Woven Blessings
Summer 2007

by Sheri L. VanDuyn

To ‘His’ Mother

‘Mother-in-law’ they say, and yet,

Somehow I simply can’t forget
‘Twas you who watched his baby ways
Who taught him his first hymn of praise;
Who smiled on him with loving pride
When he first toddled by your side.

‘Mother-in-law’ but oh, ‘twas you
Who taught him to be kind and true;
When he was tired, and almost asleep,
‘Twas to your arms he used to creep;
And when he bruised his tiny knee,

‘twas you who kissed it tenderly.

‘Mother-in-law’ they say, and yet,

Somehow I never shall forget
How very much I owe
To you, who taught him how to grow.
You trained your son to look above,
You made of him the man I love;
And so I think of that today,
Ah! Then with thankful heart I’ll say

‘Our Mother.’


These words were sewn by me into a sampler for my Mother-in-law and presented to her on the occasion of my in-laws 50th Wedding Anniversary. I found this in a cross stitch book named, “Occasions That Count” which was very appropriate as I read these words with tears in my eyes at the program honoring her. I have always felt this way about “our Mom”. This Mother’s Day will not be as bright, but a memory of “Mom.” This will be the first one without her as she passed away on March 5, 2007. 

We both miss her so very much and cannot believe that she is gone…Anna Van Duyn lived a very full life being born December 18, 1914; she celebrated her 92nd birthday which Ralph was so glad to fly out for. She was married for 74 years; most people wish to live that long. She married my father in law in a South Dakota snow storm in February 10, 1933 and was blessed to have 4 boys. Mom always said that it would take her many years to have her “girls”-her “daughter in laws” as each married her sons.

The 4th son, the only one born in California and her baby was a tag-along, my husband, Ralph. Mom was 40 and Dad was 43 years old when he came along and back then that was considered “old”. She always said, “We’ll never get this one through school.” 

Well Ralph did go to school and graduated from Valley Christian School in Southern California. He started at the local Community College and began thinking more and more of attending a Christian College. He chose Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and in the Fall of 1974 he headed east with a friend and 2 nephews. One was younger and checking out the College, while the other was going to be his roommate; since Ralph was so much younger than his oldest brother, there was only a few years between them. Other students in their dorm had to check out the uncle and nephew living together; I am sure they suspected a much older person, but this was not the case.

 This same year I was starting my sophomore year at Calvin College along with my older brother Gary who was a junior. Gary brought these 3 “California” boys, who were his suite mates, home for Sunday dinner; I had also come home for a delicious meal. My Mother strategically placed me at the dinner table by Ralph; she liked him immediately.

 The two of us hit it off quickly and soon afterward we were walking to classes together-checking out the art studios, meals, chapel and the Library. We were inseparable.

 At Christmas I flew to California to meet Ralph’s parents. I was so glad that I did. We were engaged on Valentine’s Day and married August 22-only 11 months after our first meeting! I can remember Ralph’s family coming out for the wedding in their travel trailers. His Mom welcomed me into their family with open arms; I was going to be her “last” daughter. This would be the 2nd time we would spend time together and I was marrying her son!  I still can see her waving goodbye to the two of us as we left for our honeymoon. She was so happy for us, but sad to see us leave. One of Mom’s favorite expressions over the years while being together was, “It just wasn’t enough time!” And after her passing, I can say, “How true! 32 years just wasn’t enough time to have her as ‘our Mother’.”

 “Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”-Proverbs 31: 28

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