I'm All A'Twitter

    Tweet on Twitter

    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    My In-Laws Part 2

    Part 1

    MIL had her grip on Mr. Sign. Anything she wanted him to do, he would race to her aid. The in-laws lived 45 minutes away so it wasn't like we were neighbors. I'm not sure why, but most of the Italian women I know have some power over their sons. Maybe it's the guilt factor from being Catholic. I only know that I was second to MIL. My needs were always second.

    Mr. Sign and I went to Aruba for our honeymoon. We didn't give any details about where we were staying to his mother. I was awakened the first morning by a ringing phone not by my new husband's kiss or embrace. Who would be calling us the 1st day of our honeymoon? You guessed it! MIL. We are still not sure how she found us but she must have called many hotels before finding us. At that time it was considered an overseas call so you had to have the operator dial it and she would ring you back to let you know that you were connected. This took some time. She told Mr. Sign that she just wanted to make sure that we were ok and that she missed him. I should have known then what an overbearing person I was dealing with. If I didn't know it then, I should have figured it out after she called again on our honeymoon 2 days later.

    Over the years I grew accustomed to MIL's backhanded compliments. She would come to my house when I was 9 months pregnant and tell me that my floors looked clean but hers were cleaner because she would scrub them on her hands and knees. I was 9 months pregnant people! I couldn't even bend over, let alone scrub floors. My FIL loved my blue eyes. He would tell me how beautiful they were. Her response was that people with blue eyes don't see as well as brown eyed. WTF! I have better than 20/20 vision. What was she talking about?

    FIL's sister lived next door but he was never allowed to talk to her or any of his family. MIL had a falling out with her 40 years before about land that was being fought over by the family. He would sneak over to see his sister never letting on to MIL what he had done.

    She had also taken the stand that she was "retired" when FIL retired. This meant that she had no intentions of cooking, cleaning or doing laundry ever again and left it for him to do. He waited on her hand and foot. He even tied her shoes for her and he was 5 years older than she was.

    While I was pregnant for our first daughter, my FIL had an x-ray of his chest during a routine checkup. A small spot was noticed and he was sent for a needle biopsy. I was glad to take him and bring him home. When I asked later about the results I was told that it was nothing and he was ok.

    Daughter #1 was born and she was the apple of FIL's eye. He lit up every time her name was mentioned and they became fast friends. It wasn't uncommon for him to be on the floor playing with her and he was 75 years old. He was very health conscious and watched what he ate for fear of diabetes. He was in great shape for a man of 35 and amazing shape for a man of his age.

    I became pregnant again which excited my FIL. He couldn't wait for another baby.

    One day he was fixing an eavestrough and a board fell off the roof and hit him in the arm. He was in immense pain for a couple of months. I kept telling him that it was not normal to feel such great pain for such a long time. He said that the doctor said it was because of his age and that he needed to take it easy. I knew something was terribly wrong and I insisted that my hubby go to the doctor with his parents to get the full story.

    Upon their return, Mr. Sign took me aside with tears in his eyes and said that it didn't look good. FIL had lung cancer and they wanted to do some more tests to find out where else he had it. The pain in his arm was radiating from his lung.

    I was furious at the in-laws because I knew that they were aware of his condition years before letting us in on it. I should have been more insistent on FIL's condition but I was too complacent. I loved this man dearly and it looked like he wouldn't be around to see the new baby be born.

    He was also diagnosed with liver cancer and once it's in your liver, it travels throughout your entire body. He received radiation treatments which I took him to. I cooked all of his favorite meals to try to keep up his strength. He just couldn't eat and he wasted away from a robust 180 pound man to a frail 120 pounds. It was hard for us to see him that way.

    As you can imagine, MIL didn't handle this well because it took all of the attention away from her. She didn't want us to give FIL the pain medicine he desperately needed. She didn't like how it made him act. I made a point to be with them every day to make sure he was receiving the care he deserved.

    She called frantic one day because she said MIL couldn't get up. I rushed over ice covered roads with my almost 4 year old in tow. When we got there, he was lying listlessly on the couch. I got down on my knees and took his hand and tried to rouse him. I asked if he had had any water. She said that he hadn't wanted any so she didn't give him any. I got some and tried to get him to drink it through a straw. He couldn't swallow which also meant that he couldn't take his medication. I called his oncologist and told her what was happening. Her response was "Don't you think he's dying?". Ummmm, yes but I didn't want him to die of dehydration. It seemed so inhumane. I called Mr. Sign who was working and told him to come and help me. We loaded him into the car and took him to a hospital in our city. I was relieved to see him getting hydration through an IV. I was holding his hand and talking calmly to him. He told me that my hands were cold. MIL said, "You know what they say? Cold hands, cold heart!" She got mad and pulled my hand off of his and said that it was her job to comfort him. It still makes me sad to think of his sad eyes searching the room for my comfort.

    It was decided that MIL couldn't take care of him any longer and that he should be put into a nursing home. FIL did not want to go but we had no choice. I was 6 months pregnant and had a preschooler to boot. I could no longer make the long trip daily. When he got to the home, his eyes showed his fear. This was the place where his father had died some 30 years before. I felt so bad for him. He was treated well and we were able to make visits to see him weekly.

    He would always ask me if the pickles were ready to be picked. This was in reference to his birth in the cucumber field. He wanted to know when the baby was coming. He was so sweet. He held on only to see that baby be born. He got to hold her 2 times while he layed in his bed. The pictures were incredible. Not only did his eyes sparkle while looking at her, the 2 week old baby was smiling up at him with the same sparkling eyes. Her middle name is the same as his first name even though it is a man's name. MIL was jealous because she wanted to be the baby's namesake.

    I got a call the next day from Mr. Sign. He said that it looked like FIL wasn't going to make it much longer. I stopped what I was doing and rushed to get there. I got lost on my way there which was strange because I had driven it so many times before. I was the last one in the family to get there. The nurses all said that he waited for me. His eyes were closed tight but the nurses were sure that he could hear me. I leaned down and gave him a kiss on the cheek and whispered into his ear that granddaughters #1 &2 wanted him to go be with the angels. One tear trickled down his cheek and he stopped breathing with that tear still drying.

    He died on July 1st which meant that the funeral would have to wait until the 5th because of the holiday. Unfortunately, we had a hard time finding enough verterans to do the 21 gun salute but they somehow pulled it off.

    MIL wouldn't allow any flowers into the house from FIL's family and none of them attempted to attend the funeral. I do know that they visit his grave because they leave things behind.

    Now about the MIL.......to be continued.......


    Quazirob said...

    man ... this is a great story and you tell it so well.

    SignGurl said...

    Rob~thanks, I lived it.

    This is way longer than I planned and it's taking me forever to write it. I wonder if people are just pretending to read it, lol? Maybe a pop quiz is in order. No cheating!

    Quazirob said...

    Seriously it is a good story!
    Check your email

    grainne said...

    Signgurl - you need to add a warning to these posts! How in earth can I maintain my Ice Princess image when people catch me with tears in my eyes?? ~hug~ your fil sounds like he was a wonderful man. However you mil, makes me think of the show "everyone loves raymond"

    Really is a great telling of this phase in your life, maybe print it and put it away for the kids when they are old enough to read it and appreciate it. Thanks for sharing.

    SignGurl said...

    Rob~thank you! Seriously, you need to post that.

    Grainne~I'm sorry. I wasn't sure that I would get that reaction from people. It's the reaction I have, but then I was there. FIL was a beautiful person. I don't watch Raymond because it's too close to my life. I think I'll take your suggestion and print this for the girls. Thanks!

    ~Deb said...

    Sad to say that the show does resemble a lot about the Italian mothers... My mother is like that, and it stems from jealousy over who gets 'their baby'...they want to be the caretakers and will go to any extreme to do this.

