Below is a picture of my mother-in-law who passed away this past Thursday (May 30th), her obituary and a copy of the eulogy I gave at her funeral ceremony. While all this doesn't say it all about Mary, it will give you an idea about who she was.
|Mary and my daughter Mira|
|Mary's Obituary in the Terre Haute Paper|
Most of you gathered here this afternoon knew Mary longer than I did, and I would guess that each of your relationships with her was a bit different, and I would be very much surprised if your observations and remembrances didn’t vary at least a little from mine.
Some of you knew her as mother, grandmother, cousin, aunt or friend. I knew Mary as my mother-in-law. Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard the commentaries and jokes about how difficult it is to get along with a mother-in-law. Well, Mary wasn’t perfect, and I’ll touch more on that in a little bit, but as far as mother-in-laws go, I got lucky. She wasn’t demanding, or biting in her criticism. She would always say that she was glad that Kathy married me, and that Frank would’ve liked me. And I would’ve liked him too, she’d add. And she said it often. And I am guessing that everyone here knows Mary liked to repeat things, especially stories about her family and childhood.
I’d heard many of her stories a hundred times at least. For example, ones about her dad, Joe McCombs, who decided one day he wanted to be an auto mechanic and took up with it, or wiring houses, or how he was pivotal in getting votes for local politicians, or his storytelling ability—changing each telling just a bit each time to keep everyone interested, and how that skill got him started in Vaudeville.
But she also liked to talk to me about people I knew—those still around. I spent more than a few hours in her company, talking with her, sometimes only listening—especially when she didn’t have her hearing aids turned on, or the batteries were dead—driving Mary to our house for Thanksgiving and then back to Terre Haute on Saturday or Sunday. And sometimes I drove out to visit her for an hour or so in the nursing home.
By the way, did you know Mary was a closet Roger Zelazny fan? Yes, she liked to read romance novels, but she also liked listening to the Chronicles of Amber. On our road trips she’d talk a bit, and then ask me to put in the story and we’d listen, and sometimes talk about it.
Anyway, I heard many times about her brother Joseph or sister Dorothy, or some of her days in school, but she also talked about my wife Kathy, how she was proud of her graduating from college and getting a really good job and was a good mother. And she talked about Linda being a chemist with Coca Cola, and she’d say that she was glad Sherry found good job. She’d mention Ron, and how he seemed right for Linda and made her happy, and that Sherry found Bob, and he worked hard for the paper.
She’d talk about Neil and his artistic ability, and Collin going to school, but not sure what he wanted to do, or maybe he did and she just didn’t know. She’d talk about Genevieve, how pretty and smart she was. And how loving Mira was with hugs and always happy. She’d talk about Michael, and how he did well in the ROTC and looked good, pictured in a uniform. And she’d talk about Andrew, and how he was a good boy and she knew he’d become a good man.
She talked about Theresa. Mary worried over Theresa’s health, even when her own was failing. When I’d visit with her some nights at the nursing home, before leaving, I’d ask her if she was okay. She’d nod and mention that Loretta was going to be there tomorrow.
But Mary worried about her girls. That she didn’t do all she could have, and she wanted them to be happy. I told her nobody was perfect. And once, when I was telling her about my work, she reminded me that nobody’s perfect and grinned.
We also talked about why she was still around, and we discussed what purpose God had for her. I told her I thought she was where the Lord wanted her to be. When she was able, she’d try to help out, talk to others staying at the nursing home, and comfort them. I am sure she shared her stories with a lot of folks, keeping them company in a place that could be quite lonely.
And, as I think about it, and about all the stories Mary used to tell me, and tell, and tell again. Like me, I’m guessing all of you would be more than willing to drive an eight hour round trip to hear Mary, in good health, tell just one of those stories again. I’d guess an eighty or more hour trip wouldn’t be out of the question.
But you know what? I’m already on a trip, just like Mary was. And at the end of my life trip, I’ll get to hear Mary tell her stories again—all of them again. But you know what else? She won’t have to, because right there next to her will be her husband, Frank, and her father Joe and her sister Dorothy, and Olive, and everyone that she talked about but that I’d never met. Because we’ll see Mary, all of us, one day in Heaven. And that’s something to look forward to.