She and I had a special bond. We both grew up knowing poverty. We both felt the sting of discrimination. We also knew the feeling of rejection when we pursued a path that was not generally accepted.
She was my mother-in-law, and she passed away last week.
From the minute we met, I adored her. Like me, she was pushy, but unlike me, you’d never know it. Her pushiness was gentle. Her pushiness was to protect her family. She’d go to any extent to do so but you’d never know it since, no matter how difficult the situation, she was there and willing to do whatever it took without one word of complaint. She was also a determined woman and wanted to live life to its fullest. When we were out at a restaurant and she couldn’t decide on a dessert, she’d say to the server, “Just bring them all.”
She was brave and adorable even when in the hospital. While we worried about her, she wanted us — her family — to feel comfortable and know she would fight for them.
On one visit, as each group of doctors entered her room, she introduced us to them. “This is Jason, and this is my son-in-law, Mark.” When one group came in and she did that intro, and she felt they did not understand or didn’t give us the right respect, she added in determination, “Son-in-law, you’ve seen that before, right?”
Jason thinks she did it to show us how much she supported us, but I already knew that. I think she did it to show the doctors how cool she was. And she was. Either way, it brings a smile to my face and I’m sure that is what she would want. Her children, Lillian, Ryan and Jason, all have their stories that bring them warmth and a smile.
At our wedding, just before the ceremony, she surprised Jason and me by giving each of us a piece of her wedding veil, which she had cut for the occasion and said, “Put it in your pockets, it’s my family tradition.” She was not only there with smiles; she wanted us to know that she wanted to be a personal part of our lives and celebrate us.
Everyone she met felt they had a special bond with her. All of her loved ones have a story, and she left each of them with a smile.
Lynn, my mother-in-law, thank you for being in my life.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His recently published memoir, "And Then I Danced," is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or at your favorite bookseller. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at https://twitter.com/PhilaGayNews.
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