Archived Story

The Other Mother a tribute to Marguerite C. Wilson

Published 6:12pm Friday, January 24, 2014

This tribute to my mother-in-law, Marguerite C. Wilson, was published in the Tryon Daily Bulletin on Mother’s Day, 2002.
I have written about my mother and the mother of my children. Now I want to tell you about the mother who was part of the package when I married. A marriage joins two families, not just two people, for better or worse, and all have a part in determining which it will be.
Fran’s mother Marguerite was a civilian employed by the USAF in the same Texas Headquarters in which I was responsible for the group of artists who did the graphics to help the officers run the Air Force. Marguerite was sent, several times, to try to get Sgt. Goodwin to make the changes her office wanted.
Meanwhile, Fran had been telling her with some enthusiasm about this Garland guy that she had met in the youth group at church. There was an element of mystery about him, for he had a car and most Baylor students did not. After some time, Fran arranged for me to meet Marguerite in the coffee shop at work, and Marguerite suddenly realized that Garland and Sgt. Goodwin were the same person. She handled it very well, though, and began a program to prepare two kids for setting up housekeeping in a far country.
After asking her father for her hand, I took Fran to California, where she toiled at a job to supplement my GI Bill, and turned our little rented cottage into a great meeting place for my fellow students and me to do homework together. I feel that I made an excellent choice in Fran, but our mothers were not so sure at first. I guess all mothers hope that their offspring will do better than that.
Fran was helping her working mother to raise her three much younger brothers when I took her away. We never asked for any money or advice, and though I am sure all felt that we needed both, they did not offer it. Fran’s folks did have Sears bring out a washing machine for us when we got our first house, and they brought the boys with them periodically to visit. We kept each of her brothers in turn for a summer when they reached about twelve years of age, so I guess they felt that we were becoming satisfactory parent material.
Marguerite is one smart lady, and her mother Zoe was, too. They found ways of sharing their hard-won knowledge born of experience without appearing to do so. A lot of letters came and went, but we began to use the telephone sometimes. If we called Zoe, her first question was always “What’s wrong?” since the long distance was not to be used frivolously. She finally was resigned to our calling just to wish her a Happy Birthday.
Marguerite calls us fairly often now, but she always puts a three-page note` in anything she mails to us. She is so interested in everything that she has to tell us about it, and she asks enough questions to assure a reply. I have to send her the whole issue of the Bulletin when it has one of my columns, so when she comes to visit she knows everybody and what is going on here. She wants to be taken to see this and that, specifically, because she has read about it. She sends clippings about everything so that we can be up on things, too.
Now she wants a computer so she can do e-mail and surf the Net.
I am truly grateful for having another family, especially since most of mine is gone. No one goes to Texas in the middle of summer by choice, but all of my immediate family made the trek to help celebrate Marguerite’s 85th birthday last June. She received us kindly, and the rest of her family did, too. I never feel like an “in-law” there, for by her example, Marguerite’s family has become my family. I am son and brother and uncle and cousin and . . . Happy Mother’s Day!
Marguerite celebrated her 97th birthday last June 18th in Columbus NC with Fran and me. A few weeks later, back home in Brownwood, Texas, an aggressive cancer was discovered that took her life on Jan. 23, 2014.
I used to say that she knew everyone of importance in Texas because she either went to school with them or worked with them. She outlived them all and requested that no public services be held to mark her passing.
But a whole lot of people are sure going to miss her!

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