Missing My Mother-in-Law

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Many women have issues with their Mother-in-Law, but I never did. I alway felt that Doris accepted me into her family with warm, open, loving arms. This of course may not have been the case, but it’s my perception… which is, my reality!

In actuality she may have been concerned about the fact that I was 10 years older than Nick and had been married previously. Then, there was that little issue of two children, not to mention the fact that I was American and planning to take her youngest son “across the pond!” Nevertheless, she always treated me like one of her own and made me feel comfortable.

I’m sure she found my loud, boisterous, American voice quite grating and I recall seeing her recoil (ever so slightly) each time I entered the house and gave her a big Italian hug and a kiss on the cheek! …but If she minded, she never said and I never stopped. To this day as I enter her room at the Care Home, I walk to her bed, bend down over her small, movement less, debilitated body, wrap my arm around her and give her a big, “fresh red lipstick” kiss on the cheek. She smiles (as best she can now a days) and for a second I see that beautiful, familiar twinkle in her eyes… and then she’s gone.

My Mother-in-Law has had a rough time of it the past 10-15 years. When I first met her she was healthy enough, but struggled with occasional back, neck or hip issues. Through the years there have been illnesses, surgeries and infections. Each one taking it’s toll and leaving her body just that much weaker.

Up until about 8-10 months ago, she’d always ask about our lives; our work; the kids and grandchildren. She worried when we bought the Flat in 2012 and she worried again when we sold it in 2014. From her Care Home bed, not able to walk, feed herself, take a drink or turn the telly on, she’d ask if we were both “okay” and would let us know that she was concerned about our wellbeing.

Lately… she’s just not there a lot of the time.

She seems to slip away to some unknown place where I watch her eyes twitch and her mouth struggle to mumble a few incoherent words. It doesn’t seem like an unpleasant place; this place that she escapes to. And when she goes there she’s fully engaged in whatever it is that is going on, but she comes back to us a little bit more confused and a little less present.

I miss my Mother-in-Law.

I miss her chocolate cake and having a cup of tea with her. I miss her putting plates in the oven when we ordered fish and chips and how she would freeze a pint of milk, so it wouldn’t spoil. I miss her kitchen which was filled with a cornucopia of vintage kitchen utensils, cook books, tea tins, mismatched china and the world’s largest collection of tea towels!

I miss her telling me stories about Nick as a young boy and her time in the WRNS. I miss her quietly telling me why she never particularly liked this or that ex-girlfriend of Nick’s! We talked and giggled about silly things, just like I did with my own Mom… until she died. My Mother-in-Law gave me a second chance at having a Mom again and God knows how much I have enjoyed that privilege!

It seems that may now be coming to an end. At 88 she is tired and frail and spends more time in that other place, than she does in the present.

However, last Saturday I was given the most wonderful, surprising gift… for which I am most grateful. Last Saturday, she rallied! For close to 10 minutes she came back and I was there.

Her eyes twinkled as she asked about my daughters and my grandsons. I told her that Arielle had sent her love and mentioned that she {Arielle} still refers to her as “Grandma.” She thought that was wonderful and said she considered that to be a great “honor!” She asked if I was working yet and when I said “No.” She said, “Never mind, you’re better off.” She implied work was overrated and we both laughed when I strongly agreed!  She asked, very seriously (as a woman of her generation would) if Nick was “taking good care of me” and looked both happy and proud when I said, “Yes, Mum, he’s taking good care of me.”

We shared a few precious, priceless moments of love, laughter, and light… and then, she just wandered off.

I miss my Mother-in-Law

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4 Comments

    1. Actually Nick was outside speaking with his sister! So I had her all to myself, which is selfish I know, but I really think it was meant to be that we share a special little moment without distractions. It was one of the most beautiful moments I have experienced.

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