Friday, March 25, 2016

My Mother-In-Law

It was slightly over a year ago when my mother-in-law collapsed in her living room. She was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance where she spent the next few days under doctors' supervision, and then when she was discharged, my wife sought my permission for her mom to come live with us. I replied in the affirmative immediately.

Although I've been married for over 20 years, I'm a little embarrassed to say that I did not really know my parents-in-law that well. Apart from knowing that my mother-in-law is a gullible person, there wasn't much more that I knew about her; and I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't at least a little worried about what I would find out about her. Of course I make the rules in my home and I made it crystal clear to my wife from the very beginning that I wasn't gonna do something just to please her mom; I would be myself still, and if her mom gets offended by something that I've done or said, then that's just too bad!

During the one year since my mother-in-law moved to my house, I've learned a lot more about her. I can confirm that she is indeed a gullible woman, but there's more than that, of course. She is perhaps 90% deaf, and suffers from issues related to old age such as forgetfulness—she can never remember to switch off the lights, fans and TV, for example. She also regularly forgets to close the water tap, thus resulting in emptying our water tank.

She has the habit of being the commentator whenever we watch TV together. Of course she spends almost the whole day sitting in front of the TV watching reruns after reruns on Astro, and by the time I want to watch a programme, she probably knows the scripts by heart already, and simply can't control herself from wanting to tell what comes next. I'm sometimes tempted to keep reminding her not to spoil the show, but unfortunately she's either too deaf to hear what I'm saying, or she's just too forgetful to remember what she's told. In due course, when I'm stuck in the traffic jam on my way home from work, my mind starts to wonder; and I'd imagine stuff like buying a duct tape to be used when I'm watching TV at home. Traffic jams, as you probably already know, can give rise to ugly thoughts!

But sometimes she does get tired of watching reruns too; and she'd read the Bible instead, or she'd doze off on the sofa while the TV is watching her sleep. I'm guessing that the sounds from the TV has a soothing effect on her ears, as are lullabies to babies, even though it's practically impossible for her to understand what the sounds are all about, thanks to her deafness.

Conversations with my mother-in-law may sound a lot like a broken record player, since one has to repeat like a hundred times before she's able to grasp what is being said; and like most old folks, she has the tendency to repeat and keep repeating the same topic over and over again. If one is not careful, his blood pressure may shoot through the roof from just having a conversation with my mother-in-law.

Having one's mother-in-law living under the same roof is not for the faint-hearted. To be fair, however, not all mothers-in-law are like mine, because I've seen some old women her age, and found that they're still quite sane. But I'm proud to say that I've survived for a year, and I'm confident that I can survive a lot longer too. People have been asking me how I did it, and my answer has always been the same—I treat my mother-in-law sympathetically, and always bearing in mind that one of these days I will become old and sick like her too. When and if that happens, I'd imagine that I would appreciate it very much if the young ones could also understand why I'm like that.

Getting old, sick and senile can be quite scary. Sometimes, I catch myself observing my mother-in-law from the dining table as she's watching TV and I'm overwhelmed with feeling pity for her. And then again my mind starts to wonder, and I am horrified by the thought that my wife may end up looking like her mom one of these days! Damn all these scary thoughts!

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