Slice of Life Day 16: Doing Family

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hThis month I am blogging daily with Two Writing Teachers. Find more Slices of Life here.

Doing family.
Where it all begins,
and
if you’re lucky,
you’re nurtured,
and
you nurture.
You celebrate,
fight,
forgive (eventually),
support,
and
do it all again,
and
again,
and
if you’re lucky,
again.
Until you
grieve.
This is doing family.

Today we helped my father-in-law and mother-in-law separate. He into a memory care facility, her into her daughter’s home.

Today my relationship with my in-laws shifted. I’ve known them over 30 years. They have been strong and independent most of those years. They have been parents. During their troubles, I have kept a respectful distance. Partly because I was afraid to hurt their pride, partly because I was afraid my help would be insufficient, partly because I was afraid to take on a different role. Mostly I was just afraid.

But today, when my father-in-law fell I was the only one there and our relationship shifted, without a thought. I coached and reassured him through his “I can’t move moment” until he got moving again, to his chair and his sports section.

Today when my mother-in-law said, I don’t know what to do, we talked as confidants about stress, anger, anxiety, shame.

Today when my mother-in-law stood worrying in the room that was slowly being taken a part as she stood in it, I asked her about the book she was reading.  For a while there were no worries. We escaped. 

Today when my sister-in-law took on the huge responsibility of the day-to-day with her mother, I was humbled by her unspoken statement of commitment: I am her daughter.

And today when we left my father-in-law in his new single apartment, I didn’t let my thoughts go to the 67 years of marriage because I couldn’t do that around them. My mother-in-law kissed him good bye and released him to strangers. Now I can cry.

14 thoughts on “Slice of Life Day 16: Doing Family

  1. I have a lump in my throat and a heavy heart, Julianne. This sounds like one of the most challenging days any of us can go through as a part of a family. Thankfully you’re all there to support each other.

    Thinking of you as your family transitions.

  2. We talked as confidants
    as comrades in the present
    with words hushed and tender
    and urgent, both of us knowing
    that when we fell silent, a decision
    would have to be made, and so
    each word had meaning, each
    embrace, a lasting memory we
    would not likely ever forget.

    -Kevin
    PS — lifting lines for poems, and hoping that your world settles down as best as it can, too.

  3. I am teary. Thank you for sharing this very personal moment with all of us. I hope that writing about it gave you a chance to let go of some of it. Kudos to you for all you do.

  4. Sorry that your loved ones have to do this, such a difficult decision for everyone. You wrote this so lovingly Julieanne, my thoughts are with you in this journey.

  5. I have tears rolling down my cheeks. Your roles have indeed shifted. You are now one of the parents. Your post is a glowing tribute to the difficult path you took towards their separation I know it….it is one of life’s very, very hard decisions.

  6. I was very close to my in-laws and have been in your shoes. It is not easy and I would be lying if I said it will get easier. It doesn’t. But hold on to those memories. Enjoy every moment. Write them down. I wish I would have been writing while they were still living. Now it is too late. Don’t be afraid. Find the strength from down deep to love each day.

  7. Yeah, it is a little breath-taking, the big moments on the other end of the rainbow… and how lucky you are to be there for them all, your husband included. How lucky for them to have you. I remember sitting at the foot of my father’s bed, a few days before he died. My mom was sitting next to me, and we were looking at pictures on the “our family picture” wall, which was right next to his bed- picking out our favorite hair disaster pictures. Laughing. And then she sighed, got up, and patted me on the knee, and as she walked out, she said, “It all went so fast.” Indeed. Peace to you and your family tonight Julieanne.

  8. Been there and still going through this with my parents. In the special place and now out again. It is extremely hard and very, very sad. I don’t know what is worse…losing my mother-in-law suddenly last summer or watching this sad, sad loss of memory for my mom. xo

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