As I was reading today's Gospel (last night), somehow the part about Simon's mother-in-law struck me. I had always taken the lady a bit for granted. She was in the house, sick, Jesus cured her, etc. Suddenly I found myself saying, "Now wait a minute: in that culture, the daughter (Simon's wife) would have left her family and been taken into Simon's paternal house. What was the wife's mother doing in Simon's home?" So I started imagining the backstory to today's Gospel. Was the mother-in-law just visiting and got sick? I prefer to imagine that she was a widow, and Simon's wife was her only child. In those days, such a woman would have been the most unfortunate member of society. With no sons, and her daughter married off to another family, she would have been utterly bereft. Her being in Simon's house would then be a measure of Simon's great-heartedness.
We never actually hear about Simon's wife in the Gospels; Paul will mention Cephas (Peter) as traveling throughout the Christian world with "a wife, a sister" as his companion, and later fictionalized accounts will also speak of a disabled young daughter, Petra. But the Gospels only show us Simon, and his brother Andrew--and his mother-in-law.