A tale of two mothers-in-law

Sunday is National Mother-in-law Day.
I’ve had two mothers-in-law and I loved them both.
The first, Dolores Smelster Sefchik, had a formal way about her but let her hair down enough around me that we remained close even after her daughter and I divorced. Our meetings, especially at Christmas time, were clandestine after that. I’d bring her a decadent box of Godiva chocolates and she’d have a merrily wrapped shirt and tie for me. I still wear some of those ties, more than 20 years later.
Dolores liked Christmas, especially her holiday record albums. I cannot hear Burl Ives singing “Holly, Jolly Christmas” without thinking of her.
Then there was my wife Mary Kay’s mom. Mary Saporito Hrab was an absolute hoot.
Everyone I ever met who knew Mary told me all she ever did was make them laugh. I could tell why. She had a keen, little-girl-like, self-deprecating sense of humor.
Mary was a diabetic but I always told my wife I’d never seen her eat like a diabetic. Once while waiting at her place for Mary Kay to arrive, she offered me a Girl Scout cookie, a lemon creme. She also took one for herself. Then she offered me another, and of course one for her. Then another. And another. And we stayed at it until the entire package was gone.
I was not a diabetic but feared I lapse into sugar shock myself. Mary, however, took it right in stride.
She did destroy the evidence before her daughter got there.
Mary Kay and I took her mom everywhere, including and especially a trip to London where she got to meet a niece she had never known. She was the daughter of Mary’s brother who had remained behind in Sicily when, long before Mary was born, their dad came to America. Mary’s niece was actually older than she and spoke no English, but, boy, did they get along.
Mary had a bad heart and that coupled with her diabetes made it almost impossible for her to get around an airport without a wheelchair. I had reserved one in advance at Heathrow Airport for our return trip and when we got inside the terminal, I found the area where several wheelchairs were parked with an attendant at a small desk.
I approached him and said, “I made arrangements to get a wheelchair for my mother-in-law.”
“Sounds like a pretty good trade to me,” he responded, his British accent making it even funnier.
I can still hear Mary laughing.

Ed Ackerman