A Mother's Day letter for my Mother-in-law

A Mother's Day letter for my Mother-in-law

Heather texted me the other day, “It was ten years ago today, Mom….that Grandma died.”  I said, “I know…it has been a long time.”

Mom Leitheuser,

Sometimes it feels longer than ten years since you’ve been gone and other times it feels like yesterday. Your death hit me harder than I ever imagined it would and there are so many things that still remind me of you…

I have been known to tear-up in the aisle of CVS at Easter time with a bag of starburst jelly beans in my hand…because they were your favorites.

I now know that Christmas doesn’t officially begin until Santa Clause comes into Herald Square because that’s the way it was for you as a little girl growing up in NYC.

Because of you, I have a set of plastic jewelry for each holiday on the calendar, something I didn’t fully appreciate until after you were gone.

I’m silly now…as I get older, I so appreciate how giddy you would get at every holiday. This is probably because I’m moving into the “Grandma in training” phase of my life.

I appreciate that you brought me plants even though you knew I would neglect them…you were persistent and I finally understood their beauty and importance.

I appreciate that you worked miracles on the other side so Don could fight the Leukemia and live through the transplant, knowing that none of us could live here without him.

Heather is going to start dancing again….something I know you are happy to know. It has been rough for her, but I think things are finally looking up.

She’s getting married—Heather is getting married, Mom, and she can’t wait to wear your pearls on her wedding day. She misses you…all the kids do. They miss your jelly beans and your advice and your special “grandma and me” days.

Kristin is a strong, no nonsense gal who can’t wait to “get out of dodge” and move back to Brooklyn! I see your spunky, adventurous spirit in her. She is as independent as they come, but with respect for how important spending time with her family is—she gets that from you too.

Don and Joanne went to your grave yesterday, as they always do the day before Mother’s Day (you will forgive me for not being there…I was wedding dress shopping with Heather). It was pouring rain so they didn’t have their traditional picnic lunch with you, but still managed to clean up the site quickly.  We all know you’re not “there,” but it feels good to take care of that space as you always did for Don, Sr. I am so glad that you are both buried there, together.

I woke up this morning to see everything so lush and green. Birds are fluttering about the bird feeder outside my bedroom window—it is spring, with all of its glory and promise. It came to me when I was looking down from the second story window; the lilac bush, it is in bloom and the scent outside of our window is divine! It’s you, I know it is and it came to me: after you died, I filled the house with all the blooms from that bush…because the lilacs, they were always your favorites.

I think you left us in mid-May because you knew…you knew we would be reminded of you every year when the sweet smell of lilacs filled the air. Today, I am going to pick a bouquet of them for the Mother’s Day table…so you can be here with us.




The lilac bush seen from my bedroom window

                                       The lilac bush seen from my bedroom window



Purple lilacs mean…first emotions of love.



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