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.
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.