Welcome to (yet another) substitute host edition of The Grieving Room. This one will also be a bit short, as I'm composing this diary on my phone.

A special welcome to anyone who is new to The Grieving Room. We meet every Monday evening. Whether your loss is recent or many years ago, whether you have lost a person or a pet, or even if the person you are "mourning" is still alive ("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time) you can come to this diary and process your grieving in whatever way works for you. Share whatever you need to share. We can't solve each other's problems, but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.

It has been just over a year since we lost my mother in law to a host of age-related maladies, at age 84. She was a very loving and caring woman, almost fiercely so, and I have been gaining insight into what went into her particular collection of idiosyncrasies.  

Early in my marriage, I was put off by her reluctance to let anyone (read: me) help. I couldn't help prepare the meals or even do the dishes at her home. At first, I took that as a message that, in her eyes, I couldn't do anything right.  After a few years, though, it became clear that her home, and especially her kitchen, were her castle, and the only place on earth where she could have things exactly as she wanted them to be.

Chatting yesterday with my beloved Father-in-law, as my husband peppered him with questions about the family tree, I was reminded that my MIL was the only child of her mother's second husband (of three), and as such, was half-sister to her older brothers and younger sister. As a result, she ended up shuttling between homes, raised mostly by an aunt and a grandmother. They lived on the border, where she was born American to Mexican parents, but was much more comfortable speaking Spanish than English. As a teen, she ended up doing most of the maternal work in the house (eldest girl), and eventually, at age 17, walked into a real estate office to inquire about buying a home of her own. That being beyond her means, home ownership had to wait until she married. All she asked of her husband was a home of her own, and when she finally got it, she didn't let it go. During their 61 years of marriage, they bought seven houses, and only ever sold one. The extra five houses provide a comfortable retirement income now..

My MIL fed me and my family many meals, and I was almost never allowed to participate in either preparation or clean-up. Today, however, my husband and kids and I took over her castle and cooked HER food - one of her specialties - and ate it around her table. We talked about her and all agreed that while this could never have happened in her lifetime, we thought she would enjoy seeing us eat one of  her meals at her table - in her honor.

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