I Love My Mother-In-Law But…

Yesterday I answered the phone and it was my mother-in-law…

Me: Hello.

MIL: (Talk slowly and insert very thick-old lady-Romanian accent here, very thick)  Cat-tee?

Me: Hi Ma.

MIL: How are the cheeld-ren?

Me:  Great Ma, how are you?

MIL:  Aye’m goood.

Me: Ma, I can’t talk because I’m leaving to go get a manicure and pedicure right now.

MIL: Why?  Splain me why you go.

Me: Cause I always do, it’s something I do.

MIL: No. You no go.

Me: What?  Why?

MIL: You shuld neh-vir git fingirnails and toenails cut on same day.

Me: Why?

MIL: The only time you git fingirnails and toenails cut same day is when they prepare body for funeral.

Me: Oh stop.

MIL: No. You no go.  Cheeld-ren need muddar.  Don’t go.  Or just git toenails cut today not fingirnails too.

Me: Ma, I don’t have time to go back two days in a row.

MIL: No, tell me you no go.

Me:  Okay, I won’t go.  But I have to get off the phone.

MIL: Okay, Bye.  Have good rist of day.

Okay I still went, I know, but when I got there the salon was so busy I couldn’t wait.  Maybe she knew something.

Anyway, I love this woman, but she is SOOOOOOO superstitious!  She is this tiny little lady from the old country who lives in Beverly Hills.  She is as sweet as pie, never interferes and normally minds her own business. 

She is eighty-one years old and was put in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany at the age of sixteen.  She stole food from the German soldiers to stay alive.  Her whole family, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles were all killed in Auschwitz.  She was spared because she was strong enough to work in a factory for the German war effort.  She has seen horrors that are unspeakable. 

But, the superstitions are over-the-top.  They’re kind of entertaining really.

One day I was telling her I lost my wallet and she said, “Oh somevone geeve you Ee-veel Eye”.  What?  “You lost wallet cause you git Ee-veel Eye from somevone.  Eet’s a curse, da Ee-veel Eye.  This why ba’hd tings happened.  Ee-veel Eye curse made you looze wallet.”

Yes she believes in the “real” Evil Eye….Mkay?

She also won’t let you step over someone if they are laying on the floor.  She Freeeeeaaaks OUT!  She says, “You ohn-lee steep over bodee in dee griveyard…you steep over bodee in dee house you sind them to griveyard.” 


We are also not allowed to sing in the morning but I can’t remember why.  But all the tra-la-la’s have to be withheld until afternoon when she’s around.

Got that?

But my favorite is when she calls on New’s Year’s Eve to wish us a Happy New Year but most importantly reminds us, “Don’t forgit tooo-morrow on New Yirz Day not to use any see-zors.  Don’t let the cheeld-ren cut papir tooo-morrow.  If you use see-zors on New Yirz Day you cut away all good fortune for the yir.” 


Post a Comment


  1. HoneyB 1

    Your MIL sounds adorable to me! Amazing what she went through. Sounds to me like you handle her quite well!

  2. Alan 2

    You sing at funeral services which are held in the mornings. Services of thanksgiving and celebration are held in the afternoons. Hence the superstition.

  3. Philly 3

    I love the way you wrote her words. Too funny. I can just hear her talking


  4. Heh. I like her. I want to BE her when I grow up.

  5. Oh what a horrible thing to have to go through. (((hugs to mil)))

    Ok, now I have to LMAO because I bet she says “leetle” too. I feel connected to your mil now.

  6. Too funny! I could hear the accent. How fun to have a MIL whose quirks you can laugh at but whom you also respect. She does sound like a neat lady.

    I’ve got a great MIL who is plenty quirky, but I can’t laugh at her too much because she reads my blog and would not take it the right way. Now *her* mom is the truly funny one, but you don’t dare laugh at her. She is a barely 5 feet, 84yo, full-blooded Italian woman (though born in this country to immigrant parents) and she is *mean*. Laugh at your own peril!

