Joyce, my wonderful Mother-in-law

horseheader1.jpeGood Morning!

Forgive me if you will for not posting about something Western or something American Indian.  Bear with me as I digress.

montana vacation 037This is my mother-in-law, Joyce as I have known her for the 14 years that my husband and I have been married.  I can’t remember when I didn’t have an independent spirit — it seems to be a part of me — and so I was leary of mother-in-laws, I must admit.  But over time, I came to love an admire my mother in law as though she were my own mother.  This picture was taken in 2005 at her home in Montana.

montana vacation 063Since many of you who come to this blog are also on my email list, you probably know that I had to make an emergency cancellation of my book signing in Houston.  I was happily on my way to Houston when I received word that my mother in law, who had been sick, had taken a turn for the worst.  Needless to say I turned around (18 hours on the road that day) and drove home to be with my husband, who in turn, finished his work cycles in record time so we could get on the road to Montana the next day.  This picture to the right I think shows the amount of affinity and love between us.

montana vacation 041Off to the right here is a picture of my husband (on the left), Joyce and my brother in law, Bob, who passed away almost 2 years ago to the day (Bob is on the right in this pictuer).  Anyway, my husband and I arrived in Montana with just enough time to see her before she passed away.  She was unconscious the entire time we were there, but I still believe that she knew we were there.  And my husband was with her the moment she passed away from this world in this body.  She was surrounded by friends and family, and I can’t think of a better way to leave this life than to have those you love most around you toward the end of this life.

montana vacation 068She had been fighting cancer.  As an 84 year old woman, she had yet been given chemo and radiation therapy at the same time.  It proved too much for her and she ended the treatments simply because they made her so sick.  But damage had been done and her immune system was shot from all the chemo  What she died from was an infection that her body couldn’t fight off because of her suppressed immune system.  How I wish sometimes that I had a time machine so I could go back and change all that.

montana vacation 062I will miss her.  I can’t even begin to name the ways in which she helped both my husband and myself.  I can’t even begin to describe what it was like to have  a person there who truly cared so much about me — even though I was only the daughter-in-law.  Over the years, I came to love this woman very much — just as though she were a mother.  (This picture to the right by the way is Bob on the far left, Joyce and me — I don’t think I can still get into those jeans,  but that’s another subject.)

montana vacation 057I remember when my husband and I were first married and on our honeymoon, his mother and father called us.  I remember thinking at the time that this was strange (my own mother passed away long ago and I had been on my own and independent for quite a while).  I remember thinking, “Oh, dear, what is this all about?”  But over time I came to understand that she was showing her love for my husband and that eventually this included me, as well.  It was Joyce who showed me really what a mother in law can be — what is expected — what I should do — how loving I should be.  I will always remember this — always remember the love she showered on me and others and I am so glad that I had the chance to get to know this incredible individual.  The picture to the right is a beautiful kiss between my hsuband and my mother-in-law.

montana vacation 066My life is better now because of her loving care.  And I know that I’ll be a better mother-in-law, myself, because of the example she set.  Anyway, I hope you will forgive me from straying away from my usual sort of blogs on Native America.  In a way, this blog is along the line of a Western, if only because Joyce was raised in North Dakota and lived most of her life there and in Montana.  It was from my visits to her home, where I had the leisure to go to the Blackfeet reservation and the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservation.

May 2010 Montana trip 110 ~1We’re back home now in southern California — and our animals were happy to see us again — after our 22-24 hour trip — do I look as tired as I felt in this picture?  And of course life goes on as it was intended to do.  But there are some people who touch you greatly and this is the kind of  person that Joyce was.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and that I have managed to do tribute to her properly.  I know she’s okay and I know in some other time and place, she will be the source of joy to many, many people.  Our elders in Native America and in our past, have always been around helping, teaching, showing the way.  What would we do without them and their gentle wisdom?

I’d love to hear from you today and hear about people who have touched you[1]  So come on in and let me hear your stories, also.

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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35 thoughts on “Joyce, my wonderful Mother-in-law”

  1. I am so sorry to hear of your MIL passing, but it sounds like she lived a good full life with the love of her family..
    Many people have touched my life, but the one who has was always there for me was my grandmother.. She has been gone 16yrs now and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. We did so many things together as grandmother and granddaghter.. And I will treasure those memeories forever..

