The Best Mother-in-Law Ever

I’m way behind.

If 2015 was a pleasure cruise, 2016 is a freight train. It’s been roaring in, fast and furious, with what I believe will be many good things. But for now, I’m just trying to apply the brakes for a bit.

There are many events I’ve wanted to write about. The longer I put it off, the more thoughts inside me are building up. It’s time. I need to start.

We got a call while at a party on New Year’s Day, in the evening. Howard dropped everything and went to be with his sisters and his mom, who was not doing well. She was failing fast and they knew it was time. Thankfully, he was able to arrive in Fresno before she passed away in the first couple of hours of January 2nd. She was born 4 days before my dad, on September 21, 1921. She was 94.

Audrey was a very special person to me. When I met her, back in 1980, I liked her instantly. I knew my new friend, Howard, came from good stock. His parents were good people. My mom always told me that you don’t marry the man, you marry the family, too. I liked this family. And that’s good. Because I really liked Howard.

She was always kind and thoughtful. I know that her son could have married a better housekeeper, but Audrey either seemed to understand me or was very good at forgiving me for my failings. She never made me feel like I was lacking. She simply dived in to help when she was visiting. Always ready to hold a baby, to fold laundry, to help cook.

She was one of the most positive people I know. She battled breast cancer in 1983, and I don’t think I can recall one day when she wasn’t more concerned about everyone else than she was about herself. She just gave of herself all the time. She made it through that tough time, and I think that positive spirit fueled her recovery. I learned a lot from her.

My parents became friends with Audrey and Will, my father-in-law,who passed away in 2007. It was just another thing I loved about my in-laws. It’s as if Howard and I got to be ‘match makers’ in the friends department. They did things together…without us.

Audrey made the most amazing lemon meringue pie. I didn’t realize how good it was until I tasted other lemon meringue pie. Audrey made hers from scratch. It was the best. She always said she was a ‘plain cook’, nothing fancy, mostly meat and potatoes. And I will give her that, there were not a lot of exotic meals. But oh, was her food good! And there was always plenty of it. You could not go hungry when you were at Audrey’s house.


We were going to my brother’s house in Chico for Christmas this year, so we made a trip to Fresno on the 16th of December to have a little Christmas dinner-in-advance. This would give us time with Audrey, and Howard’s sisters, Heidi and Nadine. It turned out to be a busy time for my business, although we don’t normally get really busy until about the 20th. Howard said he understood if I couldn’t make it. It would mean 6 hours travel time alone, in addition to our visit. I told him there was no way I would miss this. That’s why I have a staff. Family is important to me. And she was the last parent we had. I’m really glad I went. Rory was home from school for Christmas break and she got to come too. We are pictured above on that day. It was our last day together.

Sweet, wonderful Audrey Ann Tank, rest in peace. I loved you so much.

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