We all get off our game sometimes and down on our luck but my
I remember, at a bonfire we had by the lake, when my hubby and I were showing his parents my family's cottage in Northern Michigan. Dennis...being well.. Dennis... told his very Italian mother that I had made spaghetti and meat sauce with turkey meat. Elaine practically jumped the fire pit to berate me for using turkey. "No upstanding Sicilian would use turkey in their meat sauce!! What are you doing to my boy!??" She barked at me. As I look to Dennis in fear, hoping he'll stand up for me, I see him and his father practically falling out of their chairs in laughter at this tiny 4'11" spitfire her son had provoked. I barely could squeak out that I was trying to be healthy, my own parents sat stone faced at the faux-pas I had made. They knew she meant business. She sat back down in her chair, while uneasiness hung thick like the smoke from the campfire. Her face softened and she looked at me with the same look she gave me right before we left her for the last time ...like I was her own. Then she looked at the two jokers making fools of themselves howling on the other side of the fire.
She laughed and took a big draw off her smoke. "Hell, you wanted to eat healthy, should have started that way before now... look how much weight my Dennis has put on?!"
Instantly the tension left the air and the focus went off of me and back on my husband where it was rightfully deserved. Moments like that perhaps, few and far between, made me know I was hers. I might be her daughter in law, but when we were together, she never treated me like anything but hers. I always felt like her daughter and never like her daughter in law.
I wasn't alone in that feeling, everyone who was on her good side was like family. She protects us all the same, like a bear who's been backed into a corner. But she'd step away in heart beat and let the wolves take you down if you piss her off. Wording is very important when talking to Elaine, sometimes you never know what would set her off...made it part of the fun! She was like an attack dog on your leash, say one wrong word and you can't control her, just had to let her go and watch with partial terror and partial hilarity for her next move.
We are blessed with amazing people in our lives and sometimes, if you don't pay attention, you miss all the good stuff. You just take all the bad and push it in front of the light at the end of the tunnel so all you see is blackness and uncertainty. I can tell you that Elaine, my mother in law, has a unique, bright beautiful light that could so easily be taken for granted. There's no one like her, she's one in a million and her light is too brilliant for this Earth. Soon Jesus will take his child up to heaven and we'll only have beautiful and heart breaking memories of her. So now after all this reflection, I understand why Danielle came to mind. A life cut tragically too short and one well lived. Both with so much more to give but their bodies here on earth have had enough. I'll always think of Danielle before anyone else when I hear Patsy Cline. I'll always think of Elaine, my mother in law who took me in as one of her own...well...I'll think of her every day. At Christmastime(it was her favorite), when I watch a football game(she loved her Packers and her Patriots), when I hear a thick Bostonian accent(no one had a better accent than her), and especially when i'm making turkey sauce for dinner.