I haven't written too much about my mother in law. She passed away last spring and left a big hole in many lives, especially those of her children. She loved her children, she loved her community and she loved watching birds, especially cardinals. And since we all knew she loved cardinals, we all bought her cardinals. She had cardinal shirts and figurines, clocks, cups, pictures on her wall. Personally I would have thought she might have gotten tired of them, but she didn't.
Yesterday I was at the craft fair and I saw a beautiful cardinal carving. My first thought was that would be a perfect gift for Mavis for Christmas. And then I remembered, I wouldn't be buying gifts for her anymore. She was not my mother, but she was a very good mother in law, and I loved her. I loved that I could call her with questions about canning or something she had cooked or who was related to who, and she always took the time to instruct me. I loved that even when we didn't agree she never belittled me or became contentious. I loved that she was one of the few people who encouraged me to stay home to raise my children. And it makes me sad that I have to cross her name off my Christmas list. Now every time I see a cardinal I think of her. It makes me sad, but it is also a nice thing to think of.