  7. OH, your mother-in-law sounds precious!! I’ve never heard of any of those superstitions before either.

  8. what a story..she sounds amazing–I know some people like that too. I will enver sing in the morning again…

  9. Man, I’d love to spend the day with her. Her stories must be amazing.

    I love the way you wrote her words. I can just picture her. What a hoot!

  10. Alicia 10

    Your MIL sounds like a gem.
    I love the accent.

  11. Meg 11

    Too funny! She sounds just precious and I can almost hear her too! The ole’ evil eye, huh? I know all about that…lmbo!

    Sorry about the comment moderation for non google bloggers, it’s opened up again…I was tweaking the other day and OVER tweaked!

  12. Dawn 12

    Oh yeah…my MIL is from Italy and it’s the same thing. When I was pregnant, I nearly went insane from all the things I could not do.

    It’s cute, but it can make you mental too.

  13. My m-i-l had many superstitions. Her greatest: If she received an orchid from someone, no matter who it was – a greatly loved someone or an acquaintance -she and that person would soon never talk again. Must say, she was right. In the 32 years I knew her, I never gave her an orchid, tho there was once or twice… :-)
    Your MIL sounds like someone I’d love to know. How wonderful for your boys to have her in their lives. Love the way she “talks”.

  14. Marcy 14

    Oh Cathy I would love to meet your MIL. My grandmother ( my dads mom), was from Czechoslovakia and till the day she died at the age of 93, she sounded like she just got off the boat at Ellis Island:))
    I loved it. But do you know what she did to me? When I brought Chris over for the first time he was picking me up for a date. We were going our country dancing like normal. Down here, dressed up is a pretty starched pair of tight Rockies ( a brand of jeans), shined Roper boots, nice blouse and of course hair and make-up. I looked great. Wanna know what she said, with Chris in the room? My Gosh girl! if you bend over your pants will split and your butt will fall out!!! WHAT? HUH??? Grandma, omg I cna’t believe you said that ! In front of my date!!!
    Yea fun times, but I miss her. Even after we were married , I guess he never quite got Chris’ name right.
    I got many many cards addressed to Christ and Marcy… she knew Chris was short for Christopher, but guess she didn’t realize you drop the ‘T’!
    Have a great weekend!

  15. Lori 15

    I don’t think of myself as a superstitious person. At all. I have a PhD in experimental psychology – reason and science rule! No astrology, no fears of black cats, none of that. For heaven’s sake, all so silly.

    But if you ask me to swear on my children’s lives to something that I know is a lie, I won’t do it. A cold heaviness in the pit of my stomach stops me. I know it’s silly, really. I know it’s superstitious. I know all that. But I won’t do it.

    So I guess maybe I am superstitious. And once I acknowledge that I’m superstitious, the rest is just detail. For her it’s scissors or nail trimming, for me it’s my thing. At least hers are great to hear about, especially in the way you captured her voice!

  16. Cass 16

    I had a women in my life that I met through a Holocaust remembrance class that sounds very much like your MIL. When she met people she liked they became part of her “family” and she was SOOOOO superstitious too. She did the scissor thing too and was always always always telling me not to buy or set up or wash anything for a baby that hasn’t been born – she’s probably pitching a fit and explaining why I’m still pregnant due to this superstition to a load of people right now.

  17. Love her! You better leesen to her.

  18. Hey thanks for stopping by my blog. I just read through yours and I love it! Wine? Yes please!
    Your MIL sounds like a gem! You gotta love those old school broads! (I say broad in a nice way. You know)

  19. This cracked me up. I have an old polish woman at my job, so I heard the accent perfectly!

    I don’t understand superstitions either, but my husband blamed the gutters breaking on me for letting our toddler open an umbrella in the house.


  20. Misty 20

    That is too funny Cathy. She sounds CUTE! Amazing the stuff she survived!!! What a tough woman! I love superstions. I am glad I don’t believe in them though…I would have years & years of bad luck from all of the mirrors I have broken!

