Recently, my mother-in-law passed away after a short bout with cancer. Up to that point in her life, she had always been healthy. At age 86, she didn’t take any medications, and she would walk 2 miles a day—Monday through Friday (on Saturday if the weather was really pleasant).
Often her daughters would come over and walk with her, and she would always encourage me to walk with her, also. Being her next-door neighbor was a good enough reason to do it, but I always had an excuse: I was too busy, too tired, too grumpy, too lazy (probably the real reason). At one point I justified not walking with her because I didn’t want to get too attached to her.
Judge me if you must, but this reasoning came after her sister had passed away. For years, every morning between 7:00 and 7:30, she and her sister would call each other just to talk and check up on one another. After her sister passed, I saw the pain and loneliness that my mother-in-law had felt for her sibling, and I made a conscience decision that I didn’t want to suffer that.
Knowing that she was a bit older than I, I assumed she would go before me and I was preparing myself emotionally (some psychologist out there can work on that if they need to). But when I began to reason within myself, I saw this for what it was…just another excuse (a twisted one perhaps).
Eventually, I began to walk daily with her. She encouraged me, prodded me on, and took it easy on me those first few days while I adjusted to her walking pace. Actually, she was just recovering from a cold that she had harbored for several weeks, so she was only walking one mile a day in the beginning, and I was able to keep up with her (wow, that’s pretty sad, since I’m 43 years younger)
After several months of walking, talking, griping, and laughing together, she found out that she had a very aggressive form of cancer and was given 4 to 6 months to live. But like everything else she faced in life, she stayed strong, faithful, and level-headed. She got her house in order and began telling her kids how she wanted everything done. She planned out her own funeral, took care of all of her financial business, pretty much decided who was going to get what, and assured us all that she would be okay, because she had accepted Christ as her Savior and she knew her final destination (although we already knew this, because it showed in her everyday life).
My mother-in-law was many things; loving, giving, faithful, energetic, stubborn and proud. When she became too weak to walk with me, she still encouraged (and threatened) me to keep on walking for my health. And I did, mainly because there was a need for someone to stop in each day and help her with some meds (it kept me accountable).
She was a strong woman and wasn’t used to being helped out. But eventually, the cancer made it impossible for her to be by herself. We kids began taking turns staying with her, and my fear of becoming too close became my reality. We spent weeks doing ordinary stuff for her; talking with her, reminiscing with her, eating with her, watching TV with her, and just being with her.
And now I find myself missing her in the ordinary—when I walk past her house, Sunday afternoons, eating candy bars and drinking sodas, watching Matlock, and a hundred other things that became daily routines. So many things, that I couldn’t begin to list, and no one else would understand, because they are just my memories.
I see you in the ordinary,
In the things that happen day-to-day.
I see you in the ordinary
As I’m walking along life’s way.
I miss you in the ordinary,
In the things I daily do.
I remember you in the ordinary,
And realize how much I miss you.
In the commonplace of living
You have affected all of my days.
I miss you in the ordinary-
I miss your extraordinary ways.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”