Sometimes life is hard, actually sometimes it just sucks! My sweet mother-in-law, Madalyn, died last Saturday. She was sick, and nobody could figure out how to make her well; and we are heartbroken. It's so surreal and weird right after someone who is such an integral part of your life is no longer there in physical form. Listening to stories about her, I learned quite a bit this past week. From what I understand, she could be quite a feisty lady in her younger years. I've known Madalyn for almost 26 years, and I may have seen a little feistiness; but what I know is this:
she was kind and gentle and caring! She loved us unconditionally and would do ANYTHING, I mean ANYTHING, for us! She loved me from the start as her own without hesitation and always embraced the relationship that NPayne and I share. When we found out we were expecting our first baby, my mom said...."Now I am not going to be a built in babysitter", and Madalyn happily chimed in with...."I will". Of course once Addi was born, my mom's tune quickly changed; but Madalyn already knew. She loved hard and hearty and wholly, and it was the kind of love that filled you to the brim so full you could explode. I honestly cannot remember a time that I saw her angry....in 26 years....I don't remember seeing her angry. I get angry about 26 times/week, so this is something I have always admired in her. She is where NPayne and Addi get their laid back and easy going disposition, and where B gets her love of life and joyful spirit (and her nose ;)). We were driving to NPayne's sister's house today to visit with the family, who came in town for the funeral, and I found myself thinking of something I needed to tell Madalyn when we got there; and then I remembered....
Adjusting to the new normal is never easy, and it's oftentimes unpleasant and very very hard, but I know it happens. Things will never be the same, they just won't. NPayne's Uncle Don wrote something about Madalyn that I think describes the kind of person she was perfectly. Uncle Don is NPayne's dad's brother, Madalyn's brother-in-law. NPayne's dad died when he was 13 months old, and Madalyn didn't talk about him much. I don't think it was because she didn't want to, but it was because it was just too difficult. Over the years, we had learned a lot about him from Uncle Don. I knew the person she was, but if you didn't; you would by reading what Uncle Don wrote about her.
Here it is:
I will try to make this as brief as possible, but it is difficult to tell, in a short synopsis, of what Madalyn did for me.
I was the caregiver to my brother, Al, from the age of 12 to 17. Madalyn and her mother, sister, moved into the duplex apartment my mother rented. She was engaged at that time to a military soldier serving in Viet Nam. When he returned from Viet Nam they broke off the engagement, and she began spending more time with Al. She would feed him, watch TV, and talk.
In June of 1960, they married. Up until that time, I was going to graduate from High School and continue to care for Al. But, because Madalyn had come into our lives, my future changed. She committed herself to care for Al, and she did so for the next 12 years until his death in 1972. I cannot think of another woman that would give up her life to care for a man in my brothers condition. In all the years she cared for Al, I cannot remember a single time she ever complained. They had a wonderful life together, and had three amazing children, Melody, Melinda, and Neil.
I look back over the past 55 years of my life, and I realize that everything I have accomplished, is because a woman named Madalyn stepped in, and took over my duties as caregiver. For that I will be eternally grateful. She gave my brother a quality of life that I, nor any other person could offer. Al was totally paralyzed, could not breath without the use of a rocking bed and chest respirator, could not feed himself, but one thing he could do was let you know he was the master of the house, and Madalyn just went along and let him think he was.
Madalyn was a truly wonderful, caring, and remarkable woman, a woman that took on a challenge no other would attempt to even consider, and I cannot begin to put into words what that meant to me. So--Thank you Madalyn, I probably didn't tell you as often as I should have, how much I loved you. You gave me my life, and my brother a life he could never have imagined. I look at my wife, my children and grandchildren, and realize how different my journey would have been if you had not come into my life. I look at Melody, Melinda and Neil, and your grandchildren and realize that Al's journey would most certainly have taken a different path, had you not come into his life.
Thanks for everything you did.