  21. I can totally hear her talking! Wow–now I feel superstitious! My mom is like that a little–not nearly the extent of your MIL–like no hat on the bad and no walking under a ladder, etc.

    It’s amazing and unthinkable what your MIL has been through–she must be super strong!!

  22. Candy 22

    Oh wow, she’s amazing! Is she Rom? Better know as a gypsy? I know the Nazis put a lot of gypsies in the concentration camps, and with all that evil eye business, it would totally fit. And if she is, how fantastic is it that you’re kids are part gypsy!?

  23. Alisa 23

    Awww, I know it’s got to be a little annoying, but at least she cares. There were years (not anymore) where I think my MIL wouldn’t have warned me in hopes that something would happen to me! Now, we’re close buddies though.

  24. Your MIL sounds like a wonderful lady. What a hoot with those superstitions. The woman has survived the death camps, but she’s afraid to sing in the morning?

    It reminds me of how I got a pedi yesterday and I chose a really “out there” color since I”m about to go on vacation and I wanted something fun. The pedicurist kept asking me, “You really want this color?”

  25. Dragon 25

    Wow, she sounds like my mother. Except my mother speaks with a Portuguese accent. :) I’ve never heard of the scissors one.

  26. Karly 26

    So do you purposefully do those things when she is around? Because that is the kind of evil DIL I am. ;) Really, though…your MIL sounds sweet and funny.

  27. Leah Q 27

    Cute Story! I heard every bit of her accent – reminds me of your post about hearing ‘our voices’ of our posts as you read them.

    She may have something though with the ideas on scissors not being used on New Years Day- Those who follow feng shui practices, the Chinese, Buddhists among a few others believe one should not use knives or scissors on the Chinese Lunar New Year (Usually in February) for just the exact reason why your mother-in-law states – it will cut away your fortune…
    :-P Leah

  28. sharon 28

    If I lumped her superstitions together with my mom’s I’m not sure I’d be allowed to do anything. :)

  29. Trisha 29

    Even though the superstitions can be a bit nutty, I am glad that you appreciate your MIL for everything she went through. She really cares about you if she makes you promise not to get both your toenails and fingernails done on the same day – even if you lie!

  30. Dang! I always sing in the morning! It’s my thing! AKA Cinderella, while doing laundry, dishes, chores, etc… Every now and then when I go outside to do the am chores I let out a good ‘The Hills are Alive with the sound of music’ Julie Andrews style.. Arms open wide and twirl. Just because I want to! And to let all the critters know I am there!!! Plus no one can hear me within 5 miles…
    I LOVE this post!!!! LOVE your MIL!
    I’ll have to remember the seezors…
    And I never get a pedi or mani on the same day… not tied to superstitions, just the way I am! I do believe I’ve got some of that gypsy blood hiding out…deep…down…hidden..
    She rocks…

  31. Rayrena 31

    She sounds so cute! My mom isn’t so much superstitious as full of sayings, which I seriously need to write down. Plus, being Korean I grew thinking that an ash tray was an ashuh-tureeh (I thought it was made from some type of tree for years). Her sayings crack me up, I remember that if we bad mouthed someone, we always had to hear about the dog with poop on its butt who went all over town telling people that they smelled; so we’d better check our own butts first. My brother and I would spin around, look at our butts and announce that we were “Clear!”

    The best ones are during pregnancy. My friend was always telling me what she wasn’t allowed to do during pregnancy; couldn’t eat spicy food becaue t would irritate the baby’s skin, couldn’t rub her belly or she’d rub its nose flat, etc. Oh yeah, she chided me for leaving my purse on the floor because it would cause me to lose money. I’ve never lost money and she was ALWAYS losing money!

  32. Amanda 32

    So funny!

  33. Erin 33

    Oh, I do so wish my mother in law were cute and funny instead of, um, psychotic and evil. Sigh. I shall live vicariously through you. Hope that’s okay.

