My mother in law is not my favorite person, but I admire her fortitude and her philosophy on life. She is 87 years old. Never gives up on what she wants and has no fear on asking anyone for anything. She is a little old, highly religious, darkskined, lady with false teeth, huge feet and walks like the hunchback of Notre Dame. She is blunt, has no political correctness, wears century old clothers and does not give a damn about ordinances of any types. But she has a loving heart, will give anyone in need anything she has and loves her children unquestionally and unconditionally.
She has family that loves her. Yet, she insists on living alone in a forgotten city, in a dump of a house with no ceilings, locks on the doors and no heat. As her daughter in law, I have tried to help or get my husband to do something different. He tries. However, she can really be mean. She swears! She will get us to take her places. Then will not get in the car once her chore is accomplished. She was living with us. The city condemned her home after she caught it on fire again trying to stay warm. After a few years, she went to stay with her daughter down South. She was there for months. She talked her daughter to take her back to her house to check on its status. After driving the twelve hours home, she refused to leave for the return trip. What can be done with a little old lady that refuses to leave her home. You let her stay.
All good- until old man winter rolls in to live in the city again. Now what? Drafty windows! One out on the third floor. No ceilings in the downstairs. Electric is on finally which means lights, but no way to refrigerate food because she has no appliances. We bought her a washer and dryer, a grill to cook outside on. There is no stove or anything else. Her daughter thinks she will be able to get her to move back down south with her. We are afraid we will find her body frozen in her beloved house. She wants to be independant. She wants to do things herself. We picked her up from the hospital after she burnt her feet from pouring gas into the fireplace trying to keep warm.
There is no humor in this. She has no means of support. Her pension is tied up in red tape in a bankrupt city that no one cares about. She has no transportation. She takes the bus standing for hours in all types of weather going somewhere important only to her. Unfortunately, she is of sane mind. If she were not , we could do something. To her benefit is her appearence. She looks the part of a bag lady. This means people think she has nothing. Thus, for the most part- leave her alone. They do steal everything she has, but thankfully leave her body alone. We live four hours away from her. We visit when we can or when needed. We have had to rescue her many times. The last time she fell off the bus. Her other son took her to the hospital. While she was in the hospital, he walked into her house stole all of her money and anything not nailed down. A couple days later, the hospital called my husband. They informed him they were seeking a relative of hers. They were going to place her in a facility if no one claimed her. Like she was a package. We sent a friend to get her. Together they entered her house to find it ramsacked. Her other son even stole her generator. It was her sole source of heat. The temperature was already in the teens. She cried and cried. We picked her up and took her home with us-again. She stilled cried. “How could my son do this to me?” She said tears dripping down her wrinkleless checks. “Why?” I put my earphones in as did my daughter. My husband drove. Thankfully, she soon fell asleep.
Perhaps we appear heartless. But her other son thinks she is an ATM. He continues to steal her blind as he has done for years. He is her baby. She is a church going woman. Always forgiving him in or out of jail. Not me! Once he threated to kill me and hurt my daughter, I was done with him. He is a thief. He is a drug dealer. He is a gambler. What is there to trust? My husband has never, ever raised his voice at his mother regardless of what she does or does not do. However, the next day she knocked on the door to the lower level where her room was. She wanted to know what we were going to do for her baby boy?
My husband went ballistic! He started cussing every word he knew and some he invented. “Don’t you ask me about that fucker! He is dead to me after what he has done to you. Do not ever say his name in my presence ever again. He is a damn asshole fucker? How can you still care? He left you in the hospital, went to your house and stole what you need to live. He does not care about you; nor, did he inquire about your health. You would have frozen to death! We would have found your lifeless body in that shitty, dilapitdated, comdemned house you call a home. Why?”
He went on for twenty minutes screaming at her at the top of his lungs. Our daughter, the dogs or certainly not me, did not move the entire time. I have never seen him so enraged. My quiet, gentle softspoken husband- lost his mind in anger. When he was done, his mom closed her door and returned to her room. I could hear her crying. I waited a hour or two then knocked and entered her room. I held her while she cried. I told her it was time to stop crying. I reminded her she had two other crildren who needed her support. Her youngest deprived her from truly knowing the lives of her other children. I explained it was time to let the other son go. Enough was enough. We talked. I left.
After that she got better. I watched her fill up the spot in her heart like sand fills a hole in the desert’s bleekness. Thankfully, soon she was back to her regular self. I do not know what my husband said to her about his outburst that day. But other than that twenty minutes- he is the perfect son. We never talked about it. Unbelieveably, my mother in law, outwitted us all again. She is back in her beloved house-as worthless as it is. It is her home. She is a survivor. She believes in God. She living life the way she wants. I guess that is enough for now.