Many of the people who read my blog know that I have been divorced for a long time and I refer to my ex-husband`s Tony`s mum as, “the woman who used to be my mother in law. (TWWUTBMMIL)”
It`s ironic but Joyce has never been much of a joyous person and as she has become older, her lack of ability to experience happiness in her life has become more and more evident. My daughter visits her every weekend and cleans her house and tidies up and puts her clothes away and really loves her nan. The grandchildren find her waspish manners and bellicose attitude absolutely hilarious but it grates on me. Never the less, being the kind soul that I am, I invited her to join us for a roast dinner yesterday, which was Easter day and hauled a gigantic piece of beef out of the freezer for the special occasion. I popped in it in the oven to slow cook at about 11am and began preparing the vegetables.
Tony went to pick her up and delivered her to the kitchen about four hours later. The beef was falling apart to the touch, the roasters were a crunchy, culinary delight, the parsnips absolutely perfect, the cabbage retained just a little hint of a bite and my gravy was gravy heaven. I was well pleased as I began to carve up the joint and plate it all up.
The woman who used to be my mother in law sat down and said, “What`s for starters?” I said, “Oh Joyce I haven`t prepared a starter, but it isn`t any trouble, what would you like? I can soon make you something, some soup perhaps?”
TWWUTOBMIL said, “well are you having any?” (To Tony.) Tony said he didn`t want a starter but was happy to wait if she did.
TWWUTBMMIL said, “are you having any?” (To me.) I said, no but I was more than happy to do her something and wait if she would like that.
“Well, I don`t want anything if no-one else is having any.”
I said that was fine and carried on dishing up the roast dinner. I placed a piping hot plate full of scrummy food in front of her and said, “you carry on Joyce, please don`t wait for us.” She