No one knows her name. She may have been widowed, for she lived with two younger men who were not her sons. Their boyish enthusiasms might have made her laugh. It’s also pleasant to think that her daughter had inherited her features—whether she was stocky, or had a slender build and expressive eyes. Very likely she worked hard at chopping firewood and salting fish, helping to feed the household, watching her grandchildren. But one day she could do none of that, for she was sick in bed with a fever. Her daughter would have been nearby, applying a damp cloth to her forehead. All we can do is imagine these details, because we know strangely little about her.
Everyone knows Simon Peter’s name. No one knows hers, even though what happened to her had a profound effect on Simon. She was on the verge of a major moment—for all of us. The Christian church was born with Simon’s mother-in-law.