“MY MOTHER-IN-LAW IS ABSENT”
by Rick Jones, Son-in-Law of the Mother of the Minister's Wife
My mother-in-law passed away. Lois and I were discussing epitaphs . . .
That's not the opening to a bad joke. Lois's mother passed away on the morning of Friday, October 23rd. Ironically, that same morning I was telling Lois about some epitaphs I'd read while preparing for what I intended to be this edition of “Incessant Divagation”. That article will be out next Tuesday. This one is out early, as we're preparing for a 500 mile trip to attend a funeral.
When I heard the voice of Lois's brother on the phone, asking to speak with his sister, I had a premonition. I'm not a man who puts much credence in stories of psychic impressions, but as I gave the phone to Lois I felt certain that her mother had died. I was right. People who know much about me know that I enjoy being right – but there was no pleasure in it this time. I'm grateful to God that I was home and could be with Lois when she heard the news.
Patricia Wing was born Patricia Fairfield on June 12, 1926, in Cuba, New York. Her obituary tells me she enjoyed gardening, needlepoint, church functions and eating out. I didn't know much about her. Yes, I learned a significant amount of biographical information over the years as Lois spoke of her mother, but we didn't have much personal interaction. I do know that she approved of me before Lois and I became married. I joked that this proved she was a very wise and perceptive woman. Seriously, I'm not sure why she gave Lois a “favorable review” but I truly believe that if she had not, Lois would not have accepted my marriage proposal. Lois valued her mother's opinion. That makes Lois perceptive.
I'm not in a mood to share funny stories about my mother-in-law. I do want to share that she took her relationship with God – her “religion”, and she wasn't ashamed to be identified as a “religious” person – very seriously. That doesn't mean that she was harsh with people who didn't think or act like she did. She was very strict with herself, and her love of God inspired her to forgive and help people around her, whether or not they lived by her standards. She was one of those people who, when she said she'd pray for you, was making a commitment, not tossing out a quickly forgotten platitude. And if you knew she was praying, you felt like something significant was taking place on your behalf.
Eighty-nine years of life gave her plenty of opportunity to compare events in her life with principles she studied from the Bible. She grew strong in her faith, seeing personally that God had spoken truth and fulfilled His promises.
Now that she has died, I believe she is experiencing a condition Paul wrote about: that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I'm sure she's having a wonderful time, and while we miss her, my personal opinion is that given her circumstances, she has better things to do than miss us. She had some rough times in her life, and the last couple of years were not pleasant, but those troubles are now far outweighed by the blessings of her current surroundings.