  2. Hi, Kay…

    You and your family continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for honoring your mother-in-law by sharing your very special relationship with all of us. Thank you for posting the photos showing the great love you all have for one another. My mother passed away almost four years ago. When she died, a very special friend of mine who was my “second mother” called to console me. Five days after Mom died, my “second mom” passed away. I lost them both in the same week, and that loss ripped a big chunk out of my heart! I am a person of deep feelings and strong faith, so my tears are mixed with memories both sad and sweet. Please take care of yourself and know that you have many friends who are holding you in their heart : )

  3. Hi Kay,
    I am so very sorry for the loss of your mother-in-law. What a blessing that you and your husband were able to make it to Montana before she passed away. I am sure she did know that you were both there. Your mother-in-law sounds like she was a wonderful, loving and kind woman, what a beautiful legacy to leave behind. It shows in the words of love that you write about her and in the photo’s that you have posted. My father died two years ago and it comforts us as a family to know that he was aware of us being there with him. My mother, younger brother and myself sat with my dad through a day, all through the night and well into the next day with him until he passed. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it was also the least I could have done, out of love and respect for a wonderful, husband, father and grandfather. You are right, life does go on, and the memories are there for us to cherish. Your family will remain in my prayer’s during the coming day’s.

  4. My own mother-in-law is one of my very best friends. I hate thinking of the day when I don’t have her in my life anymore.
    This is a beautiful tribute, Karen.

  5. Kay, Again, I am so sorry for the loss of your mother-in-law.
    I too was blessed with a wonderful mother-in-law. I got word my mother was dying as I was heading home from 3 years in the Peace Corps. It was totally unexpected and heartbreaking. She was only 47. Three months later I met my future mother-in-law. My husband, John, and I knew each other in high school – not sweethearts, just friends. His father dies at 46 when we were juniors.
    She was protective of the oldest of her 2 sons. As a mother of three adult children, 2 married, something I can now understand. I stayed with her for three months when John was sent to Vietnam. We got to know each other while I got ready for the wedding. I became the daughter she never had and she became the mother of the bride as well as the groom. She helped me select my wedding dress and make my attendants’ dresses. I stayed with her again almost 2 years later with our 3 month old daughter, when John was sent back to Vietnam. Again, I stayed 3 months.
    She always made an effort not to interfere and managed very well. I have thought of her and bitten my tongue many times since I became a mother-in-law. I am learning just how hard that is. She was a generous, loving, wonderful person, loved by everyone.
    She survived cancer twice. She developed Alzheimer’s. It was a heartbreaking 5 years as we watched the wonderful person we loved slowly disappeared. We spent the last night with her. We held her hand and talked through the night about all that she had been in our lives. She could not speak, but there were times when tears filled her eyes and we are certain she was understanding what we said. When she stopped breathing, we knew she was at peace and in a much better place.
    We are lucky to have our mothers, and I was fortunate to have two wonderful ones. The best gift she ever gave me was her son and the man he is, her greatest legacy.
    I know you and your husband will cherish her memory. She will always be with you in who you husband is and all the wonderful memories you share of her. Time may heal, but it doesn’t lessen how much we miss them or love them. She will always be with with you in the best of ways.

  6. oh kay–my sympathy and hugs go out to you. you not only had to lose one mother, but two.
    I’m so happy you were able to be there with her when she passed over-I know she knew you were there too….perhaps it’s the reason she was able to go.
    My aunt also passed away last year after chemo wore her down and her body couldn’t fight off an infection…but, you can’t go back–only take that knowledge and move forward.
    thank you for sharing such lovely pictures. it’s obvious you all loved each other very much. you could see in her eyes that she had a beautiful soul. your post was a wonderful tribute!
    my biggest loss has been my best friend, the first dog i rescued. people will pooh-pooh the pain because he was a dog–but he was more than that to me–he was honestly my soul mate. i lost him 4 years ago and the pain of his passing still rips at my heart.
    time has allowed the happy memories to dry my tears and sometimes he still comes to me in my dreams. i know someday our souls will be re-united–how could they not?

    So I wish you and your husband comfort Kay. It sounds like your Mother in law lived a full beautiful life, touching hearts around her. Though she is gone from your arms, never your heart.

    I take comfort in the line–“Though we sadly say goodbye to those we love, there are others in a far more beautiful place waiting to say hello.”
    I’m not sure who wrote it…so I can’t give credit.

  7. Kay, my heart goes out to you and your husband. A sudden death leaves us feeling like a boat without an anchor. May God bless and keep you, dear Filly sister.

  8. Hello Kathleen,

    Unfortunately, my parents had me late in life and so I didn’t really get to know my grandparents on either side of my family. I think it’s wonderful that you had her there for you. 🙂

    Thanks for your comment.

  9. Good morning, Virgina,

    It’s wonderful to hear from you and thank you for telling me about these specials people in your life…and a loss of two people in the same week would certainly have a toll.

