Monday, April 16, 2012

Honor thy Father and Mother

Sometimes, the rules that people want to force everybody else to live by are just complete bullshit.

Anybody who's been reading my stuff for a while would assume that I'd be about to embark on a rant about the current mangy pack of theocrats, or the anti-abortion crew, or some other group of modern-day fascists. And you'd be wrong.

Somewhere between taxes and the random family crisis, I haven't had a whole lot of blogging in my life for the past few weeks. As a hint about one of them, I'm going to have to give you some background.

I have been known to occasionally babble on (endlessly) about my wife, because she's one of the only truly admirable people I have ever met (and I've met a lot of people - not all by choice, but that's neither here nor there). But the fact that this is true is practically a miracle.

My father-in-law was also a good person, and probably the source of the Trophy Wife's awesomeness. The record isn't clear about when he realized that he'd found himself trapped in a loveless marriage with a crazy woman, but he stayed in it for the sake of the children, until my wife was in her late teens (16 to 18, if it matters - I don't remember, and I'm not going to ask her).

My mother-in-law, Ann, on the other hand, has never been a good person, and when her husband divorced her, she went completely off the deep end (assuming she wasn't there already).

The Trophy Wife doesn't remember when her mother began threatening suicide, but as they moved from one cheap rental place to another (usually just ahead of the eviction notice), it was often a daily occurrence. And it wasn't subtle, or any kind of hidden threat, either: "If you ever leave me, I'll kill myself."

I won't dwell on the drug-dealer who lived with them for a while, or any of the other multi-layered slices of idiocy that this woman laid on her daughter. I will point out that when I married her, living on a military base was a bonus, because Ann couldn't stand to be inside a fence that was guarded by guys with guns.

Going to Germany for seven years was a great idea for any number of reasons - one of which was the number of phone calls went down after the first few phone bills full of transatlantic calls. (Yes, this is a woman who would call four and five times a day. Not because she had a reason, or anything to say - she just couldn't let go.)

My mother-in-law was (and sometimes is) a self-absorbed, manipulative bitch; her propensity for rewriting her past has blossomed into full-on delusion these days. As her mental capacity has diminished, she has started to believe the lies she has told and the random fantasies she has occasionally imagined for herself.

Ann has hinted in the past that she wants to move to Albuquerque. And aside from the fact that we don't have room for her, there's actually one simple truth that prevents her from coming here - the town is full of Catholics and Mexicans. She can't stand either one (or blacks, or Muslims, or pretty much anybody on the planet).

My wife can hardly stand to talk to her mother - she tenses up so badly that her back starts to spasm, and her hands are often shaking when she hangs up the phone. But she still manages to talk cheerfully to what little remains of this evil woman. She recounts her week, giving all the little details and mildly funny stories. And then hanging up and cursing, or staring off into space. Or pouring herself a brandy.

I don't know how the years spent with that poisonous, hateful woman didn't break my wife, but she managed to become the most important person in my life. She is invariably kind, gentle and loving, even when she can barely move for the pain. When I have been at my best, I still barely rise to the level of her worst.

Of all the idiocy found in the Ten Commandments, I have come to have no use for one of them. "Honor thy Father and Mother," my ass. Respect is earned.


Sheria Reid said...

I don't really get into any of the big ten, but from what you have described, it sounds as if your wife has more than fulfilled the stated obligation of honor thy father and thy mother. Living with a mentally ill person is difficult and when that person is a parent, it is sheer hell at times.

It is refreshing to read words that indicate such love and respect for one's spouse. Your wife sounds like an admirable and loving woman.

StevenK said...

Your wife (and you as well, by extension) has my genuine sympathy, Bill. What your excuse for a mother-in-law has been doing to her is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, and makes me appreciate all the more what great parents I have. Here's hoping she (your mother-in-law, not your wife) gets the professional help she desperately needs.