Thursday, March 19, 2009

Henny

There is no question that my mother-in-law Henny Scherer left us far too soon but perhaps we shouldn’t have been too surprised because the thing is, Henny never stayed put for long.

Henny was a whirlwind. She shopped. She cooked. She gardened. She painted the house. She took a short break for a cappuccino. She played tennis. She learned about computers and home renovations. She laughed. She loved. She lived with passion and verve and humor.

She was my inspiration.

I first met Henny on a Sunday afternoon almost 11 years ago shortly after I started dating her son Robert. I learned later that she had demanded it after my name had been repeatedly dropped at a family dinner the night before. Apparently she had turned to Robert and said “That’s enough – now who the hell is this Kelly?!”

She couldn’t have yet known that soon I would be her biggest fan.

There are two things that no one can deny. The first is that Henny’s sons Robert and Peter both married very strong and outspoken women. The second is that both Robert and Peter adored their mother.

I like to think that perhaps Henny’s sons see a little bit of their mother in both LeeAnne and I, but perhaps I flatter myself, because truly, Henny was an original.

Henny was born in 1935 in The Hague in the Netherlands. Much of her childhood was spent under Nazi occupation. She didn’t like to talk about those years but she allowed this: there was hunger, there was pain and there was the constant fear that her older brother Eugene would be caught and punished for his role in the underground resistance.

Eugene was eventually caught and his death in a concentration camp was followed a few years later by her mother’s death, of a broken heart, Henny said.

But Henny, the baby of the family was already showing the determination and the resilience that we associate with her all these years later. At the earliest possible opportunity she joined the Dutch air force and immigrated to western Canada. A few years later in Toronto the gorgeous Dutch girl met a dashing Austrian immigrant named Karl Scherer and fell madly in love.

When she dated Karl Henny worked as a flight attendant. She said they would routinely pile into his little car and break all land speed records trying to get her to the Toronto airport in time for work where she was supposed to board the plane a half hour before passengers.

They never made it on time. But they didn’t care: They were on Scherer time.

Scherer time, for those of you who don’t know, runs approximately a half hour behind everyone else’s time.

Rob says one of his earliest memories was of his mom driving him to school every day and breaking more land speed records in the process. He remembers that one day the priest came over the intercom and advised all the students to keep a lookout and report on a green Chevy Nova that was loudly peeling into and out of the parking lot every morning.

Rob says he remembers how his classmates’ eyes widened around him and a whisper rippled through the room – “THAT’S ROB’S MOM!”

Yes, Henny was always in a hurry. But that was only because she was determined to make every minute of every day count. She had no time to waste and no patience for wasted time.

Right up until Christmas Henny looked after my son Graham one day a week while I was at work. I grew accustomed to arriving home to find our grocery shopping done, our house cleaned, our windows washed and our lawn and garden tended. And as for our son? He would be thoroughly loved, thoroughly exhausted and thoroughly proud of his new found ability to swear in Dutch.

Yes, I was spoiled to have a babysitter like Henny. We were all spoiled because Henny loved and cared for her family with the same zest and enthusiasm she brought to every area of her life.

Henny’s grandchildren Jordan, Cailey and Graham were her pride and her joy. She loved them with a ferocity that was absolutely beautiful to behold. She went out of her way to make each of them feel special and spend time with them individually. She really considered their personalities and thought, really thought, about how she could best try and meet their emotional needs.

Henny was thoughtful that way with all of us. She was always thinking about what we might need and was often stopping by with groceries we were short of, incidentals we hadn’t had time to buy and clothing and small gifts that she thought we would enjoy.

As a newlywed I will admit that it took me some time to adjust to having a mother-in-law who was such a big part of my day to day life. But very soon, and especially after the birth of my son, I took it for what it was: a true blessing.

I already have a wonderful mother and I like to think it is she who taught me how to be a mother myself. But Henny became my second mother and she taught me something different. Henny taught me how to be a mother-in-law: she taught me that when you have a son, if you want to stay close to that son, you must open your heart and love his wife as if she were a daughter.

And so she did.

And I loved her back. And I am all the richer for it – we are ALL the richer for her love. Karl, Peter, LeeAnne, Robert and I and especially her grandchildren. Our family’s challenge from this day forward will be to continue to love one other the way she loved us.

