Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Let's Drain Out All The Oil...

My husband's youngest sister was married with three children when I met her. She was a few years older than we were.

She is not teeny-tiny but she is not a tall woman. She is however extremely capable and as hard a worker as all the rest of the family. As a matter of fact she went to work at a local college once her children were grown. She finally retired last year because she was having a hard time fitting it into her busy schedule.

My mother-in-law admired her. She often said that she liked the way my sisiter-in-law made sure her children had jobs once they were old enough. The jobs may have been as simple as shoveling snow, mowing lawns, or babysitting but they were expected to know how to work.

My sister-in-law was proud of her home. It was a two story house and neat as a pin at all times. Many neat-as-a-pin homes are often not comfortable to be in. You feel as if you will make something or everything dirty just by being there. But my sister-in-law's house was warm and inviting.

She also likes to cook. Often we were invited for "just a simple" little dinner. Delicious.

She does not entertain at home quite so much now. She has one big meal each year in the fall. She invites practically everyone. She helps at a local food kitchen for the holidays so this is her holiday celebration with family and friends.

After my brother-in-law died (the same year as both of her sisters) she sold her lovely home and bought a beautiful home that is all on the same floor. It is still neat-as-a-pin and still so homey.

My sister-in-law would decide she wanted a new look for her home every once in a while. Her kitchen was not real big but instead of a table she had a little nook where she installed a booth much like some diners have.

One time she redid the kitchen. It was all pink and white. The walls were pink and white. The curtains were pink and white checked. Everything matched. It looked like it belonged in a doll house.

Often my husband and I would go to her house to play cards. We sat in that same little booth and had a good time.

One time as we were going home my husband told me I should not stare at my brother-in-law's hand. I always look at the cards the next player is holding to try to get an idea of how their hand is. (I can be a bit of a shark with cards.) I did not understand the problem.

That was when my husband pointed out that the fingers (except for thumb and pinkie) on one hand did not exist. I had never noticed. Apparently the umbilical cord was wrapped around his hand as he was developing and the fingers could not grow.

It did not inhibit him in any way. He worked with his hands and could do anything anyone else could do.

So one night we were playing cards. The talk at the table came around to cars. My husband had a Ford. My brother-in-law liked General Motors cars. I think he had a Chevrolet at the time. Naturally "mine is better than yours" was the gist of the conversation.

My brother-in-law was a quiet man. But he would hold his ground at the same time. Then my husband got totally ridiculous. I would like to say it was because we were so very young but he was always like that.

My husband decided they should go out and drain all the oil out of their cars and try to drive to the next town. My husband believed my brother-in-law's car would blow up first. Of course my sensible brother-in-law declined.

That only made my husband more certain he was right. "C'mon. Just drain all the oil and we'll drive. You'll see."

I decided it was time for us to go home. My sister-in-law walked us out.

As she opened the door we all smelled smoke. "John, your car is on fire," my sister-in-law joked. We had a good laugh.

We went to the car. It was on fire. The front seat was in flames.

We have never been sure what happened to start the fire. Perhaps a stray cigarette coal. By the time the fire was out there was nothing but springs left of the seat. We were fortunate that there was no further damage. And it sure did smell bad. It took longer to get the smell out than it did to replace the seat.

My sister-in-law has dealt with a lot in her life. She is one of the only three siblings of nine still alive. She is there for each and every one of us if we need someone. And she donates so much time to charity. She has her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She has a woman friend for whom she shops and helps with cleaning because the woman is unable because of illness.

She also loves to travel so she takes tours several times a year. She is so busy. But she is one of the truly happy and content people I know.


  1. It's obvious to me in this post, Emma, how much you admire your SIL.

    1. I love most of my in-laws. I always told my husband that we both got lucky to have married into such great families. This sister-in-law tries to hold our extended family together. It is hard when the older ones are no longer with us and the younger ones spread their wings and move away. She does a good job of it though.