Remembering My Mother-in-Law

This past week, we received the sad news that my wife’s mom, Violet Oliver, passed away quietly in her sleep while in hospice care. She was 80 years old. I remember when I first met her. My wife, Kumie, and I went to Albuquerque to pick her up at the train station. Kumie went on to meet her mom while I stopped off at the restroom. When I came out, I saw a lady with the same smile and the same sparkle in her eye as my wife, but who was not my wife. She asked if I was Dave and when I said yes, she introduced herself. It turned out, Kumie also needed to make a trip to the restroom and Violet was waiting for us.

The photo above was taken of Kumie and Violet the night my wife received her master’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1994. One thing I remember on that trip was giving Violet a copy of my first novel, The Pirates of Sufiro, to read. Like many members of a writer’s extended family, I think Violet was a little skeptical of my prospects. However, after she read the manuscript, she became an earnest supporter of my writing career. Her early support meant the world to me and she was always happy to share news of my writing accomplishments with her friends. When she had enough money, she even bought books for others and shared them.

She came out west several times. Notable visits happened soon after each of our daughters were born so she could help out and get to know her grandchildren. She was an avid reader and when she visited she would read to the girls. When she had quiet time, she could often be seen reading a book she’d brought with her. She was often opinionated about the books she read and she didn’t always agree with my assessment of some novels, but that only made me appreciate her support of my writing all the more. I knew she wouldn’t hold back if she hadn’t liked the writing.

I’m told Violet suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when she was a child and her parents were told she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 18. Despite the diagnosis, she remained mobile throughout her life until near the very end. Her willpower to keep going even when others didn’t necessarily believe she could proved to be an inspiration.

I’m sorry I won’t get another chance to talk about books, or family, or even just share another holiday with my Mother-in-Law. I hope she’s found peace and perhaps even a joyous reunion with those loved ones who passed on before her.

12 comments on “Remembering My Mother-in-Law

  1. rozepotpourri says:

    Very beautiful and touching story about your mother-in-law.

  2. I’m sorry to hear about your family’s loss. You’ve written a nice tribute.

    Whatever someone may believe about an afterlife, I think that people who influenced us, in a sense, live on through us. We are partially shaped by them, and we in turn help shape others.

  3. Carma Lynn Park says:

    Those are beautiful memories of your mother-in-law and your relationship with her. Not a celebrity or big shot, but a warm, loving, individual person who will be missed. Thank you for sharing these reminiscences.

  4. She sounds like a great lady.

  5. Janine Wanee says:

    I remember meeting your mother-in-law at your wedding. Along with Kumie. My deepest condolences to both of you. What a lovely tribute.

  6. Constance says:

    I am SO sorry to hear about the passing of Kumie’s Mom. She was always a lot of fun, and had great stories to tell. She loved your girls fiercely….and an will be praying for comfort for the whole family.

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