112 years ago today, in 1898, Grace Elizabeth Harring was born. I have wonderful memories of her....she was my first mother-in-law. I actually knew her parents before I met her as our family were adjacent neighbours to them although she lived in the same street. We were at 524, her parents at 526 and she at 556.
I first met Grace in 1952 when I began dating her son. I didn't see her all that often as young people in those days didn't have their own cars and, by then, my family had moved further away so my boyfriend would ride his bike over nearly every night or weekend. When we went out we normally went by bus although on special occasions we did borrow his step-dad's car.
This dear lady had been widowed in 1940 when only 42 leaving her with an 18y.o. daughter and an 8y.o.son. Fortunately her daughter was working in an office but the son still had to be educated and the usual provisions were needed for a normal family life.
Grace had been trained as a dressmaker/tailoress so she took up that trade and worked from home to keep the 'wolf from the door'. She eventually met and married a fantastic man in 1946. He adored her and she him and my children (who had not known their true grandfather) loved him very much too, as did we all. He unfortunately died in 1970 leaving Grace once again on her own but this time well provided for. I think when Jim died part of her died as well.
Speaking of her prowess as a seamstress, she made my wedding gown and going away outfit when I married her son in 1953. My wedding outfit consisted of a strapless dress with a long-sleeved lace jacket. She made me laugh when she wanted to make the dress almost skin tight in case it fell down. I had quite a reasonable bust so there was no way that this could happen but, not having made strapless gowns before, I had trouble persuading her that all would be well. These clothes she made were beautiful and she even covered the tiny buttons that went all the way down the front of the lace jacket and also made a hat to be worn with the suit she had made me. While all this was going on she and I got to know each other extremely well.
13 years later her son and I separated and eventually divorced and one of the saddest things about that event was the fact that I didn't see many members of his family after that. Not having had grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins in Australia it had been great for me to become part of a larger family and I admit I did miss them.
In later years I did get to see Grace again for which I was very thankful and we still got on as well as we had previously. I was very sad when she became too ill to live in her home and had to move into a nursing home. We saw much less of her then.
I often think back and realise how glad I am that she was once part of my life. An ordinary Australian lady but she was gentle and kind in her own way and I don't think I could have asked for a better mother-in-law.
Grace passed away in 1986 at the grand age of 88. Memories of her are still very vivid in my mind.
FOOTNOTE: My second mother-in-law lived in England so we never met but she and I used to correspond regularly and we too I think would have got on well had we been able to get to know each other better.