My mother-in-law is moving back with me. Some of you have read my post early this year about the cruise I went on with her. To many who knew I was getting a divorce it was odd that I would cruise with her (or she with me), but not to us: we’ve been close over forty decades. We are each a habit to the other that is hard to break.
Five or six years ago, when my father-in-law really began to fail in his Alzheimer’s, my husband and I invited them to move here from about four states over, intending that they would live out their lives on our little farm with us. They bought a fancy double-wide and settled into a peaceful life right down the driveway from us.
Then, two years ago all our lives fell apart. My husband had begun an affair with a woman young enough to be our daughter. Not only was I grief-stricken, but the ripples of this earthquake tore through the whole family—my side and his. He flatly, unblinkingly told his parents and my 77-year-old mother who also lived here that they all had to move from the haven where they had planned to live from here on. He planned to force the sale of the home. I felt powerless at the time, because I was clueless about what was happening in my own life, let alone theirs. My family scattered from my farm.
The picture above is one of their “home place” after their move. It has been a forlorn sight for me to pass each day, with "Grandpop's" flagpole standing alone, some paving bricks where their walkway used to be and the clear outline of the front porch that was, punctuated at the corners by a gardenia bush and callas.
My mother found an apartment near my brother. My in-laws were packed up in a hurry and moved yet again, this time 1,100 miles away to live near my husband’s sister. By this time, my father-in-law’s condition had deteriorated mentally, although we knew of no physical ailments. The trip was horrendous for them, and it must have taken its toll because he lasted another six weeks and was gone.
Since that time, my mother-in-law has kept up with me and I with her. We love each other and, after over 40 years of friendship, would not want to lose each other. Her son made a phone call after his father’s death demanding that she no longer have anything to do with me since he no longer wanted to. She refused, so he doesn’t call. I can’t imagine this estrangement from one’s child, but it is his doing, not hers.
I digress…greatly. I am still on the farm, having now secured its deed (and its mortgage!) from my husband. I am beginning to regain equilibrium, and my mother-in-law has been a constant, though distant, cheering section, as have been my sisters-in-law. I have one sister-in-law who literally has called me when I’ve been down and cheered over the phone: “Rah, rah, rah! You can do this!!”
This April I did what I had long wanted but been hesitant to do: I called and asked her to come for a visit. Although I have visited her in her northern home, I have been diffident about asking her to come here because I was afraid this place held pain for her. Secondarily, my husband and his young tart still live in this city. We are not yet divorced because of business entanglements, but that does not impair him in that relationship, and it causes him to be greatly hostile toward me on the rare occasions we must speak. I knew that he would be upset if he knew his mother came to visit. Still, I wanted her to come, and I felt it would give her a change of scenery.
She jumped at the chance, and we began to pick over dates. The second day after my invitation, she said, with all confidence: “C, I’m not coming to visit—I’ve decided to move back.” I was stunned; one sister-in-law was worried. The other had actually put a hand in this decision.
My mother-in-law was living in a nice senior complex with all the accoutrements and nothing to do. Try as she might, she could not cultivate a circle of friends, missed her church back here, and had no “work” to do around the place, which she dearly loves. She wanted to be back here to have a dog and a cat and to tend her yard. I immediately said “Yes.” It felt right—like she is coming home. After much discussion with her daughters, we are all agreed this is a good thing.
She just left today, having been here two weeks. Her new mobile home (smaller, but all she needs) arrived yesterday, on her 79th birthday. We have the electrician/plumber lined up and have purchased her appliances and all else she needs. At the end of the month I will fly up and drive her back here to meet her movers. We are all excited. One of her daughters has already marked off a week for a visit to which we all look forward.
The photo below is taken from what will soon be her front deck--just down the driveway from me!
My husband has discovered this plan and has called his sister (though not his mother!) and sent me a scathing e mail, bemoaning that I am acting contrary to her best interests. “She’s a brittle diabetic,” he ranted. “You’re moving her to the country away from medical help and have put a nail in her coffin.” This is from a man who has not so much as called to wish her happy birthday or on Mother’s Day; now he shows such concern for her welfare! Go figure. My mother-in-law is philosophical about this; he has nothing to do with this decision.
So, I hope to be reporting to you on and off our own Ruth-and-Naomi story. We are two women on a little farm, working together to forge our own life and, as of now, we are happy in that endeavor. It is true that my mother-in-law is 79 and that she is a diabetic. But she’s been diabetic for over fifty years, and she is not of a mind to let that chart her course.
Pray for us, for we have challenges. But cheer with us as we move ahead! Reports to come….C
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