Thursday, March 21, 2013

In Memory of My Mother-in-Law

On my way to work yesterday morning I thought about what I would write on my blog for the day.  March 20t,h - Andrew’s 31st birthday (my oldest), and we have so much to celebrate! 

But before the work day could end, things changed and now my post for that day is different than I had planned.    At around 2:00 in the afternoon I received a text from my husband, saying that he was in the Emergency Room with his mom.  Although it had been some time since our last trip, we’d become accustomed to the routine; been there/done that so many times that we just take it in stride – another trip to the ER.  But yesterday’s trip was not just another trip – yesterday was our last trip to the ER with Mom.  At around 4:00 in the afternoon, her time here on earth came to an end and she went to meet Our God.  So this post will be a little tribute to my mother-in-law, Frances Krause, and I’ll write about Andrew on another day.

“Mother-in-Law”.   Seems like there can be a lot of emotion attached to that label – and unfortunately, it seems more popular for the emotion to be negative instead of positive, but I was blessed with a very loving mother-in-law and enjoyed my relationship with her.

"Mother-in-Law" they say, and yet
Somehow I simply can't forget,
Twas you who watched his baby ways
Who taught him his first hymn of praise,
Who smiled on him with loving pride
When he first toddled by your side.
"Mother-in-Law" but oh, twas you
Who taught him to be kind and true,
When he was tired, almost asleep,
Twas to your arms he used to creep.
And when he bruised his tiny knee,
Twas you who kissed it tenderly.
"Mother-in-Law" they say and yet
Somehow I never shall forget
How very much I owe
To you, who taught him how to grow.
You trained your son to look above,
You made of him the man I Love
and so I think of that today.
Ah! Then with thankful heart I'll say
'Our Mother'.
(Author unknown)

I saw this poem hanging in a gift shop in Solvang many years ago.  In those days there was no money in our budget for such things, but it so eloquently described the way I felt about my mother-in-law that I stood there and jotted it down in shorthand.  The following spring, I wrote it out in calligraphy, framed it and gifted it to Mom for Mother’s Day.  She hung it in the hallway of their farmhouse, where it stayed until she moved to a retirement community a few years after Dad passed away.  And then she hung it not only in her first apartment there, but the second apartment and then again last year when she moved to an assisted care facility.  Each time I looked at this poem hanging on her wall, the words became more meaningful.

She was a very loving mother-in-law and we had a wonderful relationship– yet I did get a little irritated with her at times, so maybe that’s why she hung the thing on the wall all those years –because she knew that my husband is very much like her in many ways and I needed to be reminded that she made of him the man I love!

My mother-in-law didn’t marry until she was in her mid 30’s, and with marriage to J.C. Krause came three boys (Dennis, Darrell and Don, ages 11-16) who had lost their mother to cancer several years earlier.  That’s a brave woman, right there.    About the time the youngest of those boys became a teenager, she had her firstborn (my husband, Danny), and then five years later, the Krause family finally celebrated the birth of a baby sister for all those boys -- Denise!

I don’t know if it was due to the number of children, the ages of the children, or if more likely it was due to her age and maturity, but Mom kept a tight rein on the younger children and limited their extracurricular activities to nothing more than boys and girls clubs at church on Wednesday nights.   By the time he got to high school, my husband had some resentment about this decision because he felt his lack of experience put him at a strong disadvantage for playing high school sports.  He even carried this resentment with him into adulthood for a time, frustrated that his softball skills were less than he would have liked.   We may not know her reasons for that decision, but I don’t think any of us can argue with, as the poem says, “You trained your son to look above”.  

I have no doubt that Frances Marie Kopper Krause will receive a “Well done, my good and faithful servant” for the way she raised and taught her children.  Early on I realized that my husband’s depth of knowledge of the Bible goes beyond what you receive from merely attending Sunday School – and I believe it’s because he had an obedient Mom who took seriously the commands of Deuteronomy 6: 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

I have many fond memories of my mother-in-law and I learned many valuable lessons from her.  As I write this, I’m recounting things she taught me and blessings she bestowed on me, realizing that I need to write them down for the sake of my children.  But I’m going to close this little tribute by sharing just a few that stand out to me most today. 

When we got our youngest son, Michael, as a foster child, I was trying very hard to guard my feelings because just a few months earlier we had said goodbye to 4-year-old foster twins and the grief was almost unbearable for me.  At that point I was determined to meet the needs of this baby without becoming emotionally attached because I didn’t want to face the same grief when it was time for him to go.  After having him for a few days I took him over to meet my mother-in-law.  I was sharing with her that he seemed very distant, empty, non-respondent.  Immediately she suggested that he may be deaf – not hearing us at all.  About a week later, after we had spent several days in the hospital for tests, her suspicions were proven true.  And when the doctors explained that his loss of hearing was an emotional response to neglect and abuse, my mother-in-law called me daily for the next few weeks to remind me that she was praying for his hearing to be restored, and for me to be able to give him the love he needed.   Michael regained his hearing and I fell madly in love with him, but she never stopped praying.  She had a special place in her heart for Michael and he always considered himself one of her favorites.  She was his confidant, his cheerleader, his encourager, and much of my sadness today is because I know how hard this loss will be on him.

Just a few weeks ago I sat and listened to my husband’s end of a phone conversation with his mom.  He was giving her some Scripture references and quoting some Bible verses for her, and the end of the conversation went something like this:  “Mom, I can bring you some brochures and some literature, but you don’t need it -- you’ve got this – you can do this – you know your stuff.  You know your Bible, Mom, don’t be nervous and don’t be intimidated, just share from your heart the things you know.”  How awesome is that?  At age 89 she wanted to share Christ with her caretakers and she didn’t need someone who had invested years of his life honing his athletic abilities through organized sports, she needed advice and encouragement from one she knew had spent his life learning and studying God’s Word – and that just happened to be the boy she had so diligently taught.  

With tears in my eyes, a heavy sadness and yet an indescribable joy and peace because I know that she has eternal life with Jesus Christ our Savior, it is with a thankful heart that I say goodbye to 'Our Mother'... 

In Loving Memory of
Frances Marie Krause
June 10, 1923 – March 20, 2013


Nancy said...

A beautiful tribute, Colette. She would have called you to thank you after she read it.

Mama Gail said...

Frances was a very kind lady. Danny is a testimony to her walk with the Lord. I remember Ben got to go play at her house with Michael when she watered her lawn. Great fun!

Diane Ware said...

Lovely tribute Colette. Her passing will leave a huge void in your family but how fortunate to have so many memories to fill it.