As we turned the vehicle around and starting driving toward Thelma’s house. Suddenly, I got nervous, my hands were shaking and clammy and a host of questions started flooding my mind. “What will she think of me? Will she like me? What will she think about the fact I have children?”
Terry looked over, sensing my nervousness and said, “Oh, don’t pay too much attention to anything my mom says. She just spouts out without thinking sometimes and doesn’t mean anything by what she says. We won’t stay long, ok?”
We pulled up to 737 Buncombe Street and climbed out of the truck. Still shaking on the inside, I followed Terry to the door and stayed behind him until we were in the door.
There she was, sitting in the chair in the living room. The thick dark hair framed her semi-wrinkled face, her deeply recessed brazen brown eyes revealed a strong-willed independent woman; yet, despite the weathering of years, she remained an extremely attractive woman. “Hey Terry, who’s that with you?” she inquired.
“Thelma (as he commonly called her) this is Kelly.” he replied
“Oh, that’s the girl who kept calling. The one you and Marie keep talking about.”
After shaking hands with her, she invited me to sit down and talk. We talked the normal small talk first to break the ice. The conversation turned to her family, mainly she spoke of her deceased husband George (Terry’s dad). She talked about his passive gentle nature, his wittiness and her deep love for him. At this point, he had been dead almost 3 years. He died in the summer of ’91 with congestive heart failure. It was obvious that she missed him terribly. Fortunately for her, Terry being single, moved in shortly before George’s death and he provided companionship for her.
Then the conversation turned to me and the boys. She was genuinely interested in as many details about them as I could provide. However, I could sense an uneasiness developing with Terry as the conversation deepened, possibly fear of what would expel from her lips.
Finally he looked his nervousness got the best of him and he looked at me and said, “Ok. It’s time to go. I need to get you home.”
As I turned to shake her hand, she looked at me and said, “I can tell you really like my boy and he really likes you.” Surprised by her comment, I had no response but quietly in my mind I wondered, “How could she tell?” (What I would later learn was that my mother in law was a very perceptive individual and had a great sense of character judgement.)
To Terry’s relief, she had not been as abrasive as he had forewarned. In fact once we were in the car, headed back to my house, Terry said, “She likes you. I can tell.”
“How do you know?” I asked.
“If she didn’t like you, she would not have talked to you as much as she did. Believe me, you would know if my mom didn’t like you. She doesn’t hide her feelings well.”
She did like me and she readily accepted me and the boys as her own. There’s much to tell about the woman I was privileged to call my mother in law, but that’s a book itself. Suffice to say, on December 27, 2001 Thelma’s body succumbed to emphysema and I am very thankful and blessed that she was a part of my life for almost 8 years
Here is another blog post I wrote about Thelma, if you want to read it.