After I married, my mother-in-law and I had the same name, although the spellings were slightly different. She: Gerry. Me: Geri. That’s where the similarity ended. She was slender, blonde, and elegant. I was chunky, dark haired and decidedly inelegant. She was cautious and dressed conservatively. I took risks and dressed on this side of flamboyant. She was a woman of few words. Not I. She didn’t like to spend money. I love to.
I wasn’t comfortable around Gerry for many years. I felt fat and sloppy around her. I was neither fat nor sloppy, but I was terribly insecure. Which brings me to my point. When we lack confidence, we often become exasperated at others. We give them power over us they don’t really have—and don’t usually want. Self-confidence makes us feel happy. We don’t worry about what others think about us. We pay more attention to what they think. We hear them better.
As my confidence increased over the years, I enjoyed, and appreciated, Gerry more. Her style started rubbing off on me. After her son and I divorced, she traveled with me to visit my son, in camp, a trip I’ll never forget. She and I had become friends. We could talk about our differences with humor and understanding.
Gerry died at 89, about six years ago. I miss her. She wasn’t a wicked mother-in-law, competing with me for her son. She was a woman, just like I was.