I was at work when my mother called to tell me Ruth M had died. My mom was at the age when she read the obituaries every day looking for the names of friends and acquaintances, and had seen Ruth’s name in the morning paper.
Ruth was my ex-mother-in-law and I hadn’t seen her since Alan and I divorced more than a dozen years earlier, and I had no desire to go to her funeral. But nevertheless I asked my mother where and when the service would be.
She told me it was that morning and where, and when we hung up I called the funeral home.
“I knew the deceased,” I told the receptionist, “but I can’t make the service. When it’s over please give her son Alan my name and number, and ask him to call me.”
An hour later my phone rang. Alan apparently had gotten my message.
“Hi Pussycat, want me to pick up a quart of milk on my way home?” he asked.
Alan was living in California and had just flown to New York for the funeral. He said that shiva for his mother would be that night at his brother Zach’s Manhattan apartment and he hoped I’d come. I told my husband I was meeting an old friend, and I went.
Zach greeted me warmly at the door, and then I saw Alan walking towards us. We embraced and found a private spot to talk. We spoke about our life together, our lives since, and how good it was to see each other again. But after a long, open-hearted conversation I knew we’d never have resolved our differences, and divorce had been the right decision.
Then heading home from Zach’s apartment an hour or so later it hit me – despite our long talk at her shiva, neither Alan nor I had even mentioned his mother.
And although one should never speak ill of the dead, the truth is – as both Alan and I knew – Ruth had been one battle axe of a mother-in-law!
– Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!