Feb 13, 2020
35+ Years without One Cross Word or…
Nancy Hunter Stiegemeyer – 92 – of Cape Girardeau, Mo passed away at 11 PM on February 11, 2020. She is survived by one daughter – Blondie – three sons … five grandchildren … three awesome great-grandchildren … and one smart-aleck son-in-law with his very own website.
Mother-in-law jokes have been a staple of comedy routines since Henny was a Young Man. There must be some truth to the stereotype of mothers-in-law being a burden / curse that many sons and daughters-in-law’s must bear to join a family via the bonds of matrimony.
I cannot speak to that from any personal experiences over the past 35+ years. In the same way I cannot speak to how difficult it must be to learn Mandarin Chinese… cook a souffle … or bungee jump blindfolded. I have no personal experiences with those either.
Over the 35+ years that I was The Best / Only son-in-law that Nancy Stiegemeyer ever had. She and I never had a cross word… a disapproving glance… or the slightest indication that either of us had “issues” with the other.
OK, I never confirmed that from her POV, but I have no reason to assume otherwise.
Unless one is (1) a jackass sports fan i.e. “a board monkey”… or (2) a goggle-eyed, spittle-spewing liberal lunatic, I am a pretty easy-going fellow to get along with. Nancy was certainly neither of those yucky sorts at all.
Nancy was a very accommodating, Hail-Lady-Well-Met. Much loved and admired by all who knew her allowing for the likelihood of those 1-2 lifelong enemies we all seem to acquire somehow.
A widow for the past 28 years, Nancy lived in the same home on Camellia Drive in Cape Girardeau, MO where she and Bob raised their daughter and three sons. Seven years ago, macular degeneration and various aging-related mobility issues necessitated her moving to a progressive assisted living center only a mile from the home for 55 years.
For a voracious reader like Nancy was all her life… macular degeneration is as cruel an affliction has can be imagined. She dealt with it.
Nancy’s final years were a familiar experience to ones I’m sure many of you have gone thru. It is emotional for all concerned. It is The Cycle of Life. It is Reality. It sucks!
To what I ascribe as a lasting tribute to The Family Nancy raised… and the adults they became… this Reverse Care-giving Experience did NOT divide the siblings AT ALL as is so often the case.
One son – an advertising executive in Kansas City – took over the financial management of Nancy’s life. … Another son – a lawyer in St Louis – made the four hour round-trips to “check on Mom” as often as possible. … Daughter Blondie and a 3rd son in Raleigh provided moral support, cards and letters and visits as often as practical.
The two of them and yours truly managed the – Move Mom Out Of Her Home Into The Assisted Living Center – which is every bit as emotionally-taxing as everyone who has done it can attest.
Everyone willingly did what they could in providing for the best loving care possible. For her last year, Nancy was progressively unaware of her surroundings. Sound familiar?
If you have not gone thru such an experience and think… Heck, thats what any normal family would/should do… think again. Reverse-care giving can split siblings quicker than Politics at Thanksgiving or “Who gets Dad’s pocket watch or that special Christmas ornament”.
Nancy and Bob’s four kids – were Raised Right.
To be fair… our 35+ years of in-law harmony could be related to the fact that we lived 1,000 miles apart pretty much that whole time. Absence can indeed make the heart grow fonder… or at least not harder. But those multi-dozen annual 14 hour “car trips to Grandma’s” were never a burden. Thanks to Cracker Barrels and Interstate all but the last two hours.
I was Raised Right too. Thats simply “what you do”.
Apparently that Raised Right stuff has passed to the next generation. One granddaughter – a grad student at UCLA – is flying in for the service. As soon as It Happened Tuesday night, Kid and Pastor Danny began plans to make the 5-hour road trip from Madison with two amazing 2 y/o twins and 3-week old Baby Danny… and Nanny-In-Residence Blondie.
“Not coming” would have been understood by all… but was never given a thought. Bro-in-law Hunter and I will fly in Sunday. It is “what you do”.
I’ve opined in various columns over the years on the subject of Obituaries. They are “ads” that a family buys in the local print media upon the passing of a loved one. Beyond the first 25 or so words… you pay “by the word”. With newspapers being cash-poor these days, they welcome ones that begin ….
He/she was born in …. and attended first grade at …. …. …. she played Blanche in the high school production of Streetcar Named Desire and briefly considered a theater career but …. … … … first job out of college was …
If an Obituary contains anything like that… you’re looking at 750-1000 words and a bill approaching $1,000 not including a picture. Such obits often get red-lined down to 500 words when the newspaper sales guy says “fine… that’ll be …”.
The Obituary ordeal is often compared to the “pick out a casket” ordeal. The family is emotionally vulnerable in both circumstances. The sellers know that.
NOTE: When I was doing all that for my Mom 18 years ago, I was dealing with two very evil aunts who I once publicly described as – one witch short of the opening scene of Macbeth. Blondie would later refer to that period as “…sawing two limbs off the family tree… with a chain saw”.
There was no such high drama this time around.
Everyone trusted Kansas City brother to Do it right… How Mom woulda wanted it . He did an excellent job. It was lengthy but buried in the middle was The Zinger that every first-rate obituary has GOT to have.
“Legend has it that Nancy was the first woman to wear a pant suit to a Sunday service at St Andrews Lutheran Church in the late 60s. She was Mod…” – WHAMMO!
I never knew that but I can believe it. I DO believe it.
Nancy Stiegemeyer – My Mother-in-law – was a very dear woman … very very intelligent … deeply involved in her church and in her community … with the emotional fortitude of a Modern Day “Pioneer Woman”.
Maybe like a lot of your mothers or grandmothers who grew up in the 30s-40s… dealt with loved ones “going off to war” … a brother lost at Chosin Reservoir … a widow for her last 28 years. Through it all … raising her family The Right Way. … A Life Well Lived.
Q: BobLee, we gots to know… did Nancy understand your notoriously obtuse sense of humor?
A: No. Probably not. But neither do Blondie or Kid. My only hope are ReRe and YaYa. I think ReRe might be my best chance. “CarrotTop” has a bit of the whimsy in her.
Yes. I know about McClatchey (The N&O) declaring bankruptcy. We’ll get to that crap later.
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