    Thanks for your thoughts and words of comfort also, Virginia. 🙂

  10. Hello Sharon,

    Thanks for your words of wisdom and for sharing with me the person that helped you so much in your life. Yes, it was a hard thing to do, but it is the least we can do to show our love and respect for those we love most. It’s good that you were there for him.

    We come into this world with love, and it’s a good thing to leave this world with love, also. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Good morning, Patricia,

    I loved reading this post on your mother and your mother in law. What a beautiful person she must have been. You put into words again the respect and love that I have for this wonderful person.

    You are right, however. She taught me much about being a mother-in-law. I’m so glad that I had her for these past 14 years. I know I’m better because of her.

  12. Good morning, Tabitha,

    Thank you for your words of comfort. What a beautiful passage. It does echo my sentiment.

    I can understand how close one can be to one’s pets. We have many — 2 dogs and cats. One of those cats was with me in Florida when I was gone from home for a year and a half. He and I are extremely close because of that.

    So I truly do understand. There are those who touch our lives so greatly. And they touch us with love, not pain or threats. Thank goodness ofr these beautiful spirits.

  13. Dear Kay, I’m full of tears right now. Your tribute is so touching. I have a good mother in law also who does not interfere, but I think the person who touched me the most in my life is my grandma. She was so unselfish, wise, thoughful, and loved unconditionally. She died just as I got pregnant with my son and I always believe she picked him out in heaven and sent him to me. Silly, but comforts me.

    Here are hugs and prayers again and always, dear friend. oxoxoxoxoxox

  14. Sorry for your loss… many warm wishes sent your way… keep the happy memories alive… that is what I do with my grandmother… lost her years ago and still miss her greatly, but when I think of the memories I keep a smile on my face! 😀

  15. Hello my friend,
    I had to tell you what a beautiful tribute this is that you have written for your mother-in-law. Very very touching. I lost my mother in law 8 years ago, but she wasn’t herself for several years prior to that. She was a “country woman” from the “holler” in West Virginia, and she was very very dear to me. One of my dearest memories of her was this: In the early 80’s when Kenny Rogers was so well-known, he came to Charleston (we didn’t get a lot of “big names” there, but he came and tickets sold like wildfire.) I wanted to go sooo much, but my husband didn’t want to. My MIL said, “If you’ll go with me to see Ernest Tubb and Bill Monroe, I’ll go with you to see Kenny Rogers.” IT WAS A DEAL! We had the best time, and then about a month later, I went with her to see Ernest Tubb and Bill Monroe, and I will never forget the enjoyment she got from that concert. I was so glad I went with her. When we were leaving after it was over, she said, “You are the only one that would ever think of going with me to this–even my own kids wouldn’t want to.” LOL I know you have a lot of joyful memories of your MIL, too, Kay, and I want you to know I’m thinking of you and your family.

    Hugs to you, and much love,

  16. Thanks for your words of wisdom and comfort, Tanya. Like I said above, my parents had me late in life, so I never really knew my grandparents — and they are so important in our lives. Thanks again.

  17. Hello dear Cheryl!

    What a wonderful post to leave. Thanks for telling me this story. It touched me very much. One of the best memories I have of Joyce is a practical joke my husband and I played on our daughter and her new boyfriend. She asked us to be sure to treat her new boyfriend really really well (like we wouldn’t have done that).

    So we all dressed up in evening clothes. My brother in law acted as the butler and my husband and I dressed in our evening best. I’ll never forget Joyce, who dressed up as our maid and cook — she even made a maid hat and apron for the occasion.

    We all got a big laugh out of it, but my daughter remembers Joyce the most — who got in on the gag — and even made the outfit. 🙂

  18. You were truly blessed in having such a wonderful
    mother-in-law! I was fortunate in having a mother
    and mother-in-law who were blessings to our families. Whenever we needed them they were always
    available to us. Despite their own loss, they were
    great support for the family when we lost both our
    fathers within six months of each other.

    God bless all of you and keep you close!

    Pat Cochran

  19. Kay,
    What a great story!!! I love it that your MIL played the part of the maid and made her own outfit. I bet she was chortling the whole time she was sewing on that costume for the “big night.” LOL What a great memory!

  20. Karen,
    It’s less than a year since I lost my mil and became an mil myself. Losing is mine was hard and finding the right way to love my new daughter is too.
    Hugs to you and your family.

  21. Hi Kay, It’s always hard to say goodbye to someone we’ve loved. It’s especially hard when they’ve loved us back as thoroughly as Joyce loved you and your husband. She sounds like a wonderful lady. I’m going to be a mother-in-law for the first time in October. Joyce’s life is a wonderful example to follow.

  22. Thanks for your post, Lyn. It is very difficult to lose those we are close to, that’s for certain. And it does seem to take a bit of work to be a good MIL in our own turn. 🙂

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