My Mother-in-Law

I know embarrassingly little about my mother-in-law. In fact, it appears Ben knows very little about her life before kids as well. I wonder if boys pay less attention to the stories parents tell of their lives. At least Ben's maternal grandfather made a great impression on young Ben.

I know she came from a farming family. I know they kept silk worms in the attic, as many farms did in that region. I know she calls weavers "oriko", which is a feminine diminutive form I have never heard used by anyone else, so these women must have been "just" neighborhood women rather than artisans and craftspersons. I have no idea what they wove, but my guess would be plain weave in fine silk, to be sent away for dyeing and possibly embroidery afterward. I don't think the silk was spun nor dyed on individual farms, as it was a secondary source of income; rice, and possibly tea, were the main crop in that region.

True story. Someone thought she should marry this bloke, so her intended and a mate were made to take a walk on one side of the river, while she and one of her sisters walked on the other side of the river. Except she liked the mate better and married him instead. Not sure what happened to the intended, but four years ago at Ben's Dad's funeral, we met the son of the man who tried to make the match.

Ben always said she had a fierce temper; one time she broke a hairbrush hitting him. Different times. In the nearly 20 years I've known her, she was unwell and was preoccupied by her illnesses, and we never once had a meaningful conversation. Ben reckons she's definitely in a far better place now.

May she rest in peace.


  1. My heartfelt sympathies to you and Ben. I enjoyed the tidbits about her life; very interesting.

    I suppose it's often the case with those who make their livelihoods with textiles, to think of it as just work instead of a form of art or creativity. Makes one want to examine all areas of life for a different perspective.

  2. That's just it, Leigh. About a year before I exhibited/sold for the first time, when my mom and I were enjoying being insanely in love with what we were doing, Ben exclaimed; "I never realized weaving could be a hobby!" and he was dead serious.


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