Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Memory of Marybelle

Marybelle Connealy, my mother-in-law, passed away last week. And she was the best imaginable mother-in-law and one of my very best friends.

I know Marybelle wasn't enjoying life anymore. But about ten times a day it hits me that she's gone. And when I think of her, I don't think of the end, when she was in pain, struggling for each breath. I miss the wonderful lady who taught me so much. She was a funny, sensible, talented, loving woman.

Without her and her apple pies and her infectious laugh the world is poorer. That's not even a bit of an exaggeration.

What I've been thinking about is this philosophy I have that anything can be done well or done poorly. It's something I've said to my girls many times.

If you're a waitress, you go be the best waitress in that restaurant. If you're bagging groceries, you bring every bit of skill you have to the job.

I realize now that Marybelle taught me that philosophy. A vegetable peeler, a cake froster, a cherry pitter, a pie crust roller-outer...she did it all with flare and extraordinary talent. She could butcher a chicken and make it look like art. The speed, the skill, it was humbling. And she made it look effortless and while we'd work together she'd tell me stories of her sons growing up and the funny stories that ended up working their way into some of my books, particularly Calico Canyon. And she'd teach me, give me advice but mainly she just did it all so well that I learned just by trying to keep up with her.

Everyday things can and should be done with wild talent.

She was a genius of a farm wife, the best mother-in-law imaginable and her heart for her boisterous, ridiculously all-boy household (seven sons-can you imagine) was so huge and gentle and loving it was humbling.

And she showed amazing kindness and friendship to the variety of wives the boys all dragged home.

So being a mother-in-law can be done brilliantly, too, and she was the best.

This poem was on one of the sympathy cards we received and I think it's beautiful so I'm including it here.

The Journey
I set out on my journey when I was very young.

I knew not where the winding road would go.

At times the way was easy, the road was straight and smooth, the sky was blue and everything looked bright.

At times the road was rugged, the hills were long and steep, and darkness hid the view ahead from sight...

But never did he leave me - This Friend who came along, and never did He let me lose my way.

And every time I stumbled He offered me His hand, assuring me that I would be okay.

And then one day I saw it, at last--my journey's end, and what a wonderous sight it was to see!

For after all my travels, I'd found my way back home - the heavenly home that He'd prepared for me.
--Larry Sandman


Jaime Wright said...

Beautiful tribute to your sweet MIL. A blessing you had such a wonderful relationship with her too ... I look forward to meeting her someday with the rest of the saints who line the way.

Judy said...

Mary, you brought tears to my eyes. What a loving Daughter-in-Law you have been to honor your Mother-in-Law the way you did. Thanks for sharing the poem, The Journey. It touched my heart and made my eyes leak!! Praying for you and all the people this dear lady touched in her life time during this grieving period. God Bless You!

Mary Connealy said...

You should have seen her peel a potato. I'm telling you she raised everything to an art form. It's hard to describe her hands, flashing through things. Confident, easy-does-it. So humbling.
She could crochet and sew. The stories about her boys, bloodshed and near-death experiences to the point that she didn't even act upset when she'd talk about the stitches and the running trips to the doctor.
She'd tell stories and laugh and I always had such fun when I was with her.
She'd point to her refrigerator, "See how that's slid back into the wall? That's because the boys were wrestling and knocked the wall out into the closet and we just went ahead and knocked it the rest of the way out and slid the refrigerator in." And she'd laugh and say, "It's funny now, but trust me, I wasn't laughing when they did it. I kicked the wall in the rest of the way myself."
She'd shake her head in wonder that she got them all raised up alive. She was the living embodiment of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

Jan Drexler said...

She sounds like she was the kind of woman we could all strive to be like! And I hope I have just as good of a relationship with my future daughters-in-law as you had with her, Mary.

cooper said...

Mary, I'm so sorry. I knew Marybelle just well enough to know that everything you've written about her here has no choice but to be the exact truth. She did life well.

Amy K said...

Mary, I am so sorry for your loss. May God's hand be with you and your family in this time. It is wonderful you have all these stories and memories to remember her by. What a blessing to know such a wonderful woman.

Faye said...

I'm sorry for your loss, but it's good to know that you'll see her agin someday. Blessings.

Karen said...

Mary, I'm so sorry. That poem is wonderful, and prayers for you and the family.

Mocha with Linda said...

I'm sorry for your loss. What a sweet tribute. She sounds like a jewel of a woman. That generation was absolutely a breed apart.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary, you just blessed my heart and soul with this. You are such a gift to so many, and I bless that Marybelle had such a wonderful effect on you.

This tribute is more than words because I know you LIVED this attitude with her all your days. God blessed you with her.

But he also blessed Marybelle with you.

As hard as that is for me to believe most days. ;)

Come on, you didn't think I was going to STAY NICE, did you???

Michelle Gregory said...

feeling your grief. my mother in law passed away 2 days ago.

Mary Connealy said...

Ruthy, thank you from pulling back from that treacherous brink of niceness. You were scaring me.

Mary Connealy said...

Michelle, two days ago? Really?

Erica Vetsch said...

I bet she loved you just as much, Mary. And she was proud of you.