  34. I cannot tell you how hard this made me laugh. Seriously. I don’t know about you, but I’ve stepped over many a person laying on the floor and so far, I haven’t sent anyone to their graves. ;)

  35. Harmony 35

    She sounds awesome…How fun!!! I have never met anyone like that, what a treat!

  36. holy poo. i think i’m in love w/ your mom. this was the cutest post ever. we all love our mom (but need to roll our eyes as we say it!) but i think i smell a great reality show – Little Old Romanian from the Old Country in Beverly Hills. HILARIOUS!

  37. Lisa 37

    My grandparents were from Sicily and spoke really poor broken English. They always managed to tell me what to do or not to do though. They were really superstitious too.

  38. misty 38

    awe! she seems sweet! What an amazing story she owns though. Wow… I am hoping that my daughter, some day, gets to meet someone who survived a camp. We are running out of time for that one though…

    Bless her heart! My grandma was incredibly superstitious too…

  39. Oh, Cathy, the post made me laugh out loud. I have been cutting fingernails and toenails on the same day for as far as I can remember. :)

    My MIL is as sweet as can be, but she’s almost deaf – can you imagine the conversations we have over the phone??

  40. she is a gem…..you need to make postits of these for all your friends

  41. Feliz 41

    I love your Mother in Law! At least she keeps you entertained, and what a rich history she holds. Neat lady.

    You are very funny as well. I am adding you to my blog roll.

  42. giz 42

    Your ML and my mom – no difference – both in Auschwitz, both “stupid-sticious” and both have the same interesting command of the English language. But..ya gotta love em – their hearts come from a good place. To think of how young she was when she was incarcerated – it’s just frightening.

  43. I knew there was a reason the scissors all disappeared on Jan. 1st :)

  44. Lo! 44

    How precious!
    I’m afraid we’re in deep crap every New Year’s Day. We’re not scrapbookers… but we started a tradition of recording the events of our NYE celebrations. Typically, we spend the bulk of New Year’s Day clipping and glueing photos of our celebration into a big photo book.


  45. Tipper 45

    Neat post! She sounds like lots of fun. I always wonder what made someone come up with the crazy superstitions in the first place?

  46. Your MIL sounds like my Austrian step mom. She lost both parents in WW II. She’s delighful and I love her, but she’s got a different set of beliefs that work for her!
    She also has a delightful accent and it took me years to understand her on the phone. Her jaw does not move that much when she talks and so in person, you look for facial clues and lips moving that you can’t see over the phone. Now I understand her perfectly, but it took a while!
    Great post! She sounds delightful!

  47. OH! she sounds awesome! Can I have her??

  48. Liz C. 48

    Well, your MIL sounds like she’s priceless. I think that their generation (not matter what country they were from) had waaay too many superstitions. My in-laws were much the same. Only they didn’t survive Auschwitz and lose their entire families. Maybe you should listen to her, lol. Ya never know…

  49. I love that.

  50. but did she spit on you at your wedding, in your wedding dress, in front of all your friends as you walked down the aisle??
    yeah, mine did. also to ward off the eeeviiil eye, leeeen-dah.

    your mil sounds alot like my mil and i bet i’d love yours too :-)

  51. Familia 51

    What a great description you have done of her, and what a neat person she must be!

  52. Maybe it’s RAD, for old people. She lived through the Nazi terror’s and has spent the rest of her life afraid. It makes sense really. I love those accents. My Grandma was Danish. We actually have Jewish blood but my grandfather changed his name when he came to the US. Grandma went through the Nazi occupation in Denmark.
    God can deliver her from all her fears and give her something to hold onto.

  53. Wow. What an interesting woman!! I would love to sit and talk with her, though…everything I did would probably have some sort of superstition to go along with it. Tee Hee. What great stories you tell – they keep me comin back for more! :)

  54. krysta 54

    I love your MIL. I love the superstions, it’s because you never hear about them anymore… you don’t have to believe in them but they are like stories that will be lost because technology will disprove it and no one has the time to listen. yes, i know i’m strange. i’ll leave now.

