Random Conversations

My Ex-Mother-in-Law – A Love Story

My Ex-Mother-in-Law – A Love Story

Share this:

You are still in my heart

It is my ex-mother-in-law’s birthday as I write. We loved each other from the moment our eyes met, and that never wavered to the day she died. She would have been 107.

Our First Meeting

Rose and I first spoke by phone. I was told her only comment was that I laughed a lot. That is very true, but I wondered if it was a cultural judgment – British vs. American ways of being. I understood later that she had low expectations of liking any woman in her son’s life.

At the end of my marriage, she said:

“You were the only good one.”

How could I not love her?!

Soon after we married, Peter (my now ex-husband) and I went to England for my introduction to Rose and the rest of his family. We drove up the driveway and out she came with the biggest of smiles – matched only by my own. Warm hugs followed and we didn’t let each other go.

Peter had told me earlier that there would be a time during our visit when Rose would pull him aside to talk privately. He didn’t want me to feel hurt or offended and explained that one does not air their dirty linen in public.

That is not what happened. I was immediately trusted with all the metaphorical linen.

The Ex-Years

I used to tell Peter that his mother would come with me if we ever divorced. He laughed it off, but that is pretty much what happened.

He wouldn’t tell her our marriage was over. I think he was afraid of having that conversation. But she knew something was wrong and, finally, it was me who shared the news, adding that this had nothing to do with our relationship going forward. Her response: “You’re damn right it doesn’t!”

I went to see Rose three or four times over the following years. When asked my reason for coming to England, my response was that I had come to see my ex-mother-in-law.

It was men working at passport control for all but the final visit. It tickled me to watch them try so hard not to come back with a quip – finally regaining their demeanor long enough to welcome me to the country.

It was a woman I interacted with the last time. She responded with the kindest look and said, “That is so nice!” And it was.

This visit with Rose found us mostly conversing in silence. She was in pain and life was becoming a struggle. We simply sat together, enjoying the warmth of our mutual caring. There was nothing more that needed to be said.

Happy Rose’s Birthday

The calls on Rose’s birthday are now to her daughter – someone else who came with me in the divorce.

I called this morning to wish her a "Happy Rose's Birthday" and was greeted with, "I knew you would call today." We then shared warm and wonderful memories of this extraordinary person as we celebrated her life – something we often do.

My heart opens wide when I think of her – bursting with love.

Happy Birthday, Rose!

Photo by Martin Sepion on Unsplash

Cathy Joseph is the author of the Random Conversations blog and is currently seeking representation for her book, The Art of Having a Delicious Conversation.

© 2022 Cathy Joseph. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “My Ex-Mother-in-Law – A Love Story”

  1. So today is my mother-in-laws birthday. Edith would have been 106. My mother-in-law was a party girl just like Peter. She is sorely missed. We truly miss her and totally enjoyed your reminiscence on this special day

    1. The stereotype of a mother-in-law is in great need of updating. I have never been one, but if and when I do, I aspire to be like Edith and Rose. Thank you for sharing, Phyllis!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *