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LaverneI met you 17 years ago. How could it have been that long? I was nervous. You lived in a house much grander than anything I’d ever called home. I wondered if you’d see the simple farm girl in me and think I wasn’t good enough for your son.

Instead, you seemed delighted to meet me. You made me feel part of your family even before your son asked me to marry him. You ironed my wedding gown for me and told me it was the most beautiful dress you’d ever seen. How could you have known that’s what I needed most to hear?

I was crazy about that baby boy of yours, but I marveled at you. You were a mother of six and a grandmother of five. I couldn’t figure out how you could cook and clean for our family dinners and still had all the time in the world to talk.

I wondered if you’d be the kind of mother-in-law who’d intrude into our lives since you lived only blocks away from us newlyweds. You didn’t. You had more friends and a busier social life than anyone I’ve ever known. And surprisingly enough, I looked forward to seeing you. Your faith, commitment to family, and dedication to serving others through community service inspired me. I wanted to be just like you!

I loved our lunches, our "double dates" and our shopping trips when you’d let me use your senior discount. I even loved being with you when Alzheimers crept into your life. Your repetitions questions only reminded me of how interested you were in my life. You would ask me over and over when my baby was due. And then you would tell me again and again how darling the babies were. Alzheimers gave me a good excuse to forgive you for asking if I had "another baby in there" right after I had one.

When your disease became your constant companion, I grieved. You were the mother-in-law of my dreams and too soon, you were slipping away. I had so many questions! I wanted your counsel and your friendship. By the time I had my third child, your confusion was severe. But you visited me at home, happy to see the new baby. When I said I didn’t know how I would do it, you said, "If I can do it, you can do it."

I like to believe you know how very much that meant to me. I want to believe that now that you’ve gone home, you know how very much I love you and admire you and miss you. For me, one of the greatest promises of heaven is the idea that you and I can get all caught up. Knowing you, I’ll probably have to make an appointment!

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