  55. KathyB. 55

    What an amazingly entertaining life you have had ! And your MIL sounds remarkable….of course , you are amazingly entertaining too ! love your blog and recommended it to a gentleman serving us samples at a winery a few days ago. And then, lo and behold, your blog talks about etiquette in the wine tasting room !

    I assure you, WE are very proper..KathyB.

  56. My grandma never lets me cut my fingernails on fridays… Bad luck she says…

  57. She does sound amazing. I’ll think of her next time I get a mani/pedi :)

  58. Laura 58

    Oh dear. But since I am not the one dealing with it, what a hoot! And hey at least you get along with her otherwise, right?

  59. Jeff 59

    I NEVER get my ear hair and nose hair trimmed on the same day for the exact same reason. Does that make me superstitious?

  60. Great post! I’m totally LOL because I can relate. Your MIL sounds like every little old Italian nonna I know! It must be a European thing, especially the evil eye thing. We call it malocchio.

    I’ve never been particularly superstitious, but my husband is. He’s been known to stop the car, turn around and drive the other way if he sees a black cat anywhere near the road!

  61. dawn 61

    LOL! God that was funny. I get the “why, why, why…” all the time from my hubbys’ Italian-old-school parents.
    Girl you need to have your own sitcom.

  62. Elle 62

    Ok, I’m finally caught up! Whew, I can’t keep up with you, hehe. Read it all, the pregnant woman, the rude dog guy, all of it.

    You mother in law is a riot!

  63. Awww she sounds cool! lol

  64. Egghead 64

    I can hear her and see her in my mind. How sweet she sounds and what an interesting life she has been through. Hopefully someone documents her life and stories for your children.

  65. We all need somebody different enough to make us think. Yiu have your mother-in-law.

  66. Your MIL sounds like she went through some terrible things. Crazy.

    On the other hand she and my mother could compete on who is more superstitious.

    1. If three people eat or drink from a cup or the same bowl, the youngest will die. I should have been dead many times over. Remedy, have someone else take a bite, sip, etc.

    2. If you drop a bottle of olive oil and it breaks, someone will die.

    3. Oh we still believe in the evil eye here, and I’ve seen (in Sicily no less) the ceremony to rid someone of the evil eye.

    And 4, every six months my mother goes around the perimeter of her house with salt. To you know, ward away evil spirits.

  67. Erinn 67

    Well, the way I see it, she’s survived in this life, through so much hardship, maybe she knows something we don’t know?
    I’m just saying!
    That story made me miss my Yia Yia not from the old country but just as unique!

  68. Neen 68

    My (future) mother-in-law won’t wear red. Ever. Or own books with red covers, or red paintings, etc. Reason: she owns a company and takes “being in the red” as a state of mind in addition to a financial state. :) And she’s Sephardic. Link? hmm…

  69. Amy 69

    Ok, I was in the floor laughing! I found myself using her accent the rest of the day.

  70. What an amazing piece of living history right in your own family tree. She sounds adorable … ; ) Always a great read here and I can never predict the topic. Keeps my mind nimble (and my funny bone, too).

  71. Oh my! I love this stuff. My mother, who was English (and had many stories to tell of World War II and bombs) had a lot of superstitions too. Then I moved to the Appalachian region, and learned tons more.

    And I believe them too. Evil Eye? Oh yeah. I could tell you some stories about that. Creepy.

    Your mother-in-law should be in a book. She’s one-of-a-kind. Ask her about stepping on a comb.

  72. leslie 72

    oy..she muust be stronga woo-maan!!Ok I will ditch the accent!!Mother in laws are something else!!LOL
    I will make sure I will hide the see-zors and stay away from the evil eye!

  73. giz 73

    It just dawned on me – you don’t sing in the morning because if you do, you’ll cry at night. Another version is that if you sing in the morning, you’ll pee the bed at night.

