I've been thinking today about this beautiful woman. She's the mother of the man I love. Oh so many years ago when I started dating her son (when hair was bigger and the economy was stronger and cell phones were the size of toasters) she must have looked at me and died a little inside. I was a girl with a past. A reputation. A sad story. I know she must have had dreams for her youngest son. I know at first I probably wasn't one of them.

But from the moment I met her, I knew I wanted her to love me. 

I had never met anyone quite like her. She had the best laugh, and the most beautiful smile, and she was head over heels for her family. I am convinced she is the best homemaker in the history of mother-in-laws. And when I fell in love with her son, she unknowingly convinced me I wanted to be a Benton.

Donna Benton loved her man like crazy. She gave him six children and she listened when he asked her to move away from the city and everything she ever knew. He had a dream, you see. His dream was to be a farmer of sorts, and he asked her to leave behind her picket fence and her best friends and her very own momma and move far away. He asked her to pack up everything and the kids and move to the middle of a big green pasture, surrounded by trees and animals and lots of hard work. 

She was Mrs. Danny Benton; that fact was as much a part of her DNA as the sparkle in her eye. And so she set her jaw and fixed her will and jumped. She left Santa Maria behind and made the sleepy little country town of Cottonwood her home. She would tell you it was brutal and it was beautiful, all at once.

Her six children grew up. She rocked grandbabies on her back porch. Her marriage grew sweeter. Her faith grew stronger.
And the dark day came when she said goodbye to her true love, and buried him under a big shade tree in Cottonwood cemetery. And when she could breathe again she set her jaw and fixed her will and moved on with life. And it was brutal and it was beautiful, all at once.

These days I am certain Donna Benton loves me. Oh, how she loves me. I have watched her savor life and love, with all of it's heartaches and fractures, it's seasons and chapters. She has taught me to love, and when it's tough to love all the more fiercely. She has taught me to hope beyond hope and to show mercy when it's least expected and least deserved.

As for me? I'm Mrs. David Benton; that fact is as much a part of my DNA now as the sparkle in my eye. And my children are grown, and this year I will rock my first grandbaby on my own back porch. My marriage is growing sweeter. My faith is growing stronger. I will love the girls my boys choose to love, and I will show them what it means to be a Benton. 

And I will remember as seasons come and go that life is brutal and it is beautiful, all at once. And I will always be head over heels for Donna Benton.


  1. Awww....Auntie jenna, u made me cry! U are an amazing writer! :)

  2. Brutal and beautiful. I couldn't agree more. Thanks for sharing this and for helping me look at my own DNA a little closer today.

  3. Oh how want to be that kind of mother-in-law

  4. Beautifully said sweet Jenna!!


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