Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Sometimes in life, the timing of certain events is so fantastically awful that really, all you can do is laugh. Other times, there’s nothing funny about it at all. This is one of those times.

Blaine’s mother Shirley passed away this morning in Oklahoma. We had been warned throughout the day yesterday that it was likely, but I still don’t think you’re ever ready to believe it. She suffered several heart attacks beginning Monday evening so I suppose the cause of death will be listed as heart failure ….. however, she had been in poor health for awhile so, to me, it’s more a case of a body that was simply no longer able to keep up with a spirit.

Blaine, naturally, is crushed. Even more so because he won’t be able to attend her funeral --- to be there for his brother and sisters and most of all, for his dad. He got out of the hospital today but isn’t allowed to fly yet, and that’s the only way we could make it there in time, plus get back to Seattle for his follow up care and appointment on Monday. It sounds so inadequate …. “sorry, we just can’t make it” …. I know his family knows how much he cares and his Dad knows, too, but that doesn’t make it easier on anyone.

So, since we can’t be there in person to tell them all how much we love them and say our goodbyes to Shirley, I thought I would once again use this Caringbridge journal as a cathartic way to speak my piece and hopefully pay tribute to the 4 foot 11 inch, red-headed dynamo that we’ll miss so much.

So, this is what you would hear if I were able to attend Shirley’s funeral and say something about what a wonderful person she was:

THUD! (That’s me, collapsing behind the podium from the fear of public speaking that I have.) :)

OK, seriously, here is what you would hear if I had the courage to speak in public about my mother-in-law:

Shirley Christine Escoe was, at times, a hard act to follow. I remember when Blaine and I first started dating, many (many!) years ago. I was 19, he was 21. He was still in college, living with his parents and I had my own apartment. I wanted to impress this new, “older” guy I had met, so I invited him over for dinner and offered to cook for him. My cooking repertoire was, shall we say, limited at that time.

I went to the grocery store where Blaine worked evenings to buy the ingredients for dinner. He and I were standing in the aisle visiting, and he glanced down at the items in my cart.

“What’s that?” asked Blaine, the suave, smooth talking college-man.

“Um, I thought we would have spaghetti for dinner” I replied, thinking, “Crap, what if he hates spaghetti? I don’t know how to cook anything else!”

Blaine looked down in the cart again, then looked up at me and said, simply and a little bemusedly, “My mom doesn’t use Ragu.”

Total. Silence.

I looked Blaine square in the eye, and said levelly, “Then maybe you should stay home and have dinner with your mom tonight.”

(Blaine still thinks that story is funny, even this many years later!)

Blaine and I have been married for seventeen years and I think he has finally come to terms with the Ragu that I still buy. I do not, however, think he has ever gotten over the disappointment that I never learned to bake an apple pie from scratch, homemade crust and all, like his mother could.

The first eight months of our marriage we lived in the same town as my in-laws and *never* turned down an invitation to dinner at their house. Reason a) because we were hungry and poor. :)

Reason b) because the woman could cook! Those will be my most prominent memories of her; food and family. It always seemed to me that she enjoyed herself best when surrounded by family. She had five kids, ten grandkids (did I count them all?) and even a few great-grandbabies snuck in there. With the two of them in Oklahoma, three of her children and their families living in Texas, one in Germany for many years, and one bouncing all over the place in the Air Force, it wasn’t often that we were able to corral everyone into the same place at the same time; but when we did, she relished the time with everyone together.

I remember hearing once (magazine? Book? Oprah?) about a woman who sent her mother-in-law flowers every year on her husband’s birthday. I thought that was a great idea and made a mental note to do it last year for Blaine’s 40th birthday. However, like so many of my mental notes, unfortunately, it slipped through the swiss-cheese portion of my brain and I forgot to do it. Now I’m sorry I didn’t do it this year, for his 41st. I should have told her "Thank You" for raising such a spectacular son. My life is blessed thanks to the wonderful job she did with him.

Shirley, I wish we had lived closer so we could have spent more time together. I wish my kids could have gotten to know their granny a little more. I wish I could have your home-made mashed potatoes just one more time. Most of all, I wish we could be there to say our good-byes in person.

Love, your daughter-in-law,
Ps. I promise to try harder on the homemade apple pie, ok?

No comments: