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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.


Sean said...

I'm so sorry for you and your husband's loss. My thoughts are with you.

Edmund said...

finally she's at peace now....and you guys can have peace.

Lemuel said...

As I read your post the words of a prayer attributed to John Henry Newman came to mind:
Support us all the day long,
Till the shadows lengthen
and the evening comes
and the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is o'er
and our work is done.
Then in your mercy give us a safe lodging,
and a holy rest,
and peace at the last.

May it be so.

aj67star said...

Sorry for your loss. It is tough to lose someone. She is at peace now.

Robb said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. My heart and thoughts go out to the both of you.

J.P. said...

I am sorry for you and your husband's loss. You have shared the ride with us, and now her train has come to it's final destination of happiness. Thank you for sharing this part of the journey wiith us.

Robert said...

I'm so so sorry Arnie. Blessings to you and Blair. Take great care of one another.

Greg said...

I'm so sorry to read about this. My (((hugs))) to both you and the hubby.

LSL said...

Oh, Lewis. What a tribute to the time you and your MIL spent bumping up against each other in this world. So difficult, our relationships with some people. But that doesn't diminish their importance and the love we have for them, in some way or another. Sending lots of love and support to you and hubby. xo

Tony (LT) said...

My best to you and hubby in dealing with the loss. Hopefully she has found peace. Your post was really wonderful, not just because of your honoring her, but the courage to be honest about your relationship with her.

Rick said...

Alas to the comfort, rest and eternal peace.

Bridge Journey said...

"I ask for comfort on her tired soul. For rest and...finally...coming to a place of eternal peace."

Amen! In the end, that is all we can ask.

Ur-spo said...

I've been away for a few days; I thank you for sharing this tender moment. I too am saddened for your loss.
I am glad you have so many people to be with you.

Homer said...

I hope things grow better quickly for you guys.

Christopher said...

So sorry to hear of your loss. Big hugs to you and the hubby!

CJ/Rick said...

So sorry to read this. I'm just shocked. Hugs to you and the husband.

Gary said...

I'm sorry to hear this. Death is difficult, especially when you and the deceased weren't exactly president of each others' fan clubs. What you wrote is both an objective summary of your relationship and a subjective account of how it affected you. It won't win any popularity contests -- not that you're worried about that -- but I think it's one of the best eulogies I've seen.
My condolences to you and Blair. I hope you both find some peace and some rest over the next few weeks.