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Family Feuds
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It’s a tradition. Every Mother’s Day I take my mother-in-law to the nursery while my husband goes to her house and spades her flowerbeds. In addition to other flowers, this year she especially wanted two magenta geraniums. While she was outside the greenhouse I was busily going up and down the aisle. I could only find one magenta, and was determined to surprise her with two.

There was a woman standing on the other side of the wide flower table and I asked her, “Could you please look at the tag on that geranium in front of you and tell me the color?”

“It’s hot pick,” she replied.

“Bummer,” I said. “My mother-in-law wants two magentas and I can only find one.”

“Well get her this color and tell her to deal with it,” the woman said roughly.

“Really?” I asked surprised, but not angrily. “You want me to tell my 89-year-old mother-in-law to ‘deal with it?’ ”

She Hates Me

“Well,” she backed down, “maybe you like your mother-in-law. I can’t stand mine. I haven’t talked to her in five years. She hates me.” And with that, she walked away.

Several minutes later, outside the greenhouse, that same woman raced up to me, holding a magenta geranium. “I found one for you!” She said as she happily presented it to me. I was touched.

“You’re such a nice person!” I told her. “Why does your mother-in-law hate you?”

“Because I married her son.” Now the woman’s husband was standing beside her. He told me, “Mom hasn’t talked to me in five years, either….”

“I hope one day you can all work this out,” I told them. “Life is short, and she won’t live forever.” They both told me that they’d tried, but she wouldn’t respond to them in any way. I told them that I’d pray that she someday would.

How sad, I thought to myself as I left the nursery on that Mother’s Day. How sad that the mom would not accept the woman her son had chosen, and had shut down all communication with them. What a lonely Mother’s Day she must have had.

I vowed again that day, to never let anything come between my own child and me. To guide when I can, yet accept her and her decisions once they are made. To keep communication open. To love unconditionally. Because life really is too short.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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