“I pray she is somewhere happy,

watching over and guiding our lives”

Dear Miriam,

I read with interest and recognition the beautiful letter written by those daughters-in-law to their mother-in-law.

A very similar letter could have been penned by myself two and a half years ago. I then also enjoyed a good relationship with my mother-in-law who, like the woman referred to in last week’s letter, was a good, kind, caring person, interested in people and a good mother and grandmother.

She died peacefully amongst her family and old friends in 2015, also after a battle with cancer.

Our children say they remember the time they hugged her goodbye. I recall her making jigsaws with our children. She had worked as a primary school teacher before she retired. She had a good, patient way with children and never babied them, which I think they appreciated. She used to suggest that they start the jigsaw with the corners. It’s strange what a person remembers.

My mother-in-law was a good listener and good listeners are, in my view, becoming almost endangered. In a world of Tweeting and Facebooking, she was able to sit quietly and listen to others.

There were many days when I had interesting conversations with her, ranging from anything such as current affairs to her life as a child on their farm in Waterford. One of her jobs as a child was looking after the poultry. She told me how she fed them and gathered them in at night to protect them from the foxes. It made me realise how a little responsibility for a child is a good thing, simply to demonstrate to them that they are trusted.

I learned a lot from my mother-in-law and am grateful. I am like the daughters-in-law of the recent letter, grateful for the husband and children I have because of her.

I believe she knew she was loved. She, too, was a fan of the Irish Farmers Journal and read it weekly. The paper was often folded open on the crossword page with it semi-completed and sometimes clues would be read out by her to see if anyone knew the answer.

She was invaluable to my husband and his sisters. Like a lot of mothers, she was the thread that held the family together, especially after the death of her own husband five years previously.

My husband, who is farming, had a very close relationship with her. She was not only his mother, but also his adviser and business partner on the farm.

She breakfasted with him every morning in the home place after he returned in from milking. And so, with her went not alone a mother but a wealth of agricultural experience – which he was able to draw on – and also a friend.

The loss was immense for all of us as we knew it would be, but time heals and though that emptiness is still there, we have seemed to become less aware of it with the passage of time.

By supporting and listening to each other and establishing a new daily routine, our lives, as was necessary and natural, have moved on. At night when saying the prayers with the children, their grandparents are always mentioned.

My mother-in-law enjoyed nature and used to remark on the swallows’ arrival and departure. At this time of year, as I see them gather and fly low, I think of her and pray that she is somewhere happy, watching over and guiding our lives, like she always used to.

Yours sincerely,

An empathic reader.

“I hope she shines down

on you every single day”

Dear Miriam,

It’s great reading such a lovely letter the two girls wrote regarding their mother-in-law.

I say this respectfully: it made my day reading it.

Thank you girls for your lovely letter and I hope your mother-in-law will help you through life as she shines down on you every single day.

Western Reader CL