I married twice but got only one mother-in-law.
I quit her son but kept her. She was the only woman I ever called ‘Mama’.
She was a feminist before that was a thing. She survived the holocaust and only reached full awareness of this fact as an adult.
A prickly personality she could put you in your place and make it sting. But she never did this to me. I was like a favored child who could do no wrong.
When it was time to leave her son she spoke her solidarity: “No one understands better than I that you need to do this.”
I always loved her for that.
And her son and I stayed friends and raised our son together apart.
When I remarried, she attended my wedding and even had a dance with my widowed new father-in-law. Jigsaw families are my specialty it seems.
When my second child was born she showered him with affection. He is the only Omi he has ever had.
She was a writer, a journalist and activist. Not a day went by that she did not read and respond to the news. Fierce and opinionated, she could argue you down through dinner and invite you to tea the next day.
I wrote some poems and shared them with her. She kept them close and read them aloud to me. She insisted that I make something of them.
The poems became a skinny little book which I dedicated to her. This is one thing I am proud of.
Now she is gone. Passed on into the next life or non-life. We don’t know.
I will know her memory, remember her affection, carry small pieces of her legacy forward.
My only mother-in-law, Mama.