The Love Of A Grandmother

My Mother-in-law has been gone for almost 4 years. This week she would have celebrated her 84th Birthday. Please enjoy my tribute to her!

I decided to share this loving story because this is the Yahrzeit of my mother in law Kathy Thorsen. Happy Hubby and I are Jewish, and it is important to us to remember the loved ones we have lost. The word Yahrzeit means “anniversary of a death”. Jews observe yahrzeit at home by lighting a special long-burning candle in memory of the deceased. There is a really great site call My Jewish Learning, with an in-depth discussion about the Yahrzeit and how it relates to the Jewish faith and customs.

When my mother in law passed away, I was profoundly sad, but not for the reasons most people are sad about death. I was sad for the loss of a woman many people would say found a way to work outside of the box. She was raised in a time when roles for women were inside a small box. She became a Home Economics Teacher, and raised a family, but all along she was in a constant state of personal change, her own metamorphosis if you will. She had a physical strength most older women never achieve, a spiritual awareness that everyone is looking for, and a relationship with her family that was enlightening to most. Even in the way she wanted to deal with her death she had a clarity that most can only wish for. One of the last things she did was give some really illuminating advice to my youngest, which helped her make a life decision that brings her great happiness.

Her love for her grandchildren is what prompted me to write ‘The Love of a Grandmother’ . When it came to her grandchildren she was like a lioness with her cubs, but that isn’t to say she wasn’t strict. She was like many women of her generation, she had rules and she expected them to be followed. However, I guess this didn’t bother the kids, because they loved her greatly and it wrecked them when she died.

It will be three years this Yarzeit, and she is moving into the ‘loving memory’ position in our brains. Zichrono l’vracha! –May her memory be for a blessing!

Like many of us, when I married my Happy Hubby I married his family. And like many of us there was an adjustment. As the new beloved female in his life I had to learn my place in an amazingly strong female’s household. She was a force to be reckoned with, but so am I. The best part about having this great person in my life was all the incredible things I learned from her.

One of things I was privileged to witness was the polite battles she would have with her mother and, every once in a while, her own mother-in-law. I always watched from a safe position, like say the next room or from behind a glass of something. The beverage of choice depended on where we were. In my mother in law’s house, it was a glass of wine, and anywhere else a cup of tea. I had my image to uphold! Of course, I was eavesdropping just a bit.

All I can say is these three women that I had been blessed to know could each hold their own. Man, they were strong-willed beauties! I am pretty confident that their DNA contribution helped to make my daughters the strong-willed beauties that they are.

I was also privileged to witness up close, and sometimes uncomfortably, my mother-in-law and her parenting style with her grandchildren, only two of which were mine. I must say it gave me greater respect for my Happy Hubby and his siblings. Just sayin’! However, even with her ‘spare to rod, spoil the child’ belief, this woman loved her grandchildren with the ferocity of a mother lion. I couldn’t have asked for more.

One of the many ways she shows this was through food. She knew their favorites and would make it for them. Both my brother and sister-in-laws lived and raised their children relatively close to my In-laws. In my own case the military decided where we would live, and it was most definitely not down the street from the rest of our families! So, my girls really appreciated the visits to “home”.

One of the things Kathy would make for our get-togethers was a snack food made with oyster crackers. I know, you thought I was going to say “a special chocolate cake”, or “steak” or something fancy. Don’t get me wrong, her grandchildren had a lot of favorites among them, but this cracker snack is one of the treats they all agree on.

She would make up double and even some triple batches of these cracker snacks, sending them off to the grandkids for special occasions, like when they were returning home from a visit with the grandparents or when they were heading back to college. Whatever the event, the grandchildren received this gift with great happiness and no plans to share.

We had our girls with us up here in Maine a couple of weeks ago. It was to celebrate the family’s Thanksgiving holiday and to say our goodbyes to our Youngest because she was heading back to the Virgin Islands for work. I decided to make up a batch of Grandmother’s Crackers to celebrate their Grandma and all their amazing memories of her.

May her memory be for a blessing, because I know we all are blessed for having known her.  



About the author

Rebecca Thorsen