Mothers-in-law – angels, and more
A while back, I wrote about Grandpa Thomas, a hard-working man who raised his family tending his small, rented farms as one outside job led to another, and the family, necessarily, moved somewhat frequently during those depression years.
The person who worked equally as hard at his side and bore him five children during very difficult times was Grandma Thomas, Emma, my mother-in-law. She reminded me somewhat of the mama in the movie Grapes of Wrath, always packing up to move to another home… sometimes not much more than a shack… and always taking care of her offspring while cooking on a wood stove and washing their laundry by hand. She was the constant supporting mate of her husband.
Yes, I know… and I've heard all of the rude stories about mothers-in-law, but I can only conclude that the storytellers didn't know doodly squat about the subject of their derision.
My mother-in-law was a tremendous person with a heart as big as all outdoors and a truckload of courage. Her mama died when she was born. Later, her papa re-married and worked as a farmer in Canada where Grandma Thomas spent much of her teenage years.
It is after she married Grandpa Thomas, when they were young, that the hard times of the depression made their life very difficult. The young family lived in 17 different places and towns until much later in their life when they settled down in Yelm… spitting distance from Olympia and Tacoma. After a number of years on that farm, still equipped with only a wood stove on which she managed some fantastic meals and lip-smacking pies, while she did the canning of seasonal vegetables to be stored in the root cellar for later use.
Many years later, in the Autumn of their years, she and Grandpa Thomas moved to Seattle where they lived in a small but delightful home (with the white picket fence she had always dreamed of) near Ballard. It was fully equipped with an electric stove and oven and was festooned with flowers she and Grandpa Thomas nurtured daily in their small patio.
When Rosie and I were having our own tough times, just after I was honorably discharged from the Navy and working a split-shift in a service station for starvation wages, Grandma Thomas brought us canned fruits and vegetables and always at least one of her famous pies.
You'll never hear me make a caustic remark about my mother-in-law. She was an angel.