Better Because of You – Jan and Nell Lanser

Oma and Opa - 2006ish

Dearest Mom and Dad,
It felt a bit like a dream come true when John took me out to your farm in Vauxhall for the first time in January 1976. I was a naïve, 17 year old city girl who had so very much to learn about life, love, commitment, and the profound meaning of ‘family’. As an only child growing up in what seemed like such shameful dysfunction, I had always longed to part of the magical chaos and heartfelt connection I saw reflected in big families. I had always envied people with brothers and sisters, and imagined how great it would be to feel like you belonged somewhere! I always wondered what it would be like growing up with people you don’t have to explain yourself to because they already know you … maybe better than you know yourself. I always wanted to be part of the laughter and loud conversations around the dinner table where people playfully competed for the last scrumptious piece of chocolate cake.

I got my first taste of all that almost 40 years ago and I have been enjoying it ever since! I am so grateful that I landed in the lap of your family and give thanks on a regular basis for all the blessings I have received in being your daughter-in-law. You have been ‘my parents’ in so many significant ways! Although many people complain about their in-laws, I do not! I can say that my mother-in-law has been a true mom to me over the years. She has filled an important gap in my life (especially after my own mother died over 20 years ago) and I treasure all the times we have shared, all the conversations we have had … and …all that I have learned about life and love from her. I also learned so much about tenacity and commitment and riding the storms of life together as I have watched my father-in-law rise to all life’s challenges with his strong character and tender heart! I have always admired his kind and generous spirit and ready willingness to help anyone he believed was in need.

I have born witness to the way you two have met the enormous adversity in your life with grace and faith and strength and humility. I have been inspired by the loyalty and commitment you have shown to each other. I am sure there were times when you weren’t sure you could go on and I know you have been through more in your lives than I will ever understand. I also know that although the hardships could have made you bitter … they didn’t! You both just became better. You have proved to me that “things turn out the best for those who make the best of how things turn out”! I don’t know how you have done it, but I wanted to let you know what amazing role models you have been for me! Because of you, I trust that I, too, can get through whatever life puts on my path.

Your presence has been such a gift in my life and I wanted you to know that I am better because of you. Thank you for making room in your hearts for me, for loving me like one of your own, and for being ‘there’ for me when I needed it most. I will forever cherish who you are, who you have been for me and who I have been able to become because of you!
I love you both from the depths of my soul …

Your grateful daughter-in-law,

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