I regret that I didn’t write this letter when I had the chance to give it to you in person.
Even though Dad asked me to, even though I knew you had been busy writing letters to family and friends since October, making the best of the time you had left. But I chose to procrastinate because I thought by doing so I could somehow extend the time you had — or rather, the time we had together.
You were a model mother-in-law. You didn’t criticize my taste in clothes, my cooking or my parenting. Although we didn’t have a daily closeness, I felt I knew you, and you knew me. We liked one another and when we had those rare opportunities to be together, just the two of us (and then, the three of us with Alice), it was never a strain. It was always a good day.
For this family, you provided many things, one of which was constancy. We relied on your good organizational skills to help us prepare for the next holiday with the right set of decorations, or for Alice, the next grade, with just the right book. Your birthday and anniversary cards always arrived on time, often with a much appreciated check. No doubt it was your training as a teacher that bred such loyalty to the calendar, and we all learned from your example.
You were a great teacher. You taught me so many things.
I will never forget when you taught me how to say No to Alice. She wasn’t yet two and kept wandering over to play with the blinds on the front window. I would say, No, no baby, and move her away, but she kept going back. You went and stood in front of the window and waited for her. When she reached for the chord again you held it high, looked her right in the eye and firmly said, “No.” She did not cry. She moved away and never fooled with it again.
Although we were both saying No to the baby, you said it with conviction and that made all the difference in the world.
Your love and attention made all the difference in the world to so many people in your long career as a teacher, but never more than to those you held dearest: your amazing sons, your loving daughter-in-laws, your beautiful grandchildren and your devoted husband.
We are given only one mother in this world and we should bless her, everyday. But we are blessed too by all the women who will mother us in this life.
I was a lucky woman to have you as my mother-in-law. We had no unfinished business between us and for that, I’m grateful. But I regret that I didn’t write this letter in time, to tell you how much you gave to me and how much you meant to me — and how much I loved you, and always will.