The Adventure of Writing a Book, Part 44

The Adventure of Writing a Book, Part 44

Mother’s Day Tribute to My Mother-in-law

One of the best things in my life was the pure fortune of having a fabulous mother-in-law.
Her name was Ruth Irene Bonstein (known as Irene), a terrific woman in many, many ways.

First of all, she loved and accepted me from the start. Here I was, a chicken farmer’s daughter from rural Maryland. My parents were immigrants from Finland. I had met her son on a blind date at Syracuse University.

My husband’s family traced their family line back to a couple of Hessian brothers who came over and fought in the Revolutionary War. My father-in-law had a great job with Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, covering the whole east coast heavy equipment sales. Irene played the piano beautifully, everything from Beethoven to the 12th Street Rag. She could read music and also play by ear. I had had music lessons and this gift was amazing to me. I once asked her how she did it. “Oh, I hear the tune and it somehow comes out through my fingers,” she said modestly.

Despite the differences in our family backgrounds, she welcomed me with open arms and we became good friends as well as in-laws.

Holidays and family gatherings were fun. She played the piano and we had loud noisy sing-a-longs. You could hum a tune and she would pick it up and play along. Irene had special recipes that were devoured by the grandchildren. I have most of them in my personal cooking file.

Best of all, she was a lot of fun, loving jokes and telling them. Regaling us with stories of past family adventures and poignant moments.

Irene was kind and loving and I still miss her.

In fact, I wrote a humorous article for New Jersey Woman (magazine) years ago called Wives and Mothers (in law). It recounted what a curse it was to have a terrific mother-in-law. I had nothing to talk about with my friends, in fact, they had a hard time believing that I really liked and respected my mother-in-law.

So, Happy Mother’s Day to you, Irene. You were an inspiration to me. I only hope I can be half as close to my four sons-in-law.

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