06 September 2010

And you're full of doubt

A holiday here in the U.S., the one that officially marks the end of the summer season. One of those Monday holidays that will leave me guessing for the remainder of the week what day it actually is.

Thus, it was a day for familial duty, lunch with the spouse's parents, and my monthly visit to clean up my MIL's computers and make them run properly again.

My octogenarian in-laws are a bit like toddlers with more skills and resources. I don't say that to be nasty or disrespectful. I worry about them, especially as I've seen them really age in the last few years (my own mother, who is quite a bit younger, is sufficiently far away that I can't actually see what's going on with her, and one of my younger sisters lives near her, so I know that if there were a problem, I'd probably hear about it). I don't feel like there is much that I can do for my in-laws as the wife of the youngest son (especially with other complications related to other family members), so I make encouraging noises about the gerontology department at the local hospital, nutritional counseling, and special programs for people over 65.

And I worry. And I show up and fix the computers and listen carefully to what they say and make gentle (and occasionally, at-my-wits-end) suggestions, thinking about their health and safety, trying to maintain enough distance not to seem intrusive.

Most importantly, I don't let my teenagers shirk these visits, though I know that these days, they'd prefer to do so. But these two kids are the light of their grandparents' lives. My in-laws haven't always been easy to deal with, but one of the best things I've ever done is to ensure that my children have a strong relationship with their grandparents, and it hurts to remind them that someday, their grandparents won't be here to share in their lives.

Still I fret, and wonder if there is more I should be doing for them.

Go listen to some good music: "School" from the album Crime of the Century by Supertramp. My MIL and I had a very uneasy relationship early on, but I think the day that things started to change was the day that I went after a street vendor in Cartagena who wouldn't leave off harassing her. I was hugely pregnant, my maternal protection instincts in high gear, and you want speaking in tongues? She couldn't understand a word I said, but he certainly could.

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