December 3, 2012

Tribute To My Mother-In-Law

People often tell jokes about the 'dreaded' mother-in-law who interferes, doles out plenty of unwanted advice, and generally makes your life miserable. I don't know what your experience has been, but mine has proven to be quite the opposite. My mother-in-law and I have always had a great relationship from day one, and I cannot think of one incident in the last 37 years where we had a conflict. She has a wonderful sense of humour, is quite witty, has a perceptive judge of character, and has many wise Dutch sayings suited for the situation at hand. I have learned numerous valuable life lessons from her humble, godly example. She is a good illustration of a 'rare jewel of Christian contentment'. The service of the Lord was always her number one priority. 

Last week this dear woman suffered a massive stroke, and is now lying unresponsive, but still breathing, in a hospital. She often told me that even though I was dying of ALS, she could die before me, since she was 87 years old. She may be right. 

Her last words to me last week were "I love you ". She was not raised to say this, in fact, she said she never heard her parents ever say 'I love you' to her. She never doubted that she was loved, it was just never verbalized, but was demonstrated by actions. That was a different generation, and difficult for us to imagine. Perhaps it is being over used today, especially by the music and movie industry, causing a loss of some of its meaning and sincerity. 

Yet, in the last few years, we learned to say it to each other before leaving after a visit. They were the only words she could understand from me, since my speech is quite garbled, even at the best of times. She also wrote it in the birthday cards to her great-grandchildren, enclosing a $5 bill with it.

We love you mom VanderMeyden.


  1. Dear Jack, you are so blessed to have this dear woman as your mother-in-law. She is truly a saint worth emulating! She lives the text from Philippians 4:11, "for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." We have been blessed to know her as well. She is a true trophy of God's wonderful grace.

  2. What a lovely picture of your dear Mother in law!! I did not know her well personally, but remember her even as a little kid when London and St. Thomas Churches were still together. She always gave me such a serene impression as a person who was content. I always loved her sparkly eyes even a year and a half ago when I had a chat with her (in the bathroom :-) at a funeral. She was very shaky and instead of getting frustrated, she poked a little fun at herself and graciously allowed me to help her. I wondered what she was like as a little girl. Praying for you all as you deal with this difficult time. Ps. 46 - Jacqui and Jake VMS

  3. Dear Jack and Lena,
    I didn't know your Mother in law too well but one time I drove her home from the church (a wedding? I don't remember) and I got to know her a little better. I was thankful for the opportunity. She was "gezellig" and kind. For Sarah's 18th birthday she too got a card written in her squiggly handwriting and I think a $5 dollar bill but it may have even been more. (Sarah was so blessed with cards and monetary gifts that I don't remember them all anymore!) With Sarah not having her own Oma and Opa anymore I thought that was really special!
    May God see fit to take her home quickly and may God be with you all.

  4. We were so sorry to hear of this added sorrow in your lives. I never have gotten to know Mrs. Van der Meyden, but I must say that she never walked by without giving a sweet smile.