I was married to my first husband for almost 18 years. I was close to my in-laws for the first 14 years, until I separated from my husband. Even after my divorce, I remained polite and civilized to them, and had respect for them as my daughters grandparents.
Before my father-in-law passed away, he and I made peace. He even confided things in me that made me feel very privileged and honored to know him and be his friend. He died about 11 years ago. I will always remember his beaming grin and belly laughs, watching how he enjoyed watching his granddaughter play, and gently teasing her about her thumb-sucking. He had massive arms and hands, that astounded me with their gentleness with my little girl. He was a quiet man, with a subdued wisdom that came from living a hard life. He'd served his time in WWII, and lost his first wife in childbirth.
Fast forward to today when I found out that my former mother-in-law is dying. I'd always wished to rekindle our friendship and have that great heart to heart talk. But, she started to have a series of mini-strokes, and ended up going to assisted living. She's slowly deteriorated over the years, and despite some occasional visits, I was never able to achieve any kind of meaningful conversation with her ever again. I could never tell if her seeing me was a happy occasion, or a painful occasion. My gut sensed that she was uncomfortable around me, and that she purposely chose to remain closed and not share herself with me. And, therefore, it made the visits uncomfortable for me - even though my intentions were for us to heal.
I'm feeling reflective and a number of mixed emotions. Proud of my daughter for being at her grandma's bedside with her own children, and saying she is doing ok without me being there. Standing vigil with her uncles and their wives and her cousins who are there, watching as grandma squirms and moans from terrible pain. And, I'm sending prayers for a healing of her spirit and a quick, merciful departure of her soul.
I am sad knowing that very soon we'll be closing another chapter that will fade into history. Knowing that life will not quite be the same, without the interaction of their mother and grandmother. I don't know my place anymore. I haven't been a daughter in law, or sister in law, or aunt to this family for 16 years. Our lives spun us in different directions, especially as I recovered from my divorce and married again and moved away. Our connecting link - my daughter - also moved away, married and started her own family. This is how life goes.
I feel humbled, remembering how grateful I was to have such great in-laws, who babysat my baby girl while I worked; who hosted our Christmas and Easter dinners for many years, as we crowded around the dining room table, formally decked out in all its splendor; who were generous to us with their monetary gifts as we made a home for our family. I remember times spent on the swing in the backyard; picking cherries from the tree; fish fries on the porch; shopping trips to Strite's orchard; planting flowers along the borders; sitting in the rocking chairs, listening to the stories about Grandpa Z and Grandma A. All of these things that shaped my daughter's childhood and made it home.
Even though she is 93, it is still hard to accept this change. I want death to be tidy. I want it with great closure; with us knowing each other, accepting each other, loving each other warts and all, and not having any feelings of regret. That we did it all, and said it all and still came out with bear hugs for each other and had each others backs. It is my solemn hope and prayer that even though I am not at her bedside, that her soul knows this and is meeting me half-way. God bless you, AnnaMarie Z. L. Thank you for being a part of my life.
updated by @evolving: 03/04/17 08:38:32AM