A diminutive woman of no more than five feet tall, I would guess. Up to my chest, no less. Frail you might think at first glance. Ha, ha! Don’t let her size fool you. She was capable of growing ten feet tall in no more than a minute. Soon, she could stand higher than skyscrapers in clouds of blue.
I never saw my mother-in-law afraid of anything. Hardly, I guess. Every winter, together with the love of her life, she visited the sunsets of Phoenix where the weather was warm and the pool water aqua clear. My little family of four helped to rent both of them a car that first year.
It had been a long time since my father-in-law drove off the farm of Michigan where cherry’s bloomed in pink and cobs of corn turned yellow. Behind the wheel he might have been a bit nervous in lanes of congestion with hazes of grey. I sat in the back with “Hank,” where she bit her lip till it nearly bled. Still, not a word came out of her pursed lips. Instead, she folded her shaking hands. What was in her mind? Probably a lot of love together with more of hopefulness.
We made it to their winter apartment with relieved smiles on faces strained. Windows opened in December to screens of black wire looking at fields of cotton just plucked. So different from where they had just come or what they were used to. Home. Such a big change for them. Seats on a sunken sofa while drinking sweating bottles of cool water. Lots of open mouths chatting with babies on laps. Kisses and hugs. Happiness to see “Grandma” smelling flower sweet, nearly white hair with skin-so-soft. “Grandpa” too, dressed in pressed trousers with matching plaid cap on top of shakers of pepper and salt. Love was in the air.
Today is special you see because my mother-in-law would have been 91 years old. I lost her nearly three years ago this summer. Together with her beloved husband of 67 years and her nine children, I sing “Happy Birthday” to her with love in my heart.
For you, Henrietta, from all of us here. Missing, Hank…..