I wrote this over a year ago for my amazing mother-in-law. At that point, she had battled cancer three times. And then, late last fall it came back for a fourth time.
On Tuesday afternoon she passed away.
When I told my children that she had died they said they couldn’t imagine a world without her in it, all I could say was, “I know. I know.”
Any word I could use to describe her: thoughtful, generous, brave, dedicated, funny, selfless, would all be a tremendous understatement.
There aren’t enough words. May we all live a life like that. So at the end of our lives any words that anyone could say to describe us could never do complete justice to the way we lived and loved.
Thank you Yia-Yia, one of the best humans of all time, here’s to you.
I feel like there are too many things that I haven’t told you. I think that is the thing with super women. We just assume that they know how extraordinary their super powers are that we forget to voice them out loud. We forget that everyone needs to have their cup refilled (yes, your exact words that you’ve said to me). I think it is beyond time that I expressed my gratitude out loud for the way you love out loud. There aren’t enough words or pages for all of the things so here is just a beginning.
You love my children. You say yes to them and dedicate whole days to the word yes. They know Yia-Yia is synonymous with laughter and play and swinging and all that is important in childhood. And adulthood. Whenever I am in doubt about the right decision of how to handle a situation with my kids I usually ask myself “What Would Yia-Yia do?” And that always finds a way to bring me to the right path; the happier path; the path of yes.
You love me. You love me like I was one of your own children which makes me feel like one of the luckiest girls in the world. You have been a therapist, a friend and a mother. You not only watch my children but you have slipped me money when I’ve gone out the door for girls weekends. You give the best gifts from shoes to clothes to Anthropologie happiness. I know love has nothing to do with the material, but I am astonished by the thought behind each and every thing. I know that I haven’t thanked you enough because I am the worst ever at thank you cards, but I know your generosity is lined in it all. I myself am stitched together by flaws laced in hopeful intentions but you never point them out. You never make me feel like not enough but instead like I am a light and I am not alone. You have an understated way of making everyone feel like they have gifts in this world that need to be shined for all to see. You see all of our children’s strengths, all of their gifts. Not to say that they don’t each have their faults, of course they do, but what a hopeful world it is to just look for the good. That in itself is a gift of yours. It is not a slight thing to be able to see everyone’s light.
You’ve shown me the love that is food. And that there isn’t a situation in life that couldn’t be improved by a glass of Chardonnay. You are a brilliant, bountiful and beautiful chef. You make the type of food that people yearn to be in your kitchen. You provide the company that people don’t want to leave. And when they do they will not leave empty handed. I have not left your kitchen without at least three tupperware containers of your delicious food in the last 15 years.
You’ve given me your son. He is of course both of ours, for better or worse and I still call dibs on you should we ever get a divorce but when we got married, you handed him to me with grace. You handed him to me with hope. He will always be one of the best people I will ever meet in this world and that is to your credit. He is a strong man and he was raised by a strong woman. I am in awe of the tenacity in those genes and am grateful that blood that thick is coursing through my children.
And there is you. Resilience personified. You take nothing lying down and you take it with a smile. You find humor in what others would hide from. You bring laughter with a side of spanakopita. Dirty jokes with wine. Strength with spirit. You do not let things break you. You overcome.
I hope that when I become a mother-in-law that I do half as good a job as you have done for me. That would be the ultimate success. I know I never have called you mom but that doesn’t mean that I would ever consider you as anything else. Thank you. Thank you for everything. You will always be more than I could hope for.
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Katie Yackley Moore is a freelance writer, yoga instructor and a momma of four navigating life and a separation and finding herself in the process. She adores coffee shops, laughing until it hurts and impromptu dance parties. Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Mamalode and HuffPost Parents. She has published a journal entitled “Dream a Bigger Dream” and the children’s books “You Are a Warrior” and “We are Family” and just finished her first novel. Catch up with her between tea breaks at The Naked Momma and on Facebook.