My Dad wrote this for his ward newsletter this month. It made me cry... I thought I'd add it to my blog to share with you all...but also so I can make sure that I've got it tucked away to keep in the book that I make out of this blog.
The UPS Man
My mother-in-law died this week. Her name was Adele, and you can talk all you want about mother-in-law jokes or horror stories or whatever, but they didn’t apply to her. I loved my mother-in-law. I thought she was a grand lady, and she thought I was, well, just wonderful. Clearly, in my estimation (though perhaps not in others), I was her favorite son-in-law . That is ironic, because I don’t believe I was her first choice as husband for her daughter. Jason Barber was more handsome, for sure, and destined to become a presumably well-to-do lawyer in Florida. Still, my mother-in-law welcomed me into the family fold with outstretched arms and nary a regret when I showed up in Honeyville, Utah, in September 1972 to marry her daughter.
But that’s what she was—a welcomer and lover of souls. She adored her six children, of course, expressing her love for them freely and often, not only in person but also in the e-mails she wrote to keep in daily touch with her family. She looked after the young, down-on-their-luck Hispanic couple who lived in the little home to the side of hers, taking over jars of preserves and produce from her garden, and worrying if they were going to get by. And she looked in daily on Mildred, the little lady in her nineties next door, bringing her mail and newspaper to her each day, and hauling in her garbage cans after the big sanitation truck came by. While my mother-in-law was only a few years younger than Mildred, she didn’t see herself as old so much as blessed, and she felt a need to share what she could and help where she could. That’s why she loved Costco. When she bought things in the oversized packages at Costco, there was enough for herself and plenty to send home with a daughter or son, a grandchild, or a neighbor.
It wasn’t that she was trying to be a stellar member missionary; she hadn’t been to church in a while. But she welcomed her home teachers and visiting teachers, never quite knowing which were which, and never quite caring, because they were good company either way. Her tax accountant was her friend. Her investment advisor was her friend. The guy who took care of her car was her friend. The nice young man and his son who mowed her lawn were her friends. And I think every one of them had, more than once, been invited inside and fed at her kitchen table.
I didn’t know about the UPS man until the day of her graveside services. My mother-in-law found that shopping was easier using mail order catalogs and on-line buying services as she got older. She’d order her Christmas gifts and whatever other items she needed, and the UPS man would bring them to her. At the memorial service everyone in the rather large group of assembled folks introduced themselves: children, grandchildren, cousins, in-laws, dear friends from her growing up days in Brigham City, friends of family, and so on. One nicely dressed man, standing with his wife at the periphery of the large group said, “I’m her UPS man.” He said Ralph and Adele had had lots of deliveries over the years. He was the one who made them. He, too, had been invited inside for cookies or soup or warm bread or whatever else was simmering on the stove or baking in the oven that day. He, too, had been fed at my mother-in-law’s table. He, too, was numbered among her friends.
When the UPS man takes a day off work and drives eighty miles to Brigham City to pay his respects, you know that you have kept well the second great commandment to love your neighbor. A high compliment, Grandma Adele. We will sorely miss you. All of us.