Normally I would make a point of having a picture of someone I'm remembering. Not so much in this case. My mother-in-law was a very private person. And since she is not longer here for me to ask permission, no image is included. Or I may add later after I ask James.
So the question rises...what might I share about her that would tell you of her without sharing too much?
Well, first let me share that she was a woman who had a depth of determination that was noteworthy. The earliest example I heard about was her being in high school and a teacher of hers wanted to "simplify" her name and make it sound less Polish. She wouldn't. There's a slightly longer story that goes with that, but more memorable to me, was the look in her eyes when she retold the story to me. I recognized that look of defiance; still deep, still genuine, still strong - generations later.
My first two interactions with her were also telling. James introduced her to me over pizza in Princeton. I think we were both walking on pins and needles verbally. Then something happened, I don't even remember what it was, but she and I had a genuine moment of mutual embarrassment. We were both a bit of old school in sensibility. And seeing us in mutual discomfort made James laugh a little at us. Which ticked both of us off - a bit. And then we all laughed when we saw the circumstance and the responses.
Next noteworthy instance for me, was an evening that she and I shared in New Jersey. James, Kate, and I had stopped to visit her before we went to Austria and Germany. James and Kate had come down with a bit of a cold so they were asleep. I stayed with her and we talked for the longest time. Part of the conversation was really good and then there was the anti-catholic rhetoric she shared. Did I mention that I'm a Catholic and she knew it? Anyway, mixed in with the rhetoric was an appreciation for some Catholics. It was a long conversation. I chose to believe that she included me in the okay pool of Catholics.
Her obit shares much about here skills, her accomplishments, and her relatives. One thing that wasn't mentioned was her uncanny ability to figure out what gifts to get for people. Middle-aged, babies, teens, even tweens. On the whole that may not sound like much, but it speaks of her ability to be a great observer and of the love she had for each of us. She knew you, for you, and bought a gift that would make you happy. Doggone she was good at gift giving!
There is a lot more I could write about my mother-in-law, but I think what I've written gives you a sense of who she was.
On a very personal note I should add that because she was a strong-willed woman who loved her family, her son was able to fall in love with another strong-willed woman who loved him. In some ways, that was the best gift that she gave to James and me. I know I treasure that gift and will treasure memories of her.