Some may have known her as Arlene, or Mrs. Stevenson, or the person that would out-fish or out-hunt whoever was on the trip, or the Arizona Diamondbacks biggest fan (but she'd be the first person to say that it hasn't been the same since Luis Gonzalez left the team)... quite simply I knew her as 'Ma'.... as in "Hey Ma... any green chili burritos left??"
Arlene is my wife Gail's mother and our family lost more than the family matriarch last last Friday afternoon, much more.
I had a great relationship with my mother-in-law. I learned early on that a few compliments here or there about her cooking went a long way... usually meaning an endless smorgasbord of whatever she was cooking up on that particular day. Heck, she would even over rule my wife and fix me another plate when Gail would try, in vain, to cut me off. My larger than it needs to be midsection was always grateful.
You had to be on your toes around Arlene, at least have your guard up, as she was quick with the wit and wouldn't spare anyone (no matter how much you loved her cooking). I'm sure there are many stories to share, at this time though I'm having difficulty choosing some of my favorites. One quick one is that she knows how much I love to fish. She had fished the lakes in our area for many years. Every time I'd head out on a trip and come back with the news that I didn't catch anything she'd let me have it in a good spirited way. She'd always threaten to have me take her out so that she could teach me how to angle for the biggest catch on the lake. Sadly for me (good news I guess for the fish) we never made it out on a lake together. I do, though, hope she is with me in spirit the next time I head out (I need all the help I can get).
I want to thank all the folks that have called or emailed (and even commented on the blog) since the news of her passing. Right now the family is strong and we will get through this. Today is the first day that the obituary ran in the paper. Here is the link. Please join the family at the service on Friday if you can make it.
Lastly, below is a some of Arlene's paintings. Along with being good at everything else, she had artistic talents. The images are scanned in photos of some of her oil paintings. Over the years since I've lived here I've spotted many of her works in various local businesses. I've come to understand that folks would ask her to make custom leather belts that were equally as impressive. She was also known to write some fine poetry.
So Ma... I know you are out there... thank you for everything. Thanks for being a friend, mother-in-law, consultant, and fellow baseball fan. You meant more to me than I'm sure I've ever expressed to you, I miss you, and I love you.
Readers... please enjoy the paintings, and once again thanks for the understanding.