Norma-Jean, My Mother-in-Law
May 9th, 2012 | By admin | Category: Heart to Heart, Relationships
By Carol Doyel –
Okay, Marilyn Monroe was not my mother-in-law, but my mother-in-law’s name is Norma Jean. However, she goes by Norma. In looking back over the years of my relationship with Norma, there were times that it was obvious that we were not made out of the same fabric. We have different personalities and different political views, I might add. I can vividly remember her speaking harshly to me once when I shared my opinion about something that was really none of my business, but as a younger woman I sometimes opened my mouth when I should have kept it shut. And the time that she gave me a needle point wall plaque that read, “A Clean Home is a Sign of Boredom”, my home was always clean.
In honor of Mother’s Day and Norma, I want her to know how much she means to me and how much of a mother figure she has become in my life. My own mother died before her 50th birthday, and I became the matriarch of my immediate family as the eldest daughter with a sister who was 7 years younger and a brother 11 years younger. Norma also lost her mother when she was a young woman.
Norma possesses the qualities that make moms so special. She filled holidays with traditions and great food, she always remembered birthdays and sent cards, she worked tirelessly to make the lives of others better and to keep her home in order, maybe not the cleanest, but it felt like home and she always had a project going on. She planted gardens when her children were young, she was the Brownie, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts house-mother, she attended community programs, took her kids to plays, became a caregiver for her elderly father when her own children were still living at home, all while working full time for more than 30 years and raising 4 kids. She had to get up at dawn to leave in time to drive 30 miles each way to work, and stood strong when her husband went off to Vietnam and Korea, which led to challenges in their marriage and family life. Yet she stayed by her husband’s side and took care of him at the end of his life due to lifestyle choices that led to nearly full time bed-rest for a number of years, leaving Norma-Jean, as he often referred to her when calling for her, serving and waiting on him. Albeit there were times that she complained, never the less, she finished strong. Chuck, bless his heart, passed away in 2001.
Norma experienced grief as expected, having been married to Chuck for almost 50 years. But over time she began reclaiming her life and her interests, she started traveling in her RV and even joined an RV’ing group, “Loner’s on Wheels”. She’s traveled to Alaska, cross country from Washington to the east coast, to Mexico, has made numerous trips to Yuma, AZ as a snowbird to hang out with friends in the winter months and more recently to stay at the side of a friend that needed her for nearly 5 months. She’s traveled over mountains and passes to visit an old friend, she often drops in to visit family members while traveling up and down the western United States to pay her respects, and she always finds time to visit her adult kids and grand kids.
Norma is pillar of strength, and although at first she may not come across as a strong or assertive woman, her character is like iron; loyal, honest, hard working, forthright, and steadfast. She’s not a quitter, she doesn’t complain about aches and pains, she doesn’t whine, and she keeps herself busy. She may not be a warm and fuzzy woman, but you know when she tells you she loves you she means it. I am grateful to have had Norma in my life all these years, she’s become the mother that I’ve missed and has taught me many things that my own mother had not. Norma, thank you for the legacy and showing me how to be a better woman, a better wife and a better mother.
Happy Mother’s Day Norma-Jean!
Carol Doyel is Editor-in-Chief and Founder of LivingBetterat50.com. She resides in New Orleans with her husband and has three grown kids and two grandchildren. Her desire is to inspire others, especially women 50+ to live healthier, more active and fulfilling lives.