Wednesday, January 30, 2019


This is not her car, but it might as well have been.

(Reworked from several old posts & some recent memories.)

My mother-in-law, Audrey, used to work at the Los Angeles County Courthouse.  She drove her car to work & parked in a lot on a hill & walked down a flight of stairs to get to the sidewalk.  She parked as close to the stairway as possible.  One day she got the very best space--right in front of the stairs!  She went to work & when she got back to the parking lot she found her car waiting for her.  Not at the top of the stairs, but at the bottom!  It had come down the stairs on its own.  She said she must have forgotten to set the parking brake, but I think it just got tired of waiting for her to come back.  Amazingly enough (to you, but not to those of us who knew Audrey) she got in & drove it home.  That was the last time she ever drove.  I guess she figured a bus wouldn't go looking for her.  

Bud & I started dating shortly before I was 16 & married when I was 20.  We became engaged when I was 18.  Many mothers feel that no girl is good enough for their son.  We spent many nights at his folk’s house watching TV.  Audrey would say, “You shouldn’t just sit around the house.  Why don’t you go to a movie--go bowling--get married?”  Do you remember hope chests?  She gave me a gift for my hope chest every month that we were engaged.  She gave me almost all of our sterling silver & I have service for 12.

A side note on silver: When Audrey & my father-in-law, Phil, were engaged they went together to pick out their silver.  She looked at the patterns.  He “weighed” them in his hand.  They got the heaviest pattern that she would agree to.  I guess he figured they might have to melt them down to pay for groceries someday.

She was brilliant.  She graduated high school at 15, went to college & law school--& had to wait to take the bar exam because she wasn’t yet 21.  There weren’t very many openings for female attorneys in those days, so she decided to take the civil service exam so she could get a job as a court clerk.  The exam consisted of many, many questions--most of them having no bearing on her prospective job.  She was not prone to sarcasm or profanity, but I guess she had had enough when she got to the question: “If the distance from the earth to the moon is approximately 1,256,640,000 feet & a ball of string has 750 feet of string, how many balls of string would it take to reach from the earth to the moon?”  Her answer was “Balls & balls & balls--& that goes for the rest of your damn questions, too!!”  I guess she was right.  She got the job.

Reading & education were very important to her.  She offered to pay for any education for her children, their spouses & her grandchildren--& was often taken up on that offer. She read voraciously & often bought books as gifts.  She wrote a book for each of my kids when they were little.  She never had them published, but she did have them printed & bound.  (An excerpt from "I, Matthew":  "Matt's mother got him a very short haircut.  His mother called it a crewcut.  His grandmother called it a shame.")

My friend Bonnie & my very prim & proper (appearing) mother-in-law, Audrey, were among our guests at a formal luncheon.  I don’t think they had met before.  They were sitting next to each other.  Something gooey, chocolaty & decadently delicious was served for dessert.  Bonnie tasted it & said without thinking, as she was prone to do, “My God, this is better than sex!!” & was instantly embarrassed because of who her luncheon partner was.  She fell in love with Audrey when she smiled & replied, “Yes, it is--& you don’t have to wash up afterwards, either!!”

Audrey developed diabetes later in life.  I took her to her first visit with an endocrinologist. He asked her what her stool looked like.  Her response; "I never look!!"  The doctor wanted her blood sugar checked regularly.  She refused to prick her finger & learn to use a blood glucose monitor.  We lived about 5 minutes from them & since I have diabetes myself, I had a monitor & offered to come over twice a week & check her sugar.  She agreed, but ONLY if she could pay me $5.00 a visit.  I once asked her how many daughters-in-law she thought were invited to come to their mother-in-law’s home on a regular basis, cause her pain & get paid for it?  Not too many, I’d bet!

When one of her grandsons was married she & Phil, my parents & 2 other couples, all of whom were married 50+ years, were sitting at one table.  When the groom came to visit their table she told him, “Glenn, look at us.  If this doesn’t scare you, nothing will!”

Her standard answer to “How are you?” was “Splendid!”  She was not one to give (or listen to) an “organ recital”.  That’s what she called it when you ask people how they feel & they tell you about their kidneys, liver, etc.

We took Audrey & Phil to the World’s Fair in Vancouver in 1986.  We knew it would be difficult for her to walk around, so we rented motorized scooters (like they show on TV for the handicapped) for her & Phil.  He liked it but she was too embarrassed to use it until Bud & I rented two for ourselves.  What fun it was to buzz around in those!

I remember 2 cars she owned, “Hadda” & “Shasta”.  Audrey considered the names logical.  One always “Hadda” have this or that fixed & the other--well, “Shasta” have gas & oil, doesn’t she?

I’ve always felt that God played the ultimate joke on Audrey when she died.  She was always very modest about her body.  One evening she got up from the living room sofa where they were watching TV & told Phil she had to go to the bathroom.  When she didn’t come out after a reasonable time he went to check on her.  She had had a sudden heart attack & died quickly & quietly while using the “facilities”.  We told him to call the paramedics & rushed over.  This modest lady’s body was seen sitting on the toilet by her husband, son, daughter-in-law & 2 paramedics.  She said she had to go--& she did!  Bud & I almost found ourselves in the position where we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  She was 88 years old.  Audrey & Phil had been married 64 1/2 years. 

Her engagement picture:

Some cartoons that might be more suited to 
someone else's mother-in-law than mine:

Audrey, I hope you got a laugh out of this----fishducky