I sat at my mother-in-law’s dining room table and looked through a box of her old photographs.
Each picture, a tiny serving of frozen time. Smiling faces peer out of a black and white world, telling stories of the past and explaining something of the present.
At the bottom of the box I find a large brown envelope. Inside is a photograph of my mother-in-law. She is young, tall and thin, pretty. She is standing on a stage with her husband and two other official looking people in some sort of ceremony. In a manner slightly exaggerated for the camera, she is reaching for a set of keys. Everyone is smiling and looking into the camera.
It is the late 60s in southern California. She is a housewife in her mid-30s. Her children are in middle school, high school and off to college. When her husband encouraged her to sell Tupperware to make a little mad money, she discovered that she liked it. And she was good at it — so good that she won a car and quickly rose through the ranks to become a sales director.
It wasn’t long after the picture was taken that her husband was thrown from a horse and suffered a serious head injury. He lingered between life and death for two days before he died. And then the world that she knew spun completely off its axis and crashed into a million pieces.
When all was said and done, she packed up the Tupperware car with two of her boys and what was left of her life and drove back home to Texas to find healing among her family and to try to figure out how to be a single mom.
It wasn’t easy, but she carried on. She supported herself and her three boys selling Tupperware.
I’ve always admired that about her.