Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Mother-In-Law

Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 95th birthday. Sadly, she passed away a few days before her 89th birthday. Today when I opened my Facebook site, there were five or six status threads about this feisty, much loved woman, some posted by her children and others by some of her grandchildren. Each status thread had many comments, anecdotes, and memories of her over the years. It was great to read them and participate on the threads, honouring her in such an unplanned, spontaneous way.

Thelma Mae Bruce was born on January 27, 1915 in Taxis River, New Brunswick.

She was the eldest of 10 children and because of her mother’s failing health, she was instrumental in raising her siblings, quitting school at an early age to do so. She married Ralph MacKenzie just before World War 2 and raised their son, Bert, alone for the 5 years Ralph served in the Canadian army overseas. After the war they added three more children to the family, Cheryl, Joyce and my Lloyd.

Joyce, Bert, Lloyd, Cheryl, Thelma

I’m not going to go into the details of her long life here – I’d probably get some of the details wrong anyway. I just want to show some photos that indicate who she was and why she was loved so much.

4 generations - Grandson Rob, Son Lloyd, Father Berton, Thelma

She was a country girl with simple tastes and expectations. Her greatest joy was found in her children and grandchildren. She loved to feed people – she and Ralph owned and operated a very successful restaurant for a number of years and she was famous for her meat and potatoes meals and pies. She seldom sat down with the family to eat. To this day among family members the term “doing a Thelma” refers to any woman who hovers around the dinner table, making sure everyone has lots to eat and dishing out seconds whether they’re wanted or not, usually eating standing up behind the seated group so she could keep an eye of everything.

Cheryl, me, Ralph, Joyce and Thelma

Her family was her life. She raised and nurtured her siblings, children and grandchildren.

Sharing her birthday with grandchildren Jake and Rachel in 1983

Ralph and Thelma with our first 4 kids
Rob, Jenny, Amy and Sara

Family Reunion in 1978
Lloyd and me, Alan and Cheryl, Ralph and Thelma, Joyce and Larry

This embarassing picture shows Thelma beating me in the annual
family reunion foot race. She had more energy than anyone else I knew.

Thelma with her four children,

She and Ralph enjoyed a peaceful life after their children had grown and left home, until he died of a stroke in 1981. She continued to live on her own but moved closer to her daughter Joyce and spent her remaining years being a super grandmother to Joyce's three kids.

Thelma and Ralph.

She had to endure the worst pain a parent can experience when her oldest son Bert died of cancer in 1999. She never quite recovered from that pain. Her health began to deteriorate quickly after that, her diabetes worsened, her eyesight and hearing dimmed, until she passed peacefully surrounded by family. She'll never been forgotten.

This picture was taken just a few months before she passed away.

As mothers-in-law go, she was the best. I’m pretty sure she liked me, as long as I kept her baby boy happy. She never interfered or tried to offer advice. I don’t think she ever called me a “horse’s ass” which was her term of choice for anyone who she felt was doing anything stupid. She just loved us all, and smiled and fed us instead of telling us so. I am eternally indebtedly to her for the wonderful grandmother she was to our kids and to providing me with the love of my life.


Anonymous said...

Very nice honey. Actually she was born in Hayesville but raised "over on the Taxis." And yes, she loved you.

Mary said...

Great tribute mom, it made me miss her lots!

JQ said...

Aww, I hope I get a daughter-in-law like you.

Mickey said...

That was lovely Pat! Loved all those old photos too
I like Mothers in law and wish everyone did!