Love can be found in many places. Places you'd never really expect. Love that once gone, you are surprised at the impact it really did have.
I've experience just that this past week. While I truly loved this person - this crazy, cat loving, wine drinking, (sometimes mean) hilarious southern woman - I never truly realized the impact that she had on me until now. So many tears. So many more to come.
I met Mrs. Loraine Martin Duffey 25 years ago. She was my then-boyfriend's MOTHER. Oh gosh. Meeting the MOTHER. To say this gently - she HATED me. Me. Who was I to come in to the picture and take her first born son from her? Fast forward just a few months and that mean old woman started to like me. Somewhere along the way she began to love me. (I have cards and letters to prove it). Those first few months grew to years, and then decades. She became more than my Mother-in-Law. She became a Mom. I turned to her over and over through the years needing advice. Sometimes she gave great advice. Sometimes the only advice I'd get was - "Don't let the cat out!" I'm laughing and crying at the memories.
This absolutely beautiful soul also grew to love Jesus during the time I knew her. One day, years prior, she had given me a Bible for Easter. When she handed it to me - she said - "You know you can't live your life by that book." How happy I was when I learned that she no longer believed those words. She then became such an advocate for Christ. So much so that she drove me crazy sometimes. (I wouldn't have it any other way). Preach it, Lo.
In the end, we realize that the only thing in life that truly matters is the people around you. In the Bible, Jesus loved. He just did. There was no stipulation on whom He loved, or how much He loved. It didn't matter if they were related by blood. He loved them all equally. That is how we are called to live. To love. Doesn't matter who - family, friends, and yes - even Mothers in Law.
And sometimes, life happens. Changes happen. This woman, through the years, became my EX Mother in Law. In my heart of hearts - there was never, ever an EX in that title. She was, and is, and will always be - my Mom.
Time goes by too fast. Love those around you. No matter their title. Love your friends as if they are family. Because they are. We as Christians will be spending eternity with them. That, my friend, is FAMILY.
To my dear sweet Lo. My Mom. Grammy Lo. Crazy Cat Lady. We love you. We will miss you. And we will never, ever forget to not let the cat out.