Because she wanted to make sure she didn’t interrupt anyone’s experience & that spot was most discrete. That’s the kind of person she was.
Grandma Bonkedy was our greatest cheerleading! She was always so supportive of us as a couple and as a family. She respected how we chose to parent our children and she supported any idea or dream we shared with her. And she loved getting her hands dirty! She was a big part of all the constant work being done in our money pit of a home. She has been on our roof, scraped ceilings, ripped up floors, put up hardiplank, painted and even helped us catch a bat that got into our home one night! You name it, and she helped us do it AND she genuinely loved doing it. When I would have a glass half empty moment about our home, she always made sure to fill my cup to the rim with the uplifting and positive motivation we needed.
I’m going to miss her for my husband… For all of you who know Chad, he was a really big momma’s boy! It was not the kind of relationship a wife would dread, but one that was oh so special. It was full of love, compassion, respect and an everlasting bond. And when I came along, I was not left on the outside, but instead welcomed to be a part of it. She molded the perfect example of how I want to love my grown sons and their future wives.
I’m going to miss her for my kids… I’m going to miss watching them wait for her to pull up as they look through the glass door. Or when they would tell her goodbye out back and then run to the front to see her drive around and say bye again. I’m going to miss seeing her drive Chad and Cadel’s golf cart at the tournaments while I stayed towards the back of the line to make sure Lex stayed quiet and civilized. I’m going to miss Cadel getting excited about spending the day with her and all the fun adventures they would have together. And I am going to miss seeing her at the bottom of the hill after church on Sundays while the kids would run down to her with excitement. She knew just how much the grandparent roll meant to Chad and I, and though her time was short, man…did she deliver.
And lastly, I am going to miss her for me. I’m going to miss her weekly texts asking how everyone is doing. I’m going to miss trying to find a place to stash 36 rolls of toilet paper and paper towels because she wanted to make sure we were stocked up. I’m going to miss her sarcastic humor. I’m going to miss the days after treatments when we would go have lunch and go shopping for things we thought we needed but probably really didn’t. But mostly, I’m going to miss her as my sidekick. Anyone who knows our family knows Chad has had his own ups and downs with his health over the years. I could ALWAYS count on her to be there. Not only for him, but also for me. We spent lots of time over the years in waiting rooms together and whether we were laughing, entertaining each other, talking serious, or sitting in silence, I knew I could always count on her to be there and ease the weight of the situation for us. I will always cherish that time with her because, though it’s in different ways, she was THE person that loved my husband just as much as I do. Though I hope we don’t travel these roads ever again, I will miss the level of calm she provided for us.
To Chad, Brian and Sarah, thank you for allowing me to help care for your mom in her final days. And to Sarah especially… We had some tough obstacles we had to overcome together during that time. Do know that I was honored to be there for her, for you and your brothers.
And for those of us who are followers of Christ, or are seeking to have a relationship with him, this is it! This is the kind of life we should strive for. Her life was not sin free nor one of perfection. She lived to serve….and serving is loving….and to love like that is to know Christ.
She served well, loved well, and she is now forever well in the arms of our Savior.”
With Lauve, (family name)
Jaclyn – In The Treehouse
4 thoughts on “How to be a Good Mother-in-law and Person”
Crying……so beautifully written Jaclyn. She was blessed to have you!
Thanks Rhonda. I really hit the jackpot with her. My mom and I have talked on multiple occasions how lucky I was to have such a good mother-in-law. It’s not typical seems like.
Oh my goodness the tears are pouring from my eyes. My own mother in law passed in December of 2016 and I miss her so much. She was very much like your sweet mother in law. I lost my husband, her son, over twelve years ago and was blessed to have spent a good part of my life in their love. God bless you and your family. Deb
Thank you Deb. Marrying into a loving family makes all the difference in the world. Sounds like we were both rather lucky to experience such great relationships. Im so sorry for both of your losses and I hope you find comfort in God during the days when it’s not so easy.