Fruit Trait: Joy (Mom McEwen)

denise-croppedBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law – Galatians 5:22-23

My mother-in-law and I are friends. Our friendship can be characterized as a tree of life that was planted twenty-five years ago when I met John. What I am about to write is coming from 25 years of experience, prayers, well-wishes, common griefs over the loss of loved ones and pure love for my mother-in-law.

I first love her because she gave birth to my wonderful husband, John. She also gave him life by doing her part to raise him in a safe and intact home, educating him and teaching him a work ethic. 

My own sweet brother-in-law, John’s brother Peter once said of the McEwens, “Perfection is not necessary to be in this family, just honesty and love,” or something to that effect. It was and still is true. Our love for each other has covered over our ills!

I miss Peter. He’s a common loss my mother-in-law and I have. John, Pete and myself were the three amigos when Pete was in town and we’d make the four-hour drive from Boston to Vermont for our annual family vacations. He accepted me so much as a sister that we even had a little sibling rivalry, but there was always love and respect for each other in the end. I am sorry John lost his precious Pete almost 15 years ago, as Pete was a mentor and one of John’s strongest encouragers.

I am also sorry my mother-in-law lost her sweet Pete and two other children, her precious Cathy and lovable Jimmy. She gave birth to five and now enjoys the love of two at this stage in life, Mary-Louise and John.

Has that kept her down? No! We all appreciate each other more with each passing day for we know how precious life is. She also lost my wonderful father-in-law in October of 2011, the man of her dreams and love of her life. She also supported him through some health difficulties of his own, though he never let them keep him down either. But more on my father-in-law on another piece.

If anyone has reason to be on constant pity and complaint mode, it’s my mother-in-law. However, if she is tempted to go there, she soon changes her tune and we find ourselves laughing and calling up good memories or positive subject matters.

She is full of the joy of life that keeps her spirit hungering for God’s love.

I admire her for that.

Though we have similar values, our experiences have been very unique—some in common, some polar. We have chosen over the years to focus on what we have in common over our differences. It’s made our connection healthier and stronger today. I also am better able to appreciate our unique differences today being close to the age she was when I met John. I am more understanding and love her more deeply.

One of our commonalities are the arts. She’s a teacher of piano and voice. We enjoy singing carols around the piano at Christmastime. We also enjoy good movies together. Being of Russian descent, she is taking me to see the St. Petersburg ballet perform Swan Lake next week for my birthday! I am thrilled and looking forward to it!

She recently sat patiently while I pulled my portfolio of artwork from my college days. I studied art for two years before deciding upon another degree. But my love for art has never diminished! And I know I am in the presence of someone who appreciates artwork, for her very own good father was a fine artist in the early 20th century.

Born in Russia and escaping to Paris on an artist visa after the Bolshevik revolution, Alexis Arapoff painted backdrops for the theatre. He met my mother-in-law’s mother in Paris. After they married, they ended up living in the outskirts of Boston as he painted portraits, landscapes, religious and other art for a living. My mother-in-law learned drawing and painting basics from her father and has a deep appreciation for the visual arts.

It was a joy to feel more deeply appreciated after showing her my college art portfolio that day and receiving some nice complements.

She will be moving into our neighborhood next week, and we are looking forward to having more experiences together and being with her in this season of her life.

I am thankful my mother-in-law has such energy and vitality. She takes good care of herself nutritionally, exercises, has good friends and worships God. She exudes joy.

Thank you God for my mother-in-law. Please bless her with deeper joy this season and shower her with love and kindness from above! Thank you for your amazing son who makes my family possible.


4 thoughts on “Fruit Trait: Joy (Mom McEwen)

  1. Thanks, dear Denise, for sharing this. I’m so glad I got to be with your mother-in-law in 2010, and look foward to more times in the future. I’m happy she’s moving near where you live. God bless, dear one!


  2. This is a beautiful tribute to your mother-in-law. It deserves wide circulation. I suggest that you send it to Christian Woman magazine as a starter. Send it also to Gospel Advocate and Christian Chronicle. I’ll bet one of those magazines will publish it. I think good mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law everywhere are looking for better ways to connect and be loving in their relationship with each other. You two have found some of the answers to this challenge.


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