    This was an incredible story, and you seem like such an amazing women to be so loving in this kind of situation. Some people don't know how to handle it all.

    Thanks for sharing this. :)

    SignGurl said...

    Deb~Thanks. I love taking care of people. That is sometimes a downfall as I'm sometimes taken advantage of. I'm getting smarter in my old age though.

    Anonymous said...

    thank you for sharing this with us jenn.
    I'm glad you were able to bring this from inside of yourself.


    barman said...

    Wow, it doesn't happen all the time but I shed a tear or two myself. What a fantastic man, especially for putting up with the MIL. He just kept getting more and more special as the story unfolded.

    It is sad to see the people who leave this world and the ones that are left behind. Surely everyone would have loved FIL to live to be 100.

    You did a wonderful job of sharing your story. It really got the imagination going and ran me from happy to sad and back. Thank you for sharing.

    One more thing that made this just a touch closer. July 1st is my birthday. It will be something to remember for many years to come.

    Big bear hug (my specialty) to you SignGurl.

    wmy said...

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She sounds like a real terror! Its a shame when such selfish people have to make everything about them even when such terrible things are happening like a death in the family...and he was her husband!! It really gives new meaning to "living in quiet desperation" huh? Heres a cyber hug going out to you for putting up with all her crap!

    Big Pissy said...

    What a wonderful FIL you had! I know you feel fortunate to have had him in your life. And he obiviously loved you and your children very much. Such a moving story....well told.

    Your MIL, on the other hand....hate to say it but I think there should be a special place in hell for people who LIVE to make the lives of others miserable.
    You're a good person for putting up with all the crap she must have put out over the years.

    I can't believe she had that poor, sweet man TIE HER SHOES!!!!!
    That's so demeaning!

    Thanks for sharing!

    MamaKBear said...

    Awwwww Jenn! Your FIL sounds like he was quite a sweetheart and a very good man. How on earth did he end up with your MIL??? My goodness. (Hypothetical question, I know ya told how they got together kinda in the last post, but you know what I mean)

    You're a great writer, girl.

    Thanks for stopping by today...glad I could make you smile! :)

    wmy said...

    BTW...I finally got your link to show up on my darn page!! Yeahhhhh...clap clap clap!! lol

    wmy said...

    This is off subject but oh well..I just listened to your audio post and I have decided that.........You are the coolest thing ever!! I don't know how to do any of those cool computery things and as you know, I just now figured out (with your help) how to post a picture! Teach me, teach me please please!!! lol Seriously though, well done sister!

    Chrissie said...

    I'm sorry you had a mother in law from hell... she sounds 10 times worse than mine was lol

    I think SWEET father in laws get handed out with the horrid mil's... I still love my fil..

    DZER said...

    you are such a sweetie *smooches*

    like chrissie, I'm sorry about your MIL issues, but you had a great relationship with the FIL and I'm glad you and your girls were able to give him happiness late in life.

    and, again, i really do see you coming into your own as a writer. I look forward to the next installment.

    Lara said...

    Wow, you and your FIL were so lucky to have each other! The love you shared really shines from this post.

    I came here to see if you had posted a HNT pic, but this was a fascinating surprise. Thanks for sharing your story!

    gigi said...


    Remember you hold the future in your hands.

    You've been shown what NOT to do as a mom as a wife and as a human being!

    It's kind of odd but you've been given a gift use it wisely!

    tami said...

    Jenn, you're an awesome human being... and it shows in your writing.

    I don't know the woman, but she sounds a lot like my 2nd MIL. I envy you of your strength.


    Your FIL sounded like a cool fellow. He's comfortable now, and finally at peace.

    ell said...

    great story jenn. fil sounds like a wonderful person and i'm sure you brought alot of much needed happiness to his life.

    keep writing!

    Wenchy said...

    Are you SURE we do not have the same MIL????