    I’ve lived with these superstitions. You absolutely don’t walk over somebody when they’re lieing on the floor because you’ll stunt their growth.

    We’ve learned to say “yeah, whatever ma”

  74. Flea 74

    Too funny! I love that you appease her and do your own thing. :)

  75. Sassy 75

    Your Mother in Law sounds like a hoot! And it sounds like you enjoy her very much, what fun.

    My Mother in law always filled her cubboards the day before New Years Day, because if they were full then, you would not go hungry all year.

    Superstitions are great!

  76. grace 76

    i’ve always had an interest in the holocaust, yet i still can’t even begin to imagine what she lived through. i’m sure she’s an amazing lady.
    meanwhile, i’ve got a few completely irrational superstitions, so i’ll stay quiet about hers. :)

  77. oh Gosh she reminds me so much of my late dad..dont brush your hair before sleeping, do nut cut your fingernails at night..etc etc..superstitions..he even told me never to sing while cooking or i end up with an older guy for a husband..he was wrong my hubby is younger than me hehehe

  78. Jody 78

    My (future) mum-in-law is TOO british for words…I can NEVER make a cup of tea right…damn yank that I am.

  79. Great story, Cathy! Great lady!

  80. What a life she’s had. And what a character. She sounds great. (Unless, of course, you’re trying to get out of the house for a well deserved mani/pedi).

  81. Kristen 81

    Oh man… I bet she has some interesting, if not horrific stories to tell.

    I do have to crack up at this post. Here superstitions are hilarious! Hey – she’s lived this long… you may want to listen to her :)

  82. Sounds like my Baba. But, regardless of what Giz may say, above, the superstitions do make their way through the generations. Giz always tells me to walk out of the door with my right first first. God forbid that I should put shoes on the table (not only because they’re dirty – it’s badluck). If anyone had a babyshower before the baby is born, well…you just don’t do it.

  83. Oh, so that’s why re not stepping over somebody. I grew up hearing that too but nobody ever told me why it was supposed to be bad. We’re not Romanian nor Jewish, but I guess some superstitions travel far and wide.

    Your mother-in-law sounds adorable!

  84. Kim 84

    YES – this is my MIL! Only she is from Iran. When the kids get sick she burns this horrid smelling crystall stuff because she says someone has bad eyes for them! Love her…

  85. Alanna 85

    TOO funny. I need entertainment like this in my life!

  86. Oh I loved this story!
    Sounds like a MIL tale I will wait a while to tell involves black eyed peas and gun powder lol

  87. jules 87

    Your MIL sounds like my Italian Grandma…very superstitious! And, that evil eye thing..it continues from generation to generation… scary :)

  88. Tatiana 88

    Because there are eleven of us, total, I never realized that the reason why we do manicures and pedicures in two days isn’t because there are too many people, but because of this superstition. Wee don’t give objects with sharp edges as gifts, step over people on the floor, put our bags on the floor, and we clean ourselves from the Evil Eye with water, pepper, and something else that drips while reciting a certain set of lines. I can’t remember, but they do it for me. It’s serious business, this superstitious living. And I dare to say, that I believe in it all. Well, most of it.

  89. Mrs. L 89

    Reminds me of my maternal Grandmother who also was pretty superstitious. To this day I still carry some of that with me and my husband laughs when I knock on wood over something or tell him he can’t do something that was one of Grandmas superstitions.

  90. priceless


  91. melissa 91

    I love the magazine. Congrats on the new job. (I don’t want to call it a job, a job, to me, is something that I have to do wether I want to or not)
    I love this tomato recipe and the lemon ricotta pancake recipe. I can’t wait to try them both!

  92. Kat 92

    I have just found your blog, and I love it.
    The story of your MIL is hillarious, I would love to hear her talk. I love how you wrote it out.
    Congrats on your new job.

  93. Love this blog! very funny stuff, am gonna keep tuning in!


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