It’s been two weeks since we got the call that my dear mother-in-law was suddenly taken to the hospital, and even though she’d had a way of rallying each time she’d gotten very ill in the past couple of years, without pondering it too much, CR and I both realized that it likely wasn’t going to turn out to be one of those times. And even though we knew this horrible day would come, none of us were ready for it, even though I think she was.
On Monday, March 21st, our dearest Mother, Mother-in-Law, and Grandma joined her beloved husband in the Sweet Hereafter.
I have struggled the past couple of weeks over whether or not to mention her passing publicly; she was a private person and to that end, I worried that by speaking about her, I might be doing something she wouldn’t like.Besides, I certainly don’t think my point of view could truly do justice in tribute to such a lovely soul.
But I felt deeply that I must mark her passing in some small way here.
I wish I would’ve had a chance to know her better, or maybe “better” isn’t the right word…deeper, might be a more accurate way to put it. Living so far away and her difficulty with traveling over the last 15 years or so made spending lots of time with her tough. Plus, I didn’t call her as often I wanted since I always worried she was napping (and I myself hate being woken by the telephone). But when we did spend time together, she was a delight to be around, with her quick wit and straightforward way of looking at things. We vacationed together quite a few times over the years, and always we enjoyed being together. How many people can you say that about?
Like I said, Mom was a private person, and when it came to other people’s lives, that’s just how she treated things. Even though she had an opinion, she’d never give it to you. Sometimes you could eventually get it out of her, but it took lots of cajoling, and even then, you’d likely only get a vague sort of comment, regardless of the matter.
She had a mind that was razor-sharp to the end. Besides being able to handle whatever the NY Times Crossword puzzle folks could throw at her, Mom was a card shark. She could be found many days playing Bridge and rarely, as she put it, “losing the family inheritance.” The only people she ever lost card games to were likely her grandchildren, and even then she didn’t give up a game of Crazy Eights too willingly. She had a wicked sense of humor, too—great with the one-liners!
Clear-sighted and practical about life in general, she was always sweet, gentle, and loving, too. So many people deeply loved her and enjoyed her company. At her wake, as family and friends shared stories of times spent with Jeanne, so much laughter and joy filled the room and carried far out into the lobby of the funeral home, people from the two other wakes in the place would come down the hall just to see what was going on.
There are many other things I could share, but as I said, she was a very private person, and I must honor that. I will say, however, that the wonderful children she loved and raised are further evidence of how wonderful she herself was.
And for now, until I get to spend time with her again, I will remember her in the way I overheard one of my brothers-in-law say at her wake: dancing in heaven with my father-in-law, finally together again.
Jeanne M. McCue Guttosch
April 5, 1927 – March 21, 2011