Marriage is hard work.
It involves deep emotional connections; it takes effort, vulnerability, and it’s risky because it might fail.
We can’t possibly know what our life is going to be like when we marry someone.
We make a choice based on a whole lot of reasons – instinctual and intellectual.
Whether that choice works out well is mainly dependent on the hard work each person makes in the marriage.
Part of that hard work is dealing with and embracing the in-laws.
It’s not always easy. Like any relationship, effort and compromise are required.
But if both parties do the hard work, the return on investment is worth it.
Thirty-three years ago, I became the first in-law – now one of seven – of Pat and Neil Finn.
They embraced me as part of their family, and I embraced them as my other Mum and Dad.
When I married Joe, I had no idea of the positive impact and influence of his parents, Pat and Neil, and their family on my life.
I learned from my in-laws to “stay positive, get creative and make things happen. Learn from the difficult times, practice gratitude, focus on what you can control, not what you can’t, and most of all love big, have fun and enjoy life”.
Pat and Neil set the example of their marriage and the value of hard work.
At 88 years, suffering from cancer, Mum Finn knew death was coming, but she didn’t shy away from the hard work of dying.
She set the expectation and her family followed suit.
When Mum got home from the hospital the family took over her care.
They made a roster and worked day and night shifts – taking turns to care and look after Mum. Learning on the job and doing what was required with love, respect and humour.
The experience of Mum’s death is a gift.
Visits from friends and family to say farewell highlighted the richness of life with stories shared, laughter enjoyed and tears shed.
Precious memories with Mum, and with each other were shared. And new memories made.
Love from the past and the present filled Mum’s room. Her mother’s crocheted quilt draped her bed providing comfort and warmth.
Last Monday night, as I was giving Mum a head massage, the tears rolled down my cheeks onto her face. She said, “Angie, you’re tired. Make sure you rest and look after yourself”.
Another time, when I whispered in her ear how much I loved her, she said, “I love you too. Ange, I’ve had a great life, I’m ready to go”.
Pat died a few days later, Friday 21 May 2021 in her home, surrounded by her loving family.
The rewards of hard work
Mum Finn led by example.
She loved and cared for her parents and family, her husband of fifty-six years, her seven children, her seven in-laws, her twenty grandchildren, her many friends and her community.
Mum’s attitude, humility, sense of fun, love, care and generousity endeared her to everyone. She made everybody feel like somebody.
Mum and Dad Finn’s marriage was a great example of love, respect, teamwork and commitment. They never shied away from hard work and they reaped the rewards.