“But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” Ruth 1:16-17 (NLT)

Today a friend on facebook posted something about mother-in-laws. She went on to say that she loved her mother in law and considered her a friend.

This prompted me to think of my mother-in-law. Dale and I dated for three years, and were engaged for eleven more months before getting married. So, we have been together a long time.

At first, his mother was not too fond of me. We always say that was because I was a ‘city’ girl and Dale was a country boy she had her doubts. I know that really made no difference to his mom, but we tried to figure out why I was not liked right away.

Time did improve our relationship and by time that engagement ring was slipped onto my finger his Mom and I were friends. We were young when we got engaged. Young when we married. Yet, this woman accepted me and loved me.

Since she had no daughter and I had no mother, I invited her to be with me on many of the plans for our wedding. She actually picked out my wedding gown, which makes it even more special to me.

Through the years we laughed often. Got in trouble with our husbands a lot. Got lost together as neither of us has/had a keen sense of direction.

My memories of her are rich. I miss her mirthful laughter, it was almost musical. Her tenderness toward the Lord spoke volumes to me. She could not pray or talk about God without tears streaming down her cheeks.

I have often said I had three mothers growing up. My own Mother who brought me into the world and taught me the foundations of life. My older sister who guided me through my teen years (I personally think she had the hardest shift) and my mother in law who taught me how to be a wife and mother. My life is full and complete from these three women.

The verse above is how I felt about my mother in law. She was my own personal Naomi. Most women are blessed to have one mother who has nurtured and guided them, I had three.

The day after Dale and I married, we stopped to pick up our rental truck filled with my belongings and our wedding gifts. As we walked into her kitchen, she asked me to go to the basement with her. She had canned and made jam for us the previous fall and needed help carrying things upstairs. When we were alone in the basement, I hesitantly asked what I should call her as, up until that time she was Mrs.Thomas. Since we were both now Mrs. Thomas, I knew I could not continue to call her that. She looked at me, and said, “you can call me Marietta, or Etta, or (and she paused) you could call me Mom.” It had been almost 9 years since I had called anyone that name. I looked at her and said, “Okay, Mom.”

As we hugged good-bye to leave for our new life in Virginia, she squeezed me extra hard and that mother-daughter bond was formed.

It has been over thirty years since she passed, but today thoughts of her have flooded my mind. My life has been enriched by the woman who gave me her son.

My Three Mothers

“Direct your children onto the right path,
    and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

Most people have one mother. I was blessed to have three women whom I consider a mother to me.

The first, Elizabeth, gave birth to me. She taught me how to walk, eat, when to sleep, talk. She gave me life and I like to think my sense of humor. She would talk with me while sitting on our porch, she encouraged me to write. She truly gave me roots and wings. She moved to heaven when I was eleven. She established me in this world.

My second mother was really my older sister, Dottie. She was fifteen when our mother passed away. Her childhood was cut short. She became the mother figure to both myself and my younger sister. She guided me through my teen years, giving me insight and ideas. We didn’t always see eye to eye, and I often wonder if my mother had survived cancer, if we would have gotten along. Maybe it was my obstinate ways that caused conflict. Dottie was there for me in heartbreaks and victories in school and she cheered me on the days that looked bleak. I would not have had the experiences I did in high school had it not been for her.

I married young. When I first started dating Dale, his mother did not like me. She made that fact well known. Eventually, though, we both softened in our approach to each other. She didn’t have a daughter and I didn’t have a Mom, so together we planned our wedding, giving her the experience of a daughter and me having a Mom to share the excitement with.

My mother-in-law, Marietta, became a Naomi to my Ruth. “But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” Ruth 1:16 (NLT) When she moved to heaven, grief for her was what I experienced as an eleven year old.

I have been fortunate to have the love and encouragement of three beautiful women in my life. They have taught me to grow, to learn, to accept and respect. I thank my Lord for each of them.