Monday, January 4, 2010

Starting the New Year on a Sad Note

Tomorrow is my mother-in-law’s funeral. She passed away New Year’s Eve, following a brief and rapid decline after a fall. Although her health had been deteriorating over the past several years, it was still a shock to see her fail so quickly last week. I am so grateful my children were all in town to spend time with her over Christmas break. Those last few days will always be treasured.

The first time I met Nona was in Quito, Ecuador. She was the wife of my mission president, and she and her husband met us at the airport upon our arrival. She was happy, gracious and having served a mission herself, a staunch supporter of sister missionaries. She was also the best missionary I have ever met.

One day while on my mission, I had the opportunity to go shopping with her. She talked with EVERYONE about the gospel. No sales clerk or store patron was exempt. Over the years she has also shared the gospel with every repairman who visited her home, handing out many Book of Mormons, and helping to bring numerous people into the church. I also came to know her as a great speaker, teacher, and a woman of tremendous faith.

Another trait she possessed which I always admired was her graciousness to all who visited her home. I first noticed this as a newlywed, when we were visiting my in-laws while they were living in northern Mexico. Many people were traveling through town during the time we were there, and all were welcomed into her home. Although there was a steady stream of company, never once was anyone turned away or made to feel they were an inconvenience. And in fact, I am sure every person who stayed at the house left feeling welcomed, cared for, loved and appreciated.

As an observer, I knew the constant company required a lot of work, expense, and frequent changes in plans. I was so impressed, however, that none of that was ever obvious to the guests. It made me want to be sure that no one ever entered my home without feeling welcome.

The last trait I want to mention is one all the in-laws laugh over and joke about—and the family members can’t figure out why we think it is so funny. :-) But . . . Nona truly believed all of her children were perfect. They were the smartest, the best looking, the most athletic, kindest, most talented children ever. (So it came as quite a shock to her when my husband became the one and only person ever asked not to participate in the high school choir:-)

One brother told me he loved having his mother at his football games. Although she didn’t always know what was happening, she was positive he was the star. (You just have to love a mother like that.) So even though those of us who married into the family now have to deal with the egos :-) Nona left her children a wonderful gift. They all grew up confident, believing in themselves, and unafraid of exploring new paths.

She will be greatly missed.

Quote for the day: It is such a blessing to love someone so much that it hurts when they are gone. The real tragedy is when you do not feel the sorrow. (Donise Price)

And as a gift from her to you, I am leaving you with Nona's Ritz Cracker Chicken recipe. She was a great cook, but I think her chicken will always be my favorite. (This has been modified a little to simplify and reduce the fat, but it retains its great flavor)

Easy Ritz Cracker Chicken

4-6 chicken breasts, cut into 2-3 pieces each
1 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 cups Ritz crackers, crushed
4 Tbsp. butter, melted. (or more if needed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together yogurt, Parmesan cheese, garlic salt and poultry seasoning. Take a piece of chicken and dredge in yogurt mixture and then roll in the crushed Ritz crackers. Place in buttered baking dish. Continue until all pieces are coated. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Enjoy!!


Suzanne said...

That was an amazing post!! I am so impressed by your Mother In Laws example, that I want to be just like her one day! I am so sorry for your loss! I applaud you for recognizing all the positivie traits in her life and rejoicing over the full life she lived! God be with you during this time! -Suzanne

Neil and Meredith Larson said...

I think Grandma passed on the thinking your children are perfect gene to me. Even after Grace had a 20 minute tantrum at the doctor's office I still think she is a wonder and there couldn't possibly be a better baby then little John :) And thanks for the chicken recipe I will have to try it out.

Momza said...

A Legacy like hers is a testament to the power of One.
May we all so live that the same may be said of us.
SO sorry for your family's loss--I wonder how busy she is already; sharing the gospel wherever she is, no doubt.

Dave and Camille said...

Thanks for sharing that, it was very beautiful. I really appreciated it. Love you!

Lisa said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your mother in laws passing. She sounded like quite a women. It's true, women can change the world for good.

MissKris said...

Thanks for sharing those memories! I'm going to miss Grandma so much.

Shannon said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a great family and beautiful memories you have forever.

Small House said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mother in law. What a treat to have such a good relationship with her. Sounds as if she was an amazing person.

May your heart be filled with peace!

Rebecca Irvine said...

I hope I can be as good a mother as Nona was! What an inspiring woman. Please give my sympathy to your husband and family during this time. I know if my mother passed away I would probably be heart broken, so I know this must be a difficult time.

Da Bergs said...

Sounds like you had THE best MIL ever!!! Luck you!

Nikia, May and da kids said...

I would say sorry for your loss but you can read the love in your post for this wonderful woman. Families can be together forever. Very touching tribute to her.

The Mission President's wife, WOW! You were the cream of the crop = )


Marilyn said...

Thank you for such a wonderful tribute to her. I am so happy I got to meet her for a brief time. She touched many lives, not just those in her own family. May the spirit of the Lord be with your family at this time.

Christina said...

Thanks for letting me get to know Nona a little bit.

JustMEtheMOM said...

I'm so sorry - She sounds like a grand lady. I'm sure your family has so appreciated and her wonderful example, you'll treasure those memories forever.

I'll try the chicken recipe - sounds like a keeper to me.

Hugs and best wishes,


Terri said...

So sorry about your loss, I enjoyed knowing more about her!