And I think we will.

I think we will try and love each other with the same kind of passion that she had for us. Because that is what Henny would have wanted and everyone here knows that when Henny wanted something she usually got it.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that by now that all the souls in heaven – God, the angels and all the saints - they’re all running on Scherer time.

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63 comments:

Lee said...

That was a breathtaking tribute. What a tremendous woman, you were lucky to have known her. Must go wipe tears ...

sho said...

You delivered it perfectly.
You looked beautiful.
I'm sure she's eternally grateful to know she has such an amazing daughter in law and knows that Graham and Rob are in good hands! Forever...big shoes to fill, but you are the woman for the job.

mamatulip said...

What a beautiful tribute, Kelly.

RiverPoet said...

Kelly, that's a beautiful tribute to your mother-in-law. There is something so special that develops when we truly open ourselves up to these people who raised the ones we love. I will never forget watching my husband spoon pudding into my mother's mouth, open like a baby bird waiting for nourishment she was almost too week to swallow. She did it for him. He loved her, and she loved him. And that? Warms my heart to this day. He was another son to her. Like you were a daughter to Henny.

Sheona said she would be at your MIL's memorial service today. I hope she made it. She speaks very highly of you.

Peace - D

Holly said...

That was utterly breathtaking. Peace.

Katney said...

A wonderful tribute to an outstanding woman.

Kami said...

That is beautiful, so beautiful. Both her personality and her love shine through, as does yours.

And the message about loving your daughter in law like your own, I am taking that one to heart. I only have two sons... and I intend on staying close to them.

What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful woman.

Vered - MomGrind said...

You were blessed with an unusually positive mother-daughter-in-law relationship. It's amazing that you consider her your second mother.

No doubt it intensifies the pain you are feeling now, but wow, what a wonderful relationship to have had with such a strong, unique woman.

Kelli @ writing the waves said...

Such a heartwarming tribute. She sounds like she was an amazing woman.

Autumn said...

What a beautiful tribute Kelly. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

You have a way with words anyway, and this post was no exception. What an amazing relationship you've shared so poignantly.

Mandy said...

You are lucky to have had Henny in your life and she to have had you in hers.

Hugs.

JCK said...

Oh, Kelly...what a gorgeous, heartfelt post. I hope you submit this to the paper. It is an exquisite, personal tribute - yet one we can all feel through your beautiful words.

Laura said...

Simply beautiful. She sure will be missed.

HUGS!

Ellyn said...

A wonderful tribute to a special lady.

kgirl said...

This is really wonderful. I hope the rest of yours and Rob's family will hear it - I'm sure it would bring smiles and comfort.

sky girl said...

Oh my gosh. What a beautiful tribute. And of course I'm green with envy that you were blessed with such a MiL.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Such a beautiful memory for her... My heart hurts that you all had to lose her, but is grateful that you all had such a fabulous woman in your lives.

Lots of love for you all...

Michelle said...

((HUGS))
I have no words. Just tears streaming down my face. That was beautiful.

Karen MEG said...

Kelly, that was beautiful. I'm sure Henny loved it.

I don't think the challenge for your family to love and cherish your each other as Henny did will be difficult; in fact, I'd say you're already living up to it.

Love and hugs to you all.

Kat said...

What an absolutely perfect post! Just gorgeous. A tribute that I'm sure is making Henny smile with pride right now.

You have an incredibly powerful angel on your side now. :)

kbreints said...

What a beautiful tribute... I am sure she is proud!

Jaina said...

How absolutely beautiful. What a touching tribute Kelly. She sounds like she was a beautiful woman. My prayers are with you and your family. ::hugs::

Kelly said...

Beautiful post. Sounds like a beautiful woman!

InTheFastLane said...

What a tremendous loss to your family. I hope her spirit lives on.

Reluctant Housewife said...

Beautiful.

Elaine A. said...

She sounds like a spectacular human being and a wonderful Mother in Law.

And this is such a lovely tribute to her. I really enjoyed reading it.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a wonderful tribute to a one-of-a-kind woman.

Lisa said...

