Saturday, December 7, 2013


The first time I ever heard the term wife-in-law was in 1968. I had moved to Des Moines and scored a job at Airline Textiles and Gun Club Sportswear, aka, The Bob Allen Company. The building was new that year, located at 214 SW Jackson. It was close enough to our apartment on SW Davis that I could walk to work.

My position was accounts payable and assistant to the comptroller, Claude Fothergill. The woman I replaced had resigned to start a family after working to put her husband through law school. I shared a small office with Claude - one of the nicest, most helpful, mentors I ever had. The majority of the accounting staff was accounts receivable, sales and customer service and they all sat out in a big room.

Airline Textiles produced travel bags and accessories for the airline industry. Gun Club Sportswear made hunting clothing. The founder of the companies was an accomplished skeet shooter. His wife was a former airline stewardess, hence the two manufacturing entities.

The woman who introduced me to the term, wife-in-law, was a very bitter mother of two teenage girls whose husband had left her for a younger woman. She was always complaining about him, the divorce, child support and the other woman, whose name she would never speak. Instead she would refer to her in a scathing, pseudo-sweet voice as "my wife-in-law". If someone asked, "your what?" She would say, "Well, what else should I call her? She married my husband, so doesn't that make her my wife-in-law?"
Even though I had never heard the term before, it's use is documented in writings as early as the the first part of the 20th century.

I have had two wives-in-law and never felt bitter or mean about either one. In fact, I quite like(d) them both. Kenny's second wife, Marlene, was always friendly toward me and as far as I know a good step-mother when my son stayed with his Dad.

My husband's first wife has been my "wife-in-law" the longest, twenty-eight years. We have always gotten along, been friendly to one another and shared birthday parties and other social events.

The only times I have had jealous feelings about her were because of my step-son, never over her/my husband.

You see, I love my step-son as my own. I admit to being jealous of his relationship with his Mom. I only ever wanted to feel that I was that special to him, fully knowing that wasn't logical.

Today my thoughts are of Alice and what a lovely, warm, thoughtful, friendly, kind, talented, independent woman she was. And my heart is with my son, Mark; aching for him as he copes with the loss of his Mom.

I really like this photo of Mark & Alice that my son-in-law, Ken, took a few years ago in California. I am so glad I never felt bitter toward my "wife-in-law". Rest in Peace, Alice.

1 comment:

  1. I read this on my phone a few days ago, and the mobile app wouldn't let me comment. I just remembered to come back and say this is very sweet, Mommy. It made me tear up. Hugs and love all around!