Two Mothers

by | May 8, 2015 | Death, Mother's Day

Georgia – who at that time was my fiancé – and I rarely saw her parents. We lived in Halifax. They were seven hundred and sixty miles away in Montreal. Our meetings were few, but it was clear to me, I would have no use for mother-in-law jokes. Theresa was pure gold. I loved her instantly.

My father-in-law was more of a challenge. Tibor had an overbearing personality, which he used to hide a soft heart. Few grew close enough to see his tenderness. I like to think I was one who did.

Theresa and Tibor had a rough life. They immigrated to Canada during the Hungarian revolution. With two young girls in tow, they crossed a heavily guarded border into Austria and from there, immigrated to Canada, a country they knew little about. They sought peace and found it in Montreal.

My mother-in-law suffered with cancer for a long time. In the years before I met Georgia, Theresa had both of her breasts, part of her stomach, and one lung removed. A tumor lay deep in her remaining lung – rare for a non-smoker. Chemotherapy kept the tumor small, but we knew her time was short.

One summer, they visited us in Halifax. We left their hotel room on the last night of their visit. I glanced back. Theresa stood in the hall, staring after us. Her look of sorrow brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I knew what she thought, “Will this be the last time?” It wasn’t the dying that scared her; it was the uncertainty of when.

I stopped my Georgia and made her wait. I walked the distance to that small woman and hugged her tight. “Mom,” I whispered, “You hang in there. Come back for the wedding. I want you there.”

The day of the wedding was hectic but joyous. Georgia and I stood face-to-face and said our vows. There was a tremble in my voice as I said mine. We were pronounced man and wife. I hugged my new bride, took her arm, and walked her down the aisle and into our future.

Later, my mother-in-law said, “Michael, I heard your voice and saw your chin tremble. I knew you meant every word.”

At the reception we sat at the center of the head table. Numerous calls we made for us to show signs of affection. Someone would strike a spoon against the side of a glass. Everyone joined in. The clattering of spoons against glass grew. Georgia and I rose to our feet and kissed tenderly as our guests cheered.

It was time for speeches. When it was my turn, I stood, turned, faced my new father-in-law, and raised my glass in the air. “Tibor, thank you! I thank you for your courage. Many years ago, you made a decision to flee your homeland, cross a guarded border, and make your home in Canada. This lady beside me was born in a far-away country. And now sits beside me as my wife. It was your strength and courage that made this possible.” With a trembling voice, I continued, “Tibor, thank you for giving me your daughter.” The room was quiet, except for a few muffled sobs.

The afternoon flew by. Georgia and I danced and hugged. Our friends congratulated us. At one point, I managed to find my mother-in-law alone. I crouched beside her chair and said, “Mom, you made it. I’m so glad you’re here.”

She hugged me, “Michael, I am very happy. All I ever wanted was to see Georgia settled. Today saw it happen. I can go in peace.”

“Mom, hang in there.” I said. “I want you to see your grandchildren.”

She looked at me doubtfully. “I’m happy now. I don’t expect to see my grandchildren.”

I held her. “You’ll see them, Mom. I just know you will.”

After the ceremonies, Georgia and I left for our hotel. I opened the door to our suite, turned, lifted my new wife in my arms, and turned to the door. It closed softly in our faces. I put her down, reopened it, picked her up again, and turned in time to watch it close again. I propped the door open with a trash can. I lifted Georgia in my arms, turned and watched the heavy door push the trash can aside and close again. A crowd gathered.

They stood at their doors and watched in amusement as I failed time-after-time.

“Michael! Never mind! Let’s go in!” Georgia said. She didn’t want the attention.

“Hun, it’s my duty to carry you across the threshold, and darn it, I’m going to do it.”

I left her in the hallway, entered the room, and slid a heavy chair against the door.

I returned once more, picked her up, and carried her into the room. Those gathered, cheered and clapped. The clamor in the hall dimmed as the door closed a final time. I took my wife into my arms and into my life.

My mother-in-law did live to see her granddaughter. Thirteen months later, our daughter was born. Tibor and Theresa drove from Montreal. Tears spilled down Theresa’s cheeks. A year later, she passed on and lives forever in our hearts and memories.

Georgia passed away October 10th, 2003. She’s with her mom now. Two wonderful moms are together for eternity.


Two Mothers