Remembering My Mother-in-Law

By Sandi Schmidt (Bubbles) on May 19, 2010

This is a short story about one of my amusing interactions with my mother-in-law that I lived to tell about.....

We are getting ready to attend a family memorial service for my mother-in-law who died last Thanksgiving at the age of 100. She was widowed at 60 and then had to learn to drive a car, balance a checkbook, and take care of all the household duties her husband had always handled. She not only learned to drive, but decided to take up golf and bowling. Until she was 97, she played Euchre with seven other ladies every Friday afternoon. She played bridge every other week. When her bridge group disbanded because one member “couldn’t remember her cards” she subbed in to another bridge group, taking the place of her own deceased daughter.

She was strong willed and feisty. In her 70s, after living alone for years, she was mugged in her own driveway. The thief grabbed her purse, knocking her to the ground. She jumped up and chased him down the street as far as she could. The family then decided that she should sell the house and move to a place where she’d be safer.

This is a short story about one of my amusing interactions with my mother-in-law that I lived to tell about.....

We moved into this house nearly 30 years ago. Ours was the first occupied home on the hilltop in a little country club community. My mother-in-law, from Illinois, came to visit soon after. ...She was a no-nonsense German woman. We took her to all the local tourist spots on a balmy spring day. Returning home tired, it was time for naps and showers before leaving again for dinner. I ran upstairs... removed my contacts and clothes, and was about to enter the shower. That's when I spied what looked like a leather ribbon my daughter must have left on the floor of the bathroom. I can’t see anything without my contacts. As I blindly stooped to pick it up, it began to undulate and move along the wall...and I screamed bloody murder! I jumped in the shower, glass door pulled tight, and screamed for my husband. Well, he was "napping" downstairs. It was spring, the air conditioning was on, and no one downstairs could hear me. I finally got up the courage to stick my hands out the shower door, opened the little adjacent window and yelled, but all the windows downstairs were closed and the air conditioners drowned me out. There were no neighbors yet to hear me either. I decided to jump out the back of the shower, stuff a towel under the door, and scream at the top of my lungs from the upstairs landing.

Wrapped only in a half-folded robe, I yelled as loudly as I could from the top of the stairs..."snake, snake, snake.“ Did I mention the part about the no-nonsense German woman? She hit the bottom of the stairs with her little short arms on her hips and hissed..."Everyone's asleep. What the devil are you yelling for?" And putting my entire marriage in jeopardy, I screamed at her, " I have a %&^$#^^%^& snake in my bathroom! How 'bout that?" Without another word, she turned and stormed down the hall, woke my husband...her son...who was also a Yankee... and told him I was screaming something about a snake. He came a-runnin... I’m still not sure if it was because of the snake...or figuring he was going to have to run interference between his mom and wife.

While the rest of us stayed downstairs, he ran up...and then down ...incredibly, with just a paper bag!!!! Past us and outside, he then returned and announced it WAS a snake, but he had let it go in the street! What? I don’t believe I was alone that afternoon in wanting that snake dead instead. "Well..., excuse me...," I said. “I heard they run in pairs! I'm not sleeping up there until you find the other one!!!!!" I think his mother would have taken the next flight out of town if not for the expense of changing her reservations.

Incidentally, it took my daughter's second grade teacher to convince me to sleep upstairs again. She claimed it was a cedar racer that got in because I left my upstairs deck door open while I watered my new petunias. She retired that year, and I still have that niggling feeling that my husband paid her off to tell me that so I'd sleep upstairs again... We don't have cedar racers...

And during that same visit, a few days later, my mother-in-law cat napped one morning on a recliner out back under a sprawling oak tree. I heard her yelling and as I was running outside, it did cross my mind that she might have found the “other snake.” She was up and dancing, slapping herself, and spouting some words you just don’t expect a grandmother to use. As I got closer, I realized she had inch worms from the oak tree on her clothes and in her snow white hair and she was mad! For the second time in a few days, she swore she’d never come to Texas again. As I picked those squishy little buggers off her clothes and out of her hair, I had a hard time keeping a straight face. I knew this was going to be a great story to tell the next time we got together with our friends.

Of course, she did come many more times to Texas until the trip was too much for her. And I drove my husband’s truck up there one spring for a few days and wound up staying a month painting her house, inside and out; replacing the stairs on her deck, changing out the porch light fixture, and more. We would sit up till midnight, with her telling me stories of her growing up in Dubuque and spending childhood summers at their cottage on the Mississippi. Some of her happiest memories were those days on the river.

We’re going back next week to find the place on the river where the cottage once stood and scatter her ashes in the Mighty Mississippi that she so loved. I’m going to miss her.

Related articles:
funny, funny mother-in-law story, funny Texas snake story, memorial, mother-in-law, snake

About Sandi Schmidt
After taking the Master Gardener classes in 2001, I removed half the St Augustine in the front yard and planted beds of deer-resistant perennials. The same approach to the backyard was not as satisfying. Missing the semi-tropicals of the MS Gulf Coast and the tropicals of our years in Hawaii, we added a pond, some small palms, and a few flowering tropicals. I started reading, collecting, and experimenting. After completing the two year course series for Landscape Design Study at Texas A&M, I joined a few garden clubs including the Garden Club of Austin, Violet Crown, and the National Garden Club. Our garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat. We also have a rainwater harvesting system...for all those tropicals!

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Great story medinac May 22, 2010 1:10 PM 8
Wonderful! plantladylin May 19, 2010 8:00 AM 2
I loved it~ nap May 18, 2010 11:03 PM 2
Hilarious Hemophobic May 18, 2010 7:56 PM 1

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