When I think of my mother-in-law as a younger woman, before she became too sick to enjoy life properly, I think of a force to be reckoned with. A strong woman who knew her mind and loved her family and didn’t wait for things to happen for her. She was so proud of her children and in those healthy days, travelled around to visit them, going so far as London, England.
As a mother-in-law, Hettie was initially a little intimidating for a young bride like me, entering into marriage with her only son. My first time meeting her was when she and Eric came back from a winter in Florida to find me, having spend most of the winter with Chris,firmly situated into his life as a girlfriend. I was so nervous meeting Chris’ parents that day. And when we all walked in the front door at Lloyd Crescent, the first thing she did was scan the house to check out if it was clean, keenly running her eyes around the rooms and then taking a finger to run it along the top of a picture frame to see if there was dust, thereby checking to see if Chris had taken proper care of the house in their absence.
She and I had our moments of typical in-law struggle in those early years for sure, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that she was a strong woman who fiercely loved her family and had only kindness in her heart.
It wasn’t too long into our marriage that Hettie started to get really sick and from then on it has been a long road for her and her family of hospitals and sickness and pain.
Instead of focusing on all that, I like to think of Hettie coming into St. John’s for her nursing training from a small town. I would love to have a glance of her in action back in those days. Hettie was so proud to be a nurse and loved her nursing friends.
I like to think of her and Eric as a young couple moving around from Labrador, to Corner Brook to St John’s with Eric’s job as a radio operator. Hettie acted as a midwife in Labrador and delivered her share of babies, getting around on a snowmobile. Not for the faint of heart!
I remember meeting one of the Montreal cousins many years ago, and she recounted to me how she would come to Newfoundland during the summers and she appreciated how loving Hettie and Eric were to each other. She recalled how sweet they were together cuddled up in bed together in the early mornings. I love to think of that.
I like to think of her as a vibrant member of the Hants Harbour seniors community, dressing up in costume and putting on pageants, walking around the harbour with the other Hants Harbour ladies and heading into the seniors center for a sale or organizing the Willow Tree Heritage Museum.
Hettie thank you for raising a wonderful son who is an incredible Dad and wonderful partner. You are finally at peace, hopefully having a cup of tea with those who have gone before you.
Much love and respect.