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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Not my story to tell

There is a post that I've had rolling around my head for a few weeks. It concerns my mother-in-law and her physical condition, which is declining and terminal.

I want to talk about how difficult it is to watch her slip away physically and how unfair it is that mentally she is absolutely aware of all the ways that her body is betraying her. I want to share about the dedication of my father-in-law as her life's partner and her caregiver.

But my in-laws are fairly private people. I'm pretty sure they would not share details about their lives to the extent that I've shared about mine on this blog. And so I hesitate to write the post I really want to write because it's just not my story to tell. 

There is an offshoot of this situation that is mine, however. I can share my unease at how to support my husband in this transition, this long good-bye to his mom. I can confess that I have miserably failed at sending my mother-in-law cards and pictures of the kids and artwork that they've made. I can attempt to earn some redemption by revealing that I do call her, two to three times a week to give her a glimpse of her grandchildren's lives.

I know that plenty of times in the past 17 years of my marriage, my mother-in-law has been the cause of many an eye roll, an impatient toe tap, a passing of the phone as it's ringing because "it's YOUR mother." But I can count just as many times that she has been the source of laughter and joy and relief. She once came for a visit and a paid by the pound to have the dry cleaner do all the laundry I was behind on. (We're talking several trash bags full of clothes!)

I can look back objectively and see how she has supported me in my role as wife and mother, how she has only wanted to the best for us and done what she could to help bring that about. I can even look at myself and see that in many ways, she and I are very similar (though I am considerably less busty).

At 40 years old, I still have three grandparents living. It seems absolutely unfair that my children will lose one of theirs before Charlie and Robbie even reach their teen years. So, while the story of my mother-in-law's illness is not mine to tell, the story of her life is...and will be so that my kids are always aware of what a remarkable woman their GoGo is.

Thanks to Shell at Things I Can't Say 
for giving me space to share what I can't say.


kimybeee said...

family is such an important thing - i understand how you feel. having sweet memories of our loved ones are priceless!

Missy said...

Amy, you said this wonderfully. Letting others know your family is dealing with a serious illness, but yet not sharing details that are private. I had to chuckle at the "passing of the phone" comment. That's EXACTLY why I wanted caller id!

Mike Magan said...

thanks . . . nicely put.

Momza said...

It sounds like your Mother-In-Love's legacy is one of serving others.
Sending good thoughts and hugs.

Shell said...

I never know what to say to my husband about his mom when she gets sick. It's not to the extent that your mil is sick, but I am still at a loss.

You still have 3 grandparents? Wow. I lost all of mine while I was still in my 20s.

"The Queen of Free" said...

I still have three living grandparents, too.

What a beautiful tribute to your MIL. Prayers for your entire family.

Janet said...

Long good-byes are so very hard. My mom died due to COPD and my dad to Alzhiemer's.

There is a poem that I found that relates death/dieing to a ship sailing away, how it becomes smaller and smaller until it is a speck and then gone. BUT on the other side there are people CHEARING the coming of the ship. I have it on my computer at home and I will do my best to get it sent to you.

Hugs to you and yours

Shelley said...

Oh, Amy.....


Amy said...

@Janet -- I'd love it if you find that! You can send it to me at 4thfrog 70 @ gmail dot com

Jenny McB said...

We just went through this, my oldest is 23 and had all of his grandparents still living. Within a month my MIL had the diagnosis and died at hospice, my FIL is now in intensive care after a serious operation.
It's a blessing that our children have known the love of grandparents. Peace to you and your family.