Thursday, 3 May 2012

My Mother-in-Law (MiL) - today she would have been 101 years

A picture of MiL aged about 3 years with two of her brothers
My MiL was a real character, although I did not always think so at the time. She often saw things completely differently to other people. In retrospect I can see that much of what she did was very amusing, although at the time many of us in the family did not necessarily think so.
She was very thrifty and did not like to spend money. This resulted in her having gadgets that did not work properly because she retrieved things that other people threw out.
She had a little handheld hoover, which was very heavy and had a bag that would swell when used. It was more than likely thrown out by someone else because there was a hole in the bag. She had carefully patched and stitched the hole up and was very happy with it. I use to watch her whizzing around, the dust being sucked up at the front and blown out through the patch at the back. I did not have the courage or heart to tell her, but just watched in amusement.
She would hang her perishables in a little meat safe in a tree. A box with grill windows all round. This would drive animals in the area mad with desire. She had a fridge but did not switch it on, because of the purring sound it made, and knowing that it was using electricity day and night drove her to distraction. This became a major problem for us when visiting one year. Our eldest son became very ill, and it turned out to be Scarlet Fever. He was prescribed a double course of antibiotics. He had never taken them before, and this resulted in her having to have the fridge switched on to keep the antibiotic fresh!!! She did not believe in illness, doctors, hospitals or inoculations, and kept saying "that old stuff cannot be doing him any good" and in exasperation I would repeat that we had to do as the doctor advised. Of course she was proved right, it turned out that our son was allergic to the antibiotic and his face blew up like a balloon. She said "I knew it was doing him no good".
She never had a washing machine, and when H bought me one, her reaction was "well done, well deserved". Everybody knew what she meant when she said things like that. 
Her Grandson bought one half of an architecturally interesting Victorian Lodge/Gatehouse to a big house when he got married, and her comment was "good of him to take it on".
She did not send H to school because he was happy playing around on the farm. It also would have meant a very long walk for her to get him there along the country lanes. The School Inspector came to see her when H was nearing six to see where he was. She said he was very happy as he was helping his father on the farm. It did not seem to do him too much harm, he still passed his scholarship and got a place at the local Grammar school when he was only ten, the usual age being eleven.
She was a very hard worker, and a thrifty saver. She never spent anything on herself. A trait which has been inherited by H. He is, however, very generous towards everyone else. H's father would take us on one side and say "you would not believe how much money your mother has saved", she was completely unaware that he had looked at her private Post Office savings books!
One year we went on holiday with them to the coast. We had travelled down from Scotland, where we were living to Surrey with our eldest son, who was still a baby. In those days that was a really long journey in our little Mini car. The following day we set off from their home for the coast.  It was a journey of about 35 miles, but along winding country roads. We were in our car and they travelled ahead of us. When we arrived she was in a panic, she had left some of her saved money squirrelled away in a secret place, and was worried that she might die and no one would know where it was. I had to turn our car around, and drive her all of the way back again so that she could retrieve the money. Very annoying and tiring at the time, but funny when looking back.
H with his mother and sister
The sad thing is, if she had been educated to a higher level, she had the potential and character to have been very successful in some sphere of life. She is still an ever present memory to us all.

38 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary:
    We have so enjoyed reading this account of your MIL and all her foibles. One can only imagine what others would write about our own strange and idiosyncratic ways. We rather like the way that she was a true character and ploughed her own, highly individual way through life.

    And, the final point you raise is so very interesting. We know of so many people for whom, given more educational opportunities, their lives would surely have taken very different turns. But, perhaps, that is so for all of us? Life is such a lottery!

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - I am so pleased that you have caught the essence of what I was trying to portray about my MiL. It is people like her that stick in our memories, and I like the way you say that she ploughed her own, highly individual way through life, this is so true.

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  2. This is a lovely post Rosemary, the photos are beautiful and I love the way you have captured your MIL's litte oddities along with her obvious qualities. J

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    1. Dear Janice - It is people like my MiL who actually have the most impact on us during our lives. All of us in the family have lots of different tales about her and how she affected us as individuals. As you mention her oddities were many but then so were her qualities.

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  3. She sounds like an amazing woman - I found it fascinating reading about her life and I think you have captured her spirit and character so beautifully :-)

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    1. Dear Nat - Thank you so much. I did not want her to come across in a negative way, as that she certainly was not. I am relieved that everyone seem to have picked up on her personality, which was unique - that is what I hoped for.

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  4. What a great story you have told us about your Mother in law Lil. She certainly was a charachter.
    I read the post twice Rosemary. Its brought a smile to my face. What a thing! to hang her meat on the tree. Your poor son. ): another smile here. Our parents learnt their sayings from their parents.
    I remember my mother saying sometimes. "That wont do any good". I learnt a lot from my mother.
    I just love the hoover.
    Super photos of H with his mother and sister.
    happy Thursday Rosemary.
    val

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    1. Dear Val - glad you enjoyed the story about my MiL. She really was a character, there are lots and lots of stories about her. Perhaps one day I may tell more.
      When you see a hoover like that, it makes you realise how lucky we are today, with our lightweight efficient machines.
      Thanks for your visit, and enjoy the rest of the day.

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    2. I love your latest story! It reminds me of my own dear father (no doctors, no medicines, a daily dip in the sea - winter & summer. Secret hoards of cash around the house etc...)and, indeed, his own mother who had her own odd ideas about how the world worked - thankfully they both had a generous & loving side too. As I get older I wonder if we all fall, to a greater or lesser extent, into two categories - the eccentrics and the "normals". I think I know which type I might be.

