Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. (Ruth 1:18)
This passage is sometimes used at weddings, which is appropriate. But it has nothing to do with the love between marriage partners. It was the plea of daughter-in-law Ruth to her mother-in-law, Naomi. Naomi and her family had to migrate to another country because of a famine. While they lived in the foreign country her sons grew up and married women from their new country. Then her husband and both sons died. Naomi decided to head back to her home country. Ruth insists on going with her.
I was blessed with a gem of a mother-in-law. This week marks her 92nd birthday. Assorted health and other issues make it difficult for us to communicate now. When she was much younger and I was a new mother, she became a second mother to me. Circumstances were such that we lived with her and my father-in-law for a brief time between homes. Much of what I learned about how to tend to a new baby I learned from her during that time under her roof.
Years later when I needed parenting insights on how to respond to assorted adolescent issues, I was as likely to consult with my mother-in-law as my own mother. My mental scrap book is so full of good memories of holidays and vacations spent around her kitchen or dining room table.
My mother-in-law did a fine job of raising three sons. According to those who were around for their childhoods, this was no easy task as the sons are close in age and came equipped with generous doses of energy and a love of adventure. She loved to entertain – the more the merrier. Holidays usually found her in the kitchen calmly coordinating the preparation of multiple family favorites while various combinations of children and grandchildren milled around.
She doted on her five grandchildren. My daughters tell me they were allowed to eat lemon meringue pie for breakfast because lemons are fruit. She went to heroic lengths to attend each one’s high school graduation even though these took place in three different states. She attended each one’s wedding, which involved traveling to four different states.
I haven’t gone where my mother-in-law has gone, but I have surely benefitted from all the years my life has been interwoven with hers.
Happy Birthday, Martha!