Because a lot of people have asked for a copy of the letter I wrote which was read at Carol's funeral, I decided to post it on my blog. For those of you who are interested, it might help you to know the Carol we (as a family) knew and to help you understand the wonderful relationship I had with my mother-in-law. Tim, Kevin (Tim's brother) and I all wrote letters and they were read at her funeral on June 23, 2009 in Park Hill, Missouri. If you want to read theirs, just let me know and I will get a copy to you.
Carol Maples by Teresa Marler
The first time I met Carol she was lying in a hospital bed recovering from surgery. Tim and I had been dating for a very short time but he was anxious to introduce me to her. He described her to me as young and very pretty--I think he must have been proud of her. She was not in much of a mood for visitors that day, but she must have seen something she liked in me because from that day on she screened calls from another girl to Tim and never delivered any of her messages to him. She had made up her mind that I was the girl for her son and in less than a year she became my mother-in-law.
Carol was more than a mother-in-law to me. She was my friend. She was someone I could talk to about her son because she understood him and loved him long before I did. She was always so proud of both of her sons and would talk about them lovingly as she described them as whatever they were doing at the time--"my son the writer", "my son the sailor", "my son the GREAT Texas oilman", my son the school teacher", or perhaps one of her proudest, most recently, (speaking of Kevin), "my son the professional actor".
When Tim and I found out we were expecting her first grandchild (who by the way turns 30 today--sorry Calista, I just had to throw that in) Carol was only 42 years old. Our friend Lanny McFarland teased her and called her "Granny". Well the title stuck and she has been "Granny" to our whole family ever since. And what a Granny she was! She gave a whole new meaning to the word "spoil". We're still finding out from our kids about the things she let them do, the food she let them eat, and the movies she let them watch when Tim and I weren't around. She was there to help me after the birth of all three kids and also helped me get through some fairly serious illnesses.
Carol was a second mom to me--very different from my mom, I'll have to admit. But thankfully, both my moms liked each other, too. They shared the same grand kids and they enjoyed traveling together to visit us all.
We loved to shop together. Carol enjoyed spending money--mostly on her kids and grand kids. Bud can attest to the fact that she loved Christmas. He was the one who had to load all those presents and haul them halfway across the country to our kids who were not so patiently waiting on the sidewalk with their binoculars in hand watching for Granny and Paw Paw. It's a good thing he had lots of experience pulling heavy loads for long distances. Yes, Carol indeed knew how to spoil grand kids!
She and I shared another love. She loved music and loved playing the piano. Although she was always much better at it than I was, she treated me as her equal when it came to music. We've played many a duet together and when we "flubbed up" we would just laugh and keep going, pretending we had just played a flawless masterpiece. In fact, it became a tradition for us to laugh hysterically at the end of our duets until it became almost impossible for us to play together at church for fear we would "crack up" at the end. We couldn't even look at each other and smile. In recent years we played the same duet piece at three different churches. It's one of my favorite memories.
Carol knew how to love unconditionally. Not just with her family but with all those kids she came in contact with on a weekly basis. I believe she taught half this county how to play the piano. How she loved those kids! How DID she love those kids??? She had more patience with them than any of the rest of us did. There was always a piano student in the house and it seemed to us that most of them had not practiced their lessons at home. Yet, she was patient and proud of them all.
In her last days Carol introduced me to some of the staff at Camelot Care Center as her daughter. They encouraged her to get back to playing the piano. We tried to play a duet but she just couldn't make her hands do what she wanted them to. She promised me she would practice and we would try again the next time I came.
The last time I saw Carol she was lying in a hospital bed. Today, she's dancing on golden streets and I'm confident that she's playing on that Steinway concert grand piano in heaven. I love you Carol and I look forward to laughing hysterically when we play our next duet for our Lord!