I'm sad to tell you that my lovely mother in law died this evening after a long and fierce battle with cancer. She was such a key figure in our family and will be very much missed. Her husband and one of her four sons were with her when she died; most of her relatives had been with her at some point today, but spare a thought for her oldest son and his wife who are trying to get a flight from New Zealand where they live.
She was one of the strongest, toughest people I've ever met, but in a good way, and was also one of the kindest, most generous people I've ever met, who would spend her last ha'penny on her seven grandchildren (she got six girls and a boy, after four sons!). She didn't understand the concept of having us drop in without being fed - in the end we gave up protesting. She would come for a meal at our house but would bring the meal with her (this may of course have beeen a sad reflection on my cooking but I think it was just her concern not to put us to trouble or expense). She was also a woman of strong views; she would bring her own teapot and milk when she came because she didn't like our teapot (it was earthenware and she liked a metal one she could reboil the tea on the stove with) and she liked "fresh milk" (i.e. full fat rather than semi-skimmed).
We all loved her very much and we will really really miss her. I'm glad to have known her.
One last thing - when Him Indoors phoned her (in early 2000) to tell her we were expecting our fourth child she was quite annoyed. "There's no need for that", she said. I am so glad she didn't always abide by her theories herself, since the son I got was the youngest of the four...