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    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    The In-laws, Part 2

    ~This is a post that I wrote in December of 2005. Some of you may have already read it. It got pretty lengthy so I posted it in 3 parts. I have been talking about my in-laws quite a bit lately so I thought it was appropriate to repost.~

    In case you missed it, here is 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 hhotels 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 eaves trough 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 veterans 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.......


    jillie said...

    Oh man Jenn...that poor man. That is such a beautiful story. You're making my eyes leak once again.

    Thank you for sharing...

    I am so happy your FIL is at peace.

    G-Man said...

    Don't you Dare ever tell me that you can't write..
    This is as good as it gets.....
    Thats why I love you xox

    Crabby said...

    Awww, this is sooo, sad. Now I've gone and balled my new contact practially out of my eyeball.

    I'm so glad you made it there in time.

    G's right. (did I just say that?) Ah, well. You CAN write.

    Nonny said...

    This is freakishly similar to what I'm going through at this very moment. You could be describing my in-laws to a "T".

    FIL is not long for this world, hubby just called and it's definitely gonna be this week. Needless to say he's a wreck.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    lime said...

    your FIL sounds like he was a wonderful man and the relationship the two of you had sounds like it was so deep and special. i hope youtake comofrt knowing that you gave his final days great happinesses.

    your MIL, well, i wanna just belt her on your behalf....sheesh.

    SoCal Sal said...

    Had to get an ID so I could comment *wink*

    cadbury_vw said...

    while your writing is fairly light and upbeat for the subject matter, those are some harsh harsh situations for you to live through

    i am sorry for the stress and anxiety your MIL must have caused over the years

    MONA said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    MONA said...

    Dear Jenn

    I removed my last comment after I read your new post! It did not seem appropriate to leave it after that!