My mother-in-law passed away five years ago today. It was pretty ironic that she died just two months after I started this blog so it became the first major drama that I would record in it for posterity. Her death was pretty sudden because she was relatively healthy for a woman who had just turned 77 earlier in the month until the last two weeks of her life so it was a huge shock to family and friends.
My husband and I flew to Phoenix for her funeral then returned. It was such a whirlwind of a trip that I devoted one post to it titled A Special Thank You Note Regarding the Recent Death of My Mother-In-Law.
For the next few years I would get notices from WordPress.com about how that particular post ranked among my most-read posts and the automated message even suggested that I write more about that same topic in order to increase my hit count. The only problem with that suggestion is that everything I needed to say about my mother-in-law’s death I had already written and posted online.
Well, okay, I’ll write one new tidbit. My mother-in-law was the last surviving child of Michael Somogyi, the Hungarian-born researcher who made great strides in the study of diabetes. Today many diabetics benefit from his findings. Which makes my ex-husband his grandson. For the record, I never met Michael Somogyi. He died many years before I even met my future ex-husband.
If I had taken that WordPress suggestion and continued to write about my mother-in-law’s death, I would’ve ended up doing the online blogging equivalent of flogging a dead horse. There are only so many different ways I could write about my mother-in-law’s death without this blog getting repetitive. Besides, I didn’t start this blog so I could write about nothing but dead friends and relatives.
If you really want the play-by-play regarding my mother-in-law’s sudden death, I suggest that you start with this March 21, 2010 entry, then this shorter entry on March 22, 2010, then the original death announcement on March 23, 2010. Finally there is the entry that continued to get a lot of blog hits a few years after her death.
My husband and I flew back to Phoenix just a few months after the funeral to look in on my husband’s stepfather. Not only was he reeling from my mother-in-law’s sudden death (they were married 17 years when she passed away) but he had to deal with doing the things that my mother-in-law used to do (like cooking). I remembered we showed him how to fix simple meals like browning ground beef and making hard-boiled eggs. It was quite a trip since I arrived feeling sick on the first day. I partially recovered on the second day even though I was tired. I recovered by the third day just in time for another crisis where my husband’s step-father had to go to the hospital after he fell flat on his back at the home of one of my husband’s step-brothers. He ultimately only spent a few hours at the hospital and he felt fine after that. We spent our last full day in Arizona going through my mother-in-law’s things and visiting with my husband’s other step-siblings.
Before my mother-in-law moved to Phoenix when she married her second husband, she had spent the bulk of her adult life living in the New York City metropolitan area where she made a lot of friends. Whenever she and her husband made the annual two-week visit to the East Coast, they would visit those friends whenever they arrived in New York. The one thing about having my mother-in-law’s funeral in Phoenix is the fact that many of her East Coast friends were elderly and some of them just weren’t able to make the long travel. So my husband and his sister came up with an idea of having an East Coast memorial service scheduled later in the year so those friends would have a chance to pay their last respects to her.
Except the memorial service ended up being held in Western Massachusetts (where my mother-in-law never lived) instead of New York (where she actually lived and most of her friends did as well) so that service didn’t draw a lot of people. (I wasn’t the one who came up with the idea of holding the memorial service in a place hundreds of miles from where my mother-in-law actually lived during her New York years. The memorial service’s location wasn’t my husband’s idea either, he basically went along with it. I don’t recall him protesting that decision or anything like that.) It was also difficult getting hotel reservations because it was the time of the year when people descend on the New England region to view the fall foliage.
At least I got to visit a lot of places for the first time in my life including Williamstown and the Norman Rockwell Museum. While we were traveling back via Amtrak, we happened to run into a friend of ours who had boarded the same train when it made a stop in New York City and we offered to give him a ride the rest of the way back instead of having him transfer to a Metrobus once the train arrived at the BWI Airport stop. Then the three of us took a detour to the DuClaw brew pub in Arundel Mills before finally driving home. (Good times, good times.)
Which means that this October will also be the fifth anniversary of the East Coast memorial service for my mother-in-law that was held in Western Massachusetts. Since I wrote about that in the previous paragraph, I got that observance over with so I won’t have to bother with it once the actual anniversary month arrives. (Like I wrote a few paragraphs ago, I’m not really into constantly writing new blog posts about my mother-in-law’s death over and over again.)
I would make one final trip to Phoenix to visit my husband’s stepfather. In January, 2011 my husband and I flew to Arizona to celebrate his 80th birthday. We made a weekend out of it as we did things like playing miniature golf (with my husband’s sister, one of his stepsisters, and her children) and swam in the outdoor community pool in my husband’s stepfather’s neighborhood.
I’m glad I took photos on that trip because it ended up being the last trip I made to Phoenix before my husband suddenly walked out on me later that year (just three months after I went through hip surgery). I haven’t spoken to my husband’s stepfather nor any of his step-siblings since my marriage imploded. I’ve always gotten along pretty well with them. I don’t harbor any ill-will towards any of them and I hope that they are doing well in their lives.
I’ve been seeing a therapist since my husband left and I gained some insight regarding my mother-in-law’s difficult personality. I was pretty naive regarding my mother-in-law and how my husband used to fear any kind of confrontations with her. If I was advising a young twenty-something person considering marriage (which was how old my husband and I were when we were married), I would tell that person to pay close attention to how his/her fiancee interacted around his/her own family members. If there is a family member that fiancee is afraid to confront or talk to in an honest way, that’s a red flag. Even if that family member lives hundreds of miles away, you should take a hard look at that situation because you will have to encounter it over and over again. I know that first hand. (I still remember when she totally screamed at the top of her lungs at me during a family trip to Canandaigua, New York because she didn’t like the way I was preparing corn on the cob.)
Her temper tantrums during family vacations are basically just bad memories for me now and I don’t really dwell on them because I no longer have to go through anything like that ever again.
Sure, it was too bad that she died when she did because she had been looking forward to attending her oldest grandson’s wedding, which was held just a few months after her funeral. (Her widowed husband opted not to go to the wedding that year. I think he was still shocked and deeply upset over her sudden death.) And she also missed out on becoming a great-grandmother when that same grandson became a father for the first time in 2013. But things like that happen in life and there’s nothing anyone could do about it.
That’s about all that I have to say about the fifth anniversary of her death. I’m sure that if I’m still writing in this blog long enough for a 10th anniversary, I’ll be doing something special for the blog anniversary. But I probably won’t be observing the 10th anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death since there’s really not much more to write about it.
I’ll close this entry by providing a few links. When my mother-in-law died, the family requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to two non-profit organizations my mother-in-law actively championed during the last 10 years of her life. Here are the links to the non-profits in question.
Community Based Services
Phoenix Public Library Foundation