My mother-in-law passed away this weekend. But she wasn’t just any old mother-in-law. She was a true matriarch. Her passing was the end of an era and I’m struggling with that most of all. She had a long, full life. A solid faith. She’s reunited with the love of her life, my father-in-law, who we lost twenty-two years ago. And she left a legacy, so it’s a different grief that plagues me. More celebratory. Entwined with a certain kind of satisfaction over a well-lived life.
But that legacy…she and my amazing father-in-law had seventeen children. My husband is number fourteen. No twins. No adoptions (everybody always asks.) For some reason, everybody always asks, “Are they still alive?” too. As if having seventeen children is a certain death sentence. And from now on, I will have to answer, “No. We’ve lost them both.” And it’s sad. Even while I know there is nothing sad about the beautiful family they created and the beautiful lives they lived and the strong examples they set of honest, good living…it’s still sad.
I’m so thankful to have stumbled my way into this family. I’m surrounded and supported by such wonderful people. Good, honest, hard working, genuine human beings. Lots and lots of them. I believe her direct offspring currently totals an even 100! I have been changed by knowing this beautiful woman and though I’m certain she is and will continue to rest in peace, I am sad that I will no longer get to seek her calm counsel, hear a story from their younger years, or tell her how much I love her, her son, her grandchildren, and this humongous, wonderful family of hers.
Thank you, Mom and Dad McClean, for all of it. Rest now and watch over us.