I had the best mother-in-law. Ruth Olsen was an Ann Arbor girl, raised by an old Norwegian guy who talked funny and bound books for all the UofM eggheads needing to publish their theses. She attended Ann Arbor High and graduated with no one famous, although my dear colleague George Thompson may have been close, but didn’t know her. Mother Gladys, from Iowa farm stock and sharing a birthdate with my wife, kept the family of 3 in line. Ruth went to Dental Hygienists school at U of M and there met husky, handsome Clutch Clark from Pittsburgh, destined for great things in Orthopedics. They eloped and went to a Michigan hockey game to celebrate. First son Bob was born at U Hospital but the greener pastures of Akron City Hospital took them to the Buckeye state where they defiantly proclaimed their maize and blue origins for the duration. A boy, Kathy, and another boy added to the domestic bliss on Silver Lake, with the company of one then two St. Bernards and a Siamese named Howard Cosell adding on. Kids excelled at sports, especially the girl. Clutch contracted pancreatic cancer and died tragically young at 48. Kids went away to school as Ruth faced a life alone. A brief stab at real estate didn’t pan out and she finally moved back to Ann Arbor where she could hang with her old school chums. With Kathy close by, they became closer. I got to enjoy exchanging zingers with her. Then an unexplained downturn in her physical capacities plus a little cough triggered an x-ray which found a big goombah. She was dead in 6 months, just as we were reentering our magnificently refurbished house, which her eyes for style would have surely appreciated. Her ashes sit next to Clutch’s on our bedroom bookshelf and I shall always revere them. Thank you Ruth for giving my dear wife life and nurturing her into the beautiful young woman I was so fortunate to snag. The older she gets, the more she looks like you. And that’s not a bad thing.
See Ruth, youngest son Jim, and first grandchild Orion early ’05. She’d be dead before the end of the year. Orion is a sophomore at U.C. Santa Cruz
5 thoughts on “my mother-in-law”
Wow, good, nay, shall I say great MILs are woefully underrepresented in literature!!
What’s a goombah?
The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world; and she did so excellently.
Merriam-Webster says its a pejorative term for people of Italian descent, derived from Italian dialect (Campania) cumbà, vocative form of cumbare respected older man, literally, godfather, from Medieval Latin compater. I always knew it as a term we docs used to describe a mass, whether detected by imaging or examination, usually large, and almost always a cancer. We’d usually draw out the second syllable for effect. Not a good thing. We only used the term among each other, never with patients. Curiously, M-W says the first recorded use of the word was in 1952, year of my birth.
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Wow!! Thanks for the word lesson. I love it!!
Very succinct and lovely, Dr. Many misfortunes but good issue.Would love to hear more…Mrs.Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
Maybe on your boat