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,
if you’re lucky,
you’re nurtured,
you nurture.
You celebrate,
forgive (eventually),
do it all again,
if you’re lucky,
Until you
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.