Sunday, November 14, 2010
Me & Momma
My Mother in Law has left us. For years, she's been my MIL in the electronic arena. It was last Friday night when she decided that enough was enough and breathed her last. I met her years ago, 13 to be nearly exact, when she still lived in Santa Maria, California. In 2002, we (I!) decided to push for them to move nearer to us in Portland for health care reasons. He passed away two years ago. And she, last Friday. Both were 82.
Living with any person, or persons, is difficult. Dealing with family, in laws, parents, children and the like is not always a cake walk. In fact, family can bring about feelings and decisions and actions that don't typically feel like we're being ourselves. They know our buttons, and use them freely. They know how we'll react, or not, and thrive on that. Momma had a myriad of health issues from congestive heart failure to breathing difficulties to a strong thread of addiction issues.
She and I struggled nearly from the time they arrived in Portland. It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I'm a pretty black-and-white sort of guy. I'll typically tell you the way it is. I'm a mover, a shaker. I get things done. I'm about solving troubles, not covering them up. I'm a nice guy but I'm not a sweet guy. And all of those things are points at which she and I came to terms. Blows. Repeatedly. She was none of those things. Her beauty came in simplicity, easiness. Nothing formal, nothing with time restrictions or dates attached to it. It came in smiles to others, sharing a leftover piece of cake with someone, or a simple card left at somebody's door. She hated dates, times, and places. She wanted no requirements, nothing formalized, no "have to's." When backed into a corner, she'd take the road of non-commitment. She would rarely commit to being anywhere at a particular time unless she had to. She could not stand people telling her what to do. Given her own vices, she would probably not be where she was supposed to at the given time and date. She'd get there on her own time....after a "Wee." And "I just need my water." And "Where's my purse?" And, "I just have a couple of things to do first....." She was never ready. And that drove me up the wall. And she didn't care.
Momma and I came to blows twice. Really, really horrible spars. Complete with foam out of the mouth, and rage in the eyes, the most vile of words, and tears. We never really got better after that. She took advantage of me more times than I can count. I knew her, she knew me. I think she liked me, I don't think she really took to me. I think she appreciated me for who I was and the things I could do for her but I don't think she would have chosen me to be a friend of hers in the big wide world of people to choose from. I think she valued me as her son's partner and that I take care of him, and stick up for him. Nearly always, he and I stood together. Her addictive personality ran the home. And caused her life to be in turmoil. She was rarely at 100% peace for very long. Until now. She struggled, she thrashed about, she was upset often, she always needed something else, she had fear in her eyes sometimes, she always needed a hand-holding person. Her life was pleasant, lovely, when filled with her vast array of old friends. But her life was a real bitch when the ugliness of her troubles reared their ugly heads. Isn't that the same with all of us?
Today, she rests. Without pain, discomfort, the feeling of being unsettled and always needing something else. Today, the medications are needed no more. The edgy, dire phone calls have stopped. She tested me repeatedly. Many times, intentionally. I have had to learn, to change, to evolve. Because she was my partner's mother. And an aging human being who needed help. I hope I'm a better person and have learned a few lessons because of her.
And today, I ask for comfort on her tired soul. For rest and....finally...coming to a place of eternal peace.