My Mom-in-Law

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If you were to ask me to list down my qualifications for my m.i.l., my number 1 item would certainly be ‘not’ one whose son was her one and only begotten, whom she loved so very much.

Hubby’s mom gave birth to him when she was in her late 30s. He was literally 天賜 (God-given). His one and only sister is 13 years older than he is. She was mistaken for being his mom when he was young. And even today, she had been mistaken for being my m.i.l.

The first time I called hubby at his home phone, his mom enthusiastically told me to call again. LOL! She was so surprised a girl called his son. And yes, it was me who called him first.  I called him to return to work (he resigned) to help me with my inventory taking.  We met each other in our first job set up by our mastermind-matchmaker-ninang.

Our ninang (godmother), my mom’s good friend wanted to match me with hubby. When my mom told me about it, I said “No.” I don’t want any kai siao (Hokkien for matchmaking). I didn’t know then that my smart ninang had other means to work things out.

So there I was – getting into the relationship with someone whose mom loves him to the moon and back and I didn’t know or could I even imagine the implications of such a reality.

If I knew, I would have run in the opposite direction. But alas, God’s ways are not my ways, His thoughts so much higher than mine. In my innocently ignorant state of mind, I got married to hubby because: he was tall, he was witty (he made me laugh), he helped me with my inventory tasks. I was his first and only GF and he was my first and only BF. There was no other more qualified BF/GF in our workplace.

Through 33 years of being a daughter-in-law living together with m.i.l., God showed me His grace is more than sufficient for me and His mercy for me never deficient.

I learned so much from my m.i.l. – how to cook, how to be brave and independent yet depending on God, how to be strong (not “khin poh nyu” – Hokkien for being fragile ‘princess’; e.g. weakling); how to be ‘matigas’ ulo (Pilipino for mule-headed): stubbornly persevering to stick with what I set out to do… how to get used to cooking in the middle of the night because hubby’s hungry.

God is humorous. He paired my hard-of-hearing mom with my chatty dad. He matched me – someone who did not know how to cook – do not have passion for cooking, with someone who loves to eat. When we first got married, m.i.l. complained to our ninang that I did not even know how to hold the ladle properly when cooking. I cannot claim to be master chef but I am chief chef of our home. Hubby does show his appreciation for my efforts. In the pandemic, he is considerate to suggest and order food elsewhere so I can rest and he can too, from my cooking. 

There are so many other stories to tell about life with m.i.l. Perhaps I could write a book about it someday. I only started today coz I am now a m.i.l.

It is quite something new to hear Jensen call me ‘ma.’  It feels good. it is the feeling of gaining a son. I lost Gabriel when he was 5 months in my womb. After 3 decades, God gave me another son. Thank you, Lord.

I thank the Lord that God gave Hannah a m.i.l. beyond what I would have thought to ask. I only asked that perhaps, it would be good if she did not get someone like mine. 

God is good. He gives even before we ask. He gives more than we know how to ask. When I first met my balae (Tagalog term for m.i.l./f.i.l. of our children; chi uhm in Hokkien), I said to myself – wow, so mabait. She looks so kind and gentle. Praise God. Really, I was so glad – even more so now after getting to know of my balae. Most importantly, Hannah’s m.i.l. knows the Lord.

So did my m.i.l., I thank God for giving me a m.i.l. who knows the Lord – whose faith in God compelled her to kneel before Him everyday. She prayed fervently for her son and his family. She served the Lord going on visitations with pastors and church friends. Her faith was her stronghold and refuge through the years of poverty and hard life she had taking care of a sickly son, through the countless times of falling and being sick. She was sickly in her younger years – in the early years of our marriage.

God is merciful and gracious. My mom-in-law returned to her Creator at the ripe old age of 96 (true biological age – not Chinese lunar age). She passed on peacefully at home in her own bed with her family – son, daughter in law, 2 granddaughters, 2 caregivers by her side… amidst the pandemic, no COVID, no hospital, no peg, no trach, no dialysis, not any additional discomfort than what is natural. She survived all other 3 of our parents (6 years more than my f.i.l.; 4 years more than my parents) even though she was the most sickly; fell the most times.

I am no Ruth and she is no Naomi. Ours is not the perfect m.i.l.-d.i.l. story. But our God is the perfect author of our story. I thank God for giving me my mom-in-law. Blessed be in His name.

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