We received some sad news today. R called me at work this afternoon to tell me that his mother was gone.
We knew this was coming. She had been in poor health for a few months and it seemed that things were winding down.
My MIL was born in Shreveport, LA, IIRC, in 1923. (I'll go back and clean up any details that I get wrong.) Her family moved to Memphis when she was a little girl. She had two sisters, one who died several years ago and one who lives in Louisiana now; and a brother, a Merchant Mariner who died when his ship was torpedoed in WWII. My MIL went to work during that war, repairing shot-up airplanes with sheet metal and such, so she was a real-life Rosie the Riveter. She worked in telegraphy too, and did some other stuff, and then after the war she married my FIL and they set up housekeeping and had some kids: 6, over a 21-year range. There were four boys, of whom my R was the last, and then two girls. And there are numerous grandchildren, and a couple of greats.
She read a lot - there was always a book by her chair with a bookmark in it - and she especially loved mysteries. She loved the old romantic movies, the ones with Cary Grant and people like that, and swing music. And she loved her kids, and also everybody else who loved her kids.
Her Brunswick stew was a thing of surpassing wonderfulness. We had it every Christmas. That was pretty well an established recipe, but she loved to experiment in the kitchen. I remember once she made some kind of lemon dessert, and got it so tart that when I had the first experimental bite it grabbed my jaw like a case of the mumps. Fortunately I had a glass of milk near at hand. We all laughed about that.
Years ago, saddened when one or another of her kids got divorced, my MIL asked me to promise never to leave R - she wanted it in writing. I told her that I seemed to remember signing something when I got married, and she said that that didn't seem to stop some people, so I picked up an envelope from the table and wrote on the back of it, "I will never leave R", signed and dated it, and gave it to her. She put it away somewhere. Long after, my in-laws' house burned down, it took about a year to rebuild while they lived with my SIL, and afterwards when we had settled in the new comfortable living room, she said to me, "That piece of paper burned." So I wrote her another one. I suppose it's there somewhere still.