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    3. Dear Nilly - I wonder if there are quite so many of those characters around today. They didn't have bank accounts, didn't believe in insurance. They weren't influenced by the latest trends as TV was in its infancy. Globalisation did not exist, celebrity was a mystery. They got on with their lives in their own way, nobody told them what they should be eating or how they should cook. My MiL continued to live in a pounds, shillings and pence world until the end even though the country had been decimalised for 20 years.

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  5. Dear Rosemary, What a wonderful life story you have shared with us. Often I am reminded of well educated people who have a difficult time coping with every day life. Your MiL was obviously a very practical woman, she had the best kind of education, an education that served her well.

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    1. Dear Gina - she was contented and did not want for anything, unlike many people today. She was happy being out in the woods collecting berries to make jam, fir cones to put on the open fire, and playing card games with her friends.

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  6. Dear Rosemary,

    This is a lovely post and a lovely story, at the same time. I love the way you described MiL: she comes across like a truly eccentric character (I sould know all about that, as I married one!) and very, very interesting! I love the story about the vacuum cleaner. So delightful!

    Thank you very much for opening the door on a little slice of your family life, as, though she is no longer there, MiL abviously made and left her mark and lots of fond memories. Memories are important!

    I love the old photos, too! I have a tiny one of my mum, when she was young and very pretty. It's a bit spoilt and there's a mark on one of her eyes, but I love looking at it, as it allows me to travel back to a time when I wasn't alive and wouldn't have been for a long time (she had me quite late, which explains a lot about me! Now you know!)

    THANKS AGAIN FOR A LOVELY POST.

    ANNA
    xx

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    1. Dear Anna - memories of MiL have been so well received that I might do another one about her at some time.
      It is characters like hers that add to the spice of life. If everyone was the same the world would be a much duller place.
      You could probably do something about the photo of your mother. If you have iPhotos or Photoshop you could maybe remove the mark on her eye and enhance the photo.
      You must have been a very special gift to your mother and father arriving late in life, and obviously took after your mother in your looks.
      Ciao♥

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  7. What a delightful post, Rosemary. I loved reading about your thrifty, capable and very individualistic mother-in-law. She must have been absolutely infuriating at times, but obviously made a great impression on those who knew her. And she and her husband must have made a good job of educating H at home for him to pass his 11+ at the age of 10.

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    1. I am so pleased that you enjoyed reading about MiL. I want memories of her to remain for my sons and grandchildren. So often I have looked at old family photos and wondered about the people pictured. I would have liked to know more about them, and wished that I had asked my parents when they were alive.
      The only education H received from his parents was whatever happened on the farm. When he passed his scholarship they told him that he was on his own. H ended up with a University Chair, and there is no doubt in my mind that he got his intelligence from his mother.

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  8. Wonderful story and memories!

    ♥ Franka

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    1. Thanks for reading Franka - and pleased that you found it interesting.

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  9. Cor, I wouldn't want to do the cleaning with that hoover. Brilliant photos.

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    1. Thanks Bob - the little hoover was extremely heavy, we are so lucky today to have Dysons.

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  10. Your MIL sounds like an interesting lady Rosemary. I wanted to say 'from another century', but off course she is! People born at the beginning of the last century are different. They know what it is to have very little. Although my parents were both born in the 1930s I can still see it in them too.

    Such sweet photo's of your husband & MIL.

    Happy evening!

    Madelief x

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    1. Dear Madelief - it was such a different world. Not many people went abroad for their holidays, and there wasn't the instant 24 hour news from around the globe like there is today. I wonder if we have lost something in the process?
      Thanks for your lovely comment♥

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  11. Rosemary, I really enjoyed reading your recollections of MIL. The hoover escapades tickled me. To have had such characters in our lives is truly an enriching experience. Her success lays in the fact that she created some wonderful memories that you recite to us so tenderly today.
    Paul

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    1. Dear Paul - I have really been taken by surprise that so many people have enjoyed reading this post. There are other tales about her life that I may be tempted to do another post sometime. There are not many people that you come into contact with who provide you with a whole host of memories, so yes, she really was a unique character.

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  12. Beautiful story! It's amazing all the different idiosyncracies we can have and how different people can live from each other. I personally wish I had a bit more of her thriftiness and this post has been of inspiration!

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    1. Dear Roanna - I think that people were more thrifty then because there were no credit cards and people lived within their means. There was no state help if you fell on tough times, you just had to get on with it. Glad you enjoyed reading about MiL.

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  13. Your MIl sounds like quite the character.I do believe that people of that generation were thrifty. Joe's parents were the same and so naturally is Joe.

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    1. Dear Olive - to a certain extent thriftiness has come back, you and Joe are perfect examples. However, for MiL she did not really have any other choice. There was not a lot of money to spare in those days. However, it is amazing how much money she had managed to save by the time she died.

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  14. A very interesting character indeed. I can relate to a few of these traits I remember in my grandmother, she would be 117 is still alive. She lived to be 96.

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    1. Yes, I am sure a great deal of it is a generational thing. You have obviously got good genes, 96 was a very good age.

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  15. Dear Rosemary - Thank you for bringing MIL to life for us all. The image of her vacuuming brought a smile and a chuckle. I look at little traits of those in my own family who are no longer here and also see humor where there was once a bit of annoyance. It's all those little things that make us wonderfully individual.

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    1. Dear Mark - you are so right. Sadly we do not always appreciate the humour involved until it is too late. I hope that I have countered that a little with this post.

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  16. Such a beautiful story, lovingly told. I like her very much!

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    1. Dear Lisa - thank you that is such a sweet comment to make♥

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  17. Great to read your memories are so sweet.
    gr. marijke

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    1. Dear Marijke - so pleased that you enjoyed reading the post, and thank you for your kind comments about the memories.

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