LA Affairs: Reasons to cherish mother-in-law on Mother’s Day

It was the day when my mother-in-law’s ashes were scattered in the San Gabriel Mountains, not far from where she grew up. Diana was an avid hiker who was camping in her late 60s. One of her daughters and granddaughters made an altar from the flowers next to a tree in honor of the woman who loved us so much.

It was a good day full of emotion. However, the children are young and will move on quickly. grown up? Not so many. My husband, a teenager, and I went to Din Tai Fung’s dumplings to celebrate Diana with a family meal. The song “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits was played on the radio. Suddenly, tears were flowing on my face.

My daughter was confused. “What’s wrong, mom? Why are you crying? now?? “

How can you explain that you were thinking of listening to this song many years ago?

One of my best friends in high school was a 6-foot-tall, blonde, blue-eyed goddess. We were in touch when Kristen went to college. In one of her letters, she teaches that one of her (many) suitors standing outside the window played the guitar and sang the song “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits. He gave me a letter.

I was stunned by this level of worship. WHO for real Will you be a serenade? I have to admit, I was jealous too. I was 100% positive and no one sang to me like that.

I was so lucky that when my turn moved to college, I managed to become another blonde supernatural beauty, Elaine and my roommate. She always had a flock of young men in the congregation and came to worship sea-like eyes and cotton sundresses.

During the semester we lived with, Elaine’s (incredibly hot) boyfriend made her mixtape full of subtly romantic and eclectic music. Her favorite tape was played frequently in our room and, of course, included “Romeo and Juliet”. What was your deal with this love song? It seemed to be an integral part of the courtship of romantic college students. (For my generation, there was no clearer sign of affection than a carefully crafted mix of songs on a cassette.)

In contrast, I didn’t have a college boyfriend. This was definitely the height of my earthly beauty, but nevertheless I didn’t feel beautiful or adorable. I looked cute and was raised to serve men in my life, never offended them. Have you heard of the book “The Rules”? Many Generation X women like me wore lipstick and skirts after reading the book and did their best not to show anger. Burf.

After graduating with a degree in sociology — I love people and find us fascinating — I entered the real world. My first job was as a flight attendant. As I met people from different places and backgrounds, I began to understand my true strengths and values.

I may not have a symmetrical face, but I’m good at encouraging people and making them laugh.The more people you meet, the more you will understand I Had to provide in a relationship.

Then it was the week of November 2000. Swing dance enthusiasm was sweeping the nation (remember the khaki ad from Gap featuring Louis Prima’s “Jump, Jive Unwail”?) I go to Los Angeles and Orange County almost every night Dance to the live swing band. (I also took lessons, bought second-hand clothes and curled my hair like the Andrews Sisters of World War II.) I was dating with five people every night. Actually male! My confidence has reached an unprecedented height.

However, the dates for the week did not go as planned.

Jeff was mid-famous in the swing dance scene because he belonged to most of the best bands as an alto saxophone player. And he was able to actually dance. He dated all the cute swing dancers in town and wasn’t going to slow down.

The first impressions of each other were different. He is prematurely gray and polite as if he came from another generation. I thought he was too old for me. He said I always had a stupid smile on my face. He thought I was too capricious for him.

One night after the live performance, we started a conversation behind the scenes. He said he was single. I said, “Are you single? I think I need my number.” I swear I was about to be shy.

Sure enough, late that night he turned to me and said, “So do I get your number or what?”

To date, we discuss who first asked the other.

So I’m back in the week when the dates were lined up like a plane landing at LAX. That Monday after my first date with Jeff, I canceled the rest of the date. We went to a restaurant with valet parking and he opened the door for me. Prior to this, I dated an immature boy. Jeff was different. I just wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. By the end of the week, I thought I would never go on another first date again. (And just as I did them well!)

A year later, I went hiking with Jeff to the top of the hills in Elysian Park. There he was waiting for a surprise. He didn’t just write a love song for me.He had four musician friends play and sing for me In public As he suggested.

Jeff accepted everything that my elegance, anxiety, and “rules” were supposed to hide. He encouraged me to open my emotions and discuss — what he learned from his mother. He advised me to cry in front of him instead of hiding it when I was sad. This was a big deal for me. I grew up believing that I was weak, poor, and frankly annoying.

And here I was crying in front of the whole family! And my daughter wanted to know why.

So I told her.

When I hear that song, I always cry because it reminds me of old anxieties. At the age of 18, I couldn’t even imagine all the love in this car.

I couldn’t dream of a boyfriend like I was married. The most romantic and unexpected Romeo I didn’t know I could love. And I wouldn’t have dreamed of a mother-in-law like Diana. Diana never identified me as a mother. Instead, she told me about the mistakes she made while raising her child.

Knowing Diana and witnessing her relationship with her children and grandchildren was an unfolding revelation. She played the piano throughout Jeff’s childhood, encouraging his interest in music. She taught my daughter how to crochet, love books, and prevent plastic from blowing into the ocean. She played word games and puzzles with my son and was a big fan of his card tricks and jokes. She was a feminist who learned how to manage money from her father, a banker. She was also free to donate to charity, was naturally passionate, and was skilled in finding the perfect gift. She loved to soak in the hot tub with a drink every night.

Being a good mom doesn’t mean being a perfect mom, she taught me. Being a good mom means admitting that you have been ruined and taking care of yourself so that your child can see a healthy adult model.

I’m still a love song sucker. But the song can’t fully explain what Jeff and I have in the last few years. We grow older together, mourn the loss of his mom, raise children, and understand the wonderful and difficult parts of life.

They haven’t written many songs about this kind of love. No one will believe them.

The author is the founding organizer and blog author of Get Organized Already based in Pasadena. More details on her personal story can be found in the substack “Notes from Nonni”.

LA Affairs records a romantic quest for love in all of its glorious expressions in the LA region. We want to hear your true story. You will pay $ 300 for the published essay. Email The submission guidelines are here.

LA Affairs: Reasons to cherish mother-in-law on Mother’s Day

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