Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blessing-in-law

There are many things you consider when choosing a spouse: personality, physical attraction, religious beliefs, life goals, and overall compatibility, just to name a few.

And then there's the inlaws. Most of us have heard the old saying,
"You're not only marrying him, you're marrying his whole family."
This is usually said as a warning. As in, be willing to welcome (or at least tolerate) all the baggage your future inlaws will bring. Like the uncle with no concept of personal space or the sister who gives backhanded compliments. [Not my personal experience, just random examples.]

For better or for worse, when you marry someone, you are saying "I do" to the whole inlaw enchilada.

Chris and his dad on our wedding day.

So naturally while dating, Chris and I talked about this...knowing that neither of our families were perfect and there were prickly areas on both sides that would require acceptance.

Now, five and a half years after making my vows, I believe that "warning" was less a word of caution and more a word of encouragement. For any inlaw baggage I've dealt with has truly paled in comparison to the blessings I've enjoyed.

I could write an impressive list of all the ways Chris' parents have blessed us over the years. But none have touched my heart more deeply than the acts of love and service they have shown me following my father's passing. 

As soon as they heard the news, my father-in-law was on his way to pick up Noah so I wouldn't have to run after a two-year-old while the shock and pain of my dad's death was so raw. Taking Noah gave me space to grieve and Chris the freedom to support me, as well as the time we needed to focus on all the immediate tasks of planning the funeral. They are the best grandparents in the world and I was so blessed to know that my son was in their fun, safe, loving care.

The blessings continued when my mother-in-law told me she was going to complete my work for the month to my credit. (I'm a part-time, independent contractor for the company she works for full time.) This meant that I didn't have to attempt to concentrate on work in the midst of my sorrow or worry about not fulfilling my professional obligation or suffering financially.

Three days later they brought Noah home with his backpack full of clean clothes and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. They offered their continued help and support. Watch the boys during the funeral. Make food for the reception. Whatever we needed, they were there.

They came over early the following Saturday to clean my house. I needed a clean house. I also needed fresh air. So while I took the boys for a long walk, Chris and his parents vacuumed and dusted and scrubbed. I was humbled. And so very grateful.

The next weekend they were back. We were having a huge garage sale for all of my dad's things. As the sun began to rise, my father-in-law helped Chris set up tables and carry furniture out of the garage. My mother-in-law stayed inside with me and the boys...I couldn't handle haggling with strangers over the price of my dad's books or sweaters. When I was ready, she went on a walk with me and the kids and later picked up lunch for us all. They helped pack up all the unsold items and took as many bags as their Honda would hold to the Goodwill.

So many tangible acts of love.
So many selfless acts of service.
(Now I know where their incredible son gets it from!)

Pat and Lelia, the word inlaw no longer fits.
You are my family. My second mom and dad.

My blessing.


(Note: Lelia hates pictures of herself, which is why I'm "blessing" her by not including one.)

3 comments:

Robin Fritz said...

Becky these were wonderful words to say about Pat & Lelia and in-laws in general. Thanks for sharing.

Susan Bozarth said...

A great tribute to two special people. Lelia and Patrick are the best brother and sister-in-law a sister could ever ask for!!! They are also truly blessed to have such a great daughter-in-law as you are to them Becky. You make it easy for them to love you! So sorry for the loss of your father but you know that he has now touched the face of God and is in his loving arms forever! All my love to your family!

The Fredricksons said...

WOW....they are incredible! Tears.