I fell in love with my mother-in-law the *moment I met her. She was dressed all in green, as I recall. Like some kind of beautiful grasshopper. Well, that's not exactly right, but...she was something bright.
I had flown out to California to visit Michael, part of our early courtship, and we'd driven to San Diego to see her. We were both nervous to meet, but that passed as soon as I walked in the door. She held her arms out and said, "Welcome Elizabeth!"in her Tennesee/Southern California drawl.
That was the beginning of what's been a long and lovely leaning into each other over the years. Mother-in-law, friend, grandmother to Claire, spiritual warrior extraordinaire, inspiration.
Today is Johnie's 85th birthday. Oh, so many stories I could tell about her. But it's late and I'm tired and a bit blue that we're here, and not in San Diego with her. We called and sang a wobbly rendition of Happy Birthday. Well, it came together in the end.
"Oh my!" Johnie said, laughing over the speaker phone, "You all sound amazing!"
When I got on the phone with her we chatted for a bit.
"I'm so sorry we're not with you," I said.
"Oh, Elizabeth, don't you worry about a thing. I'm getting stronger every day, I'm coming back, girl. And you know what? The best thing we can do for ourselves is to get the stress out of our lives. Period, Elizabeth. No worrying."
That's my Johnie-girl.
*[I wish I had a picture of her from that day. This one with Claire is an oldie. It's grainy and dark but it catches her twinkly eyes and the two of them together feels sweet to me.]