Oh kelly, that made me all teary! What a wonderful woman your Mother-in-law was! I'm sure she's smiling down, pain-free, at you, Graham & Rob from Heaven!!!

caramama said...

What a beautiful tribute! She sounds like she was such an amazing and wonderful person.

Corey~living and loving said...

This is an amazing post. You are so well spoken of your fabulous MIL. I'm extremely sorry to hear of her death, and will be thinking of you all.

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

What a beautiful tribute to Henny. I feel as if I know her just by reading this post. And I think she sounds like one heck of of a lday!

Woman in a Window said...

THAT was well put, right 'til the end. Lovely.

Damselfly said...

Henny sounds like quite a character -- I wish I had known her after reading your tribute. Blessings to your family....

motherbumper said...

This is a beautiful post Kelly, she was an amazing woman.

Headless Mom said...

Really lovely, Kelly. She must have been so proud of you.

Anonymous said...

that was so lovely! Thanks for sharing.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

What a blessing to have had her in your life! I know that her spirit is alive and well in you who loved her.
Again, I am so sorry for your loss, I can't imagine what you guys are going through and my heart and prayers are with you.

Chantal said...

Oh Kelly, I have been on holidays and just got around to reading. I am so sorry for your loss. You are all so blessed to have had her in your life. I can only dream of being as wonderful a mother in law as she was.

Lisa b said...

Kelly this is beautiful.

Angela said...

Beautifully written. What a truly special woman, and it is so wonderful that you recognized her special gifts and accepted them so gratefully and gracefully. I am so truly sorry for your loss, my thoughts and prayers go out to your family.

Beck said...

Oh Kelly - this was so beautiful and heart-rending and sad. I'm so happy for you, in a way, that you had her in your life and so, so sorry that you've lost her.

zelzee said...

Awesome woman
Awesome tribute

Awesome daughter-in-law

My deep sympathies to all

petite gourmand said...

what a beautiful post - very moving.

I'm so sorry for your loss

Stomper Girl said...

I'm so sorry to read of your family's loss. What a beautiful tribute.

Carmi said...

As the beloved denizens of heaven adjust to Scherer time, I'm certain that they, too, are reading your stunningly beautiful and heartfelt tribute and learning all they need to know about their newfound member.

From where I sit, she was incredibly lucky to have a daughter-in-law like you, too.

May you all know no further sorrows. May her memory always be a blessing to you.

Whitenoise said...

A very nice tribute, Kel. I'm sorry for your loss but happy that your life was made so much richer during those eleven years.

Loukia said...

My condolences to your family. What a beautifully written post. Memories last a lifetime...

Stacey said...

What a beautifully written post. Your MIL sounds like a wonderful woman. I am sure she will be sorely missed.

KELLY said...

That was so touching Kelly - beautiful. Having a great mother-in-law makes a world of difference (I have one too).

KELLY said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Crafty Mom said...

Beautiful, Kelly, I seriously had goosebumps when I read it. Perfectly written, oozing with all your talent and filled with love and compassion.

Janet said...

She sounds like an amazing person. I can only imagine how much you will miss her.

Ginaagain said...

What a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss.

Mr Lady said...

Kel, I am so sorry you've lost her. She sounds incredible.

Crystal D said...

What a wonderful picture you have painted. You are so lucky to have had her in your life. I am sure she will always live on in all of your family.

moosh in indy. said...

I want to name my next daughter Henny if that says anything.
xoxo

Melisa with one S said...

That was one of the most beautiful tributes to anyone that I have ever read. Just breathtaking.

Jennifer, Playgroups Are No Place For Children said...

What an amazing tribute to an amazing woman.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

Kelly, this is such a beautiful tribute to an equally beautiful woman.

My heart goes out to you all at this time of loss.

Lucia's Mom said...

awww, I'm so sorry. What a beautiful tribute, and what a sad story. My mom was diagnosed with cancer in September (when my youngest was 2 weeks old), and we're hoping for many more years with her. I need to remember to look on the bright side.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Gorgeous tribute. I find her story and character inspiring. Imagine the world if we all strived to be like your mother in law!

Barrie said...

What a wonderful heartfelt tribute. My throat is tight.