When a guy considers marrying, he's not sure how he'll stand with the mother and father of his bride to be. I considered it, but it wasn't long into dating Gina that I realized I was loved by Mrs. Hale. The in-law part gets stuck in my throat because Mrs. Hale is a second mom.
When I started dating Gina, her mother took me right into her wings. Most nights at the end of a date, I'd usually end up in their den talking with Mrs. Hale. Gina would usually go to bed at nine or nine-thirty and Mrs. Hale was a night owl like me. We'd get into long conversations.
At the time she was still reeling from a divorce. I felt my listening to her gave her a sounding board. If memory serves, that's what most of those late night conversations were about. Nevertheless, Mrs. Hale has never been a downer. She never wanted to be a burden, and never has been a burden. As long as I've known her, she's always made the best of even the worst situations, always tried to be joyful in all circumstances. Mrs. Hale is the kind of gal that's great to have around. How many mother in-laws would you want to take on a vacation? Mrs. Hale is always easy going and always part of the merriment.
She couldn't wait for us to give her grand children. I think she was getting doubtful that we were going to have children. We didn't have Katie until the sixth year of our marriage. When we did start having children, she showered them with so much love. There's one thing that makes it harder to call someone an 'in-law' is when they love your children so much. Betty Hales is more than just my mother in-law, she's more than just my wife's mother and my children's grandmother. To use the word in-law doesn't define my relationship to her. Down through the years, she's become my other mother.
Seeing her small unconscious form in the ICU is unsettling. She's trying to recover from surgery through infection and pneumonia. Her blood pressure is erratic. Beneath the tubes and cords, she looks so weak, as if she's fading. Her future is uncertain. At this moment, things can go either way. We are all hoping and praying for her. I am I recounting the good times, and how she has enriched all the lives of those around her. She has enriched my life. She loved her in-law son as her son. She opened her heart to me.
Get well Betty.