Get Outa Here!
Today’s Life with MIL is a ‘flash back’ to about 18 months ago, after I needed to take a hiatus from writing our story.
… It has been months since I’ve written a Life with MIL blog. I thank everyone who has inquired about MIL to make sure she was doing ok; and I understand your concern, since there’s been radio silence on the blog about her. The truth is we’ve entered a new chapter in the Life with MIL. I’ve tried many times to share it with you, but repeatedly found it was just too difficult to write about.
Tonight was an exceptionally difficult night and, as I left MIL, I knew it was time to return to the blog. This new chapter isn’t pretty, it is full of less laughter and more heartaches. Still, so many followers have expressed to me that the blog has given them validation that they aren’t alone in this journey. Many find comfort, and even a few ideas, on how to navigate these uncharted waters. Others just love the banter that I share with MIL.
So, be patient with me as I learn how to share this new ‘season’, as I’ve come to call it. Thank you all for your support and, please share with others that may need to hear our story.
The gravel crackles under my tires as I pull up the driveway. Frank is in the garage tinkering. I climb out of the driver’s seat calling to Frank.
Me: Heya Frank!
He looks up and nods as I approach the open door.
Frank: Hey … She’s up there … (nodding towards the house)
I study his face.
Me: How’s she doing Frank?
Frank shakes his head looking at his feet. He chews a little harder on his toothpick and raises his eyes to me.
Frank: Well, ya know …
Me: I know Frank, I heard the reunion picnic was tough.
I look up to the slider and see Mom sitting in her chair, leaning forward, elbows on her knees staring intently though the window. I wave but she just continues to stare at me.
Frank: She see us …
Me: Frank, is she getting belligerent? More outbursts?
Frank: Ya know, it’s with her dad. She yells that I’d better make sure I tell him….
The slider slams open.
MIL: (screaming) HEY! WHATCHA DOIN’ THERE?!
Me: (waving and smiling) Hi Mom!
MIL: (with a scowl) I said … whatcha doin’!
Me: Just talking. I’ll be right up …
Frank watches as Mom retreats through the slider and slams it hard. I look at Frank and sigh.
Frank: You better get up there.
Me: It’s not just her being confused about her dad, is it?
The door slams open again.
MIL: (voice escalating) Hey! I’m talkin’ to YOOOOUU!
Me: Me Mom? I’ll be right up …
MIL: DON’T YOU DAAAAARE COME UP HERE!
I think for a moment, maybe I won’t! Her eyes are wild, her nostrils are flared, and her lips are grimaced into a straight line.
FRANK: You better ….
The slider slams again, this time so hard it pops back open.
Frank: (shaking his head)…. you better get up there.
Me: I’m going …
I open the door and gently close it behind me. From the top of the stairs I hear MIL grumbling.
MIL: (Screaming) GET OUTTA HERE!
Me: Mom …. (climbing the stairs) Mom? It’s ….
MIL: (Screaming) GET OUTTA HERE!
I reach the top step and try to assess what I’m walking into. Mom is standing by her chair, hands on her hips, and a face so angry … and I think maybe scared.
Me: Mom …. (starting to cross the floor slowly)
MIL: GGGGGGEEET OUT OF HERE!
Me: No Mom … (approaching her and reaching for her arm) No, I’m here because I miss you Mom.
MIL: (abruptly dropping into her chair) WHAT ARE YOU DOIN’?! … WHAT DO YOU WANT?!?!
Me: (sitting on a stool directly in front of MIL) Mom? Do you know who I am?
Mom is glaring directly at me, she raises her hand I flinch afraid for the first time ever that she might actually strike me, instead she points her finger at my face just inches off my nose.
MIL: I know EXACTLY who you are and EXACTLY what you are up to! (her face is turned into an angry snarled mess)
Me: (I suddenly realize what is going on, my heart hurts.) Mom? Do you think I was down there flirting with Frank, trying to take him from you?
She turns her head defiantly from me, her eyes dart down at me. I think to myself if they were lasers I’d be fried right now
Me: Mom? I’m Lisa …. I’m your ..
MIL: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE …… I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE UP TO!
I jolt my head back, her voice chills me to the bone, I lean forward and slowly like I’m approaching a cornered dog, reach my hand out and place it on her knee.
She turns quickly in her seat pulling away from my touch. I don’t move. I try again by gently approaching her knee with my hand. My heart is racing, as I realize I do not know the woman in front of me.
Me: Mom? I love you and I miss you … I’m here tonight to spend time with one of my favorite people in the entire world….
She turns her head slowly towards me, the dark, angry vail starts to lift and MIL’s face begins to soften. I think I see an opening to turn this around.
Me: Mom? Can I hold your hand? (Mom turns her hand over and allows me to slide my hand into hers) Mom? I’m Lisa, and I’ve missed you so much. Can we spend some time together?
MIL: I ….I … don’t ummm, don’t know why I yelled.
Me: It’s ok Mom …. (I start to let my shoulders relax a little bit)
MIL: Why? I … I’m (tapping her head) I’m not sure … (sigh) why? Why I yelled.
Me: Mom … you’ve been sick for a while … (squeezing her hand and reaching my other hand across to her leg, giving it a gentle squeeze) See Mom … you may not feel sick, all of this (pointing up and down her body) is going along working fine …. But this (I tenderly stroke the top of her head) up here…there is something very sick. Your brain doesn’t work like it should any more, so you become confused and angry at times.
MIL: (starting to cry) … but I don’t (sniffle) mean to ….
Me: I know Mom, I know … (stroking her hand) It’s ok….
We sit for a few minutes in quiet, Mom wiping tears, me squeezing and caressing her hand.
MIL: I’m sorry I don’t know …
Me: (I raise my finger to her lips) Shhhh shhhh shhhh …. Let’s not think about that …. instead let’s talk about our evening together. Guess what tonight is?
MIL: I don’t know …..
Me: (I smile and make my eyes dance) It’s bath night!
MIL: What? Bath night …. what?
Me: You know Mom … I scrub your back and such …
Frank climbs the stairs ….
MIL: Who’s coming up the stairs?
Me: (to Mom softly) Frank.
Me: (attempting a cheerful greeting) Frank! How you doin?
Frank: Question is how are you?
MIL: What? (looking to me confused) Why? ….. What (her eyebrows start to knit)
Me: We’re good Frank, thanks. (Mom softens again)
I lean in and kiss MIL’s forehead. I pause and look at her carefully. The tender and kind woman I adore and love so deeply is coming back.
Me: Mom? I’m going to get us ready for your shower.
MIL: Oh, I’d like that …
Me: Yep! And a good back scrubbin’!
Mom smiles as I leave the room to prep her shower. I stop in the hallway and peek around the corner to find her intently watching Frank and rocking ever so slightly in her chair. These outbursts are becoming more and more frequent. Mom is slipping away faster and faster, testing our limits. It takes a lot of energy, self control, and strength to not lose our patience.
Me: Mom?! Ready?
MIL: Where we goin’?
Me: It’s bath time.
MIL: Oh I like that … yes, let’s go …
Me: That’s my girl ….
MIL: (she stops and smiles) You’re my favorite …. (tapping her head) favorite …. oh I don’t know (giggling) you are just my favorite.
I hug her and kiss her forehead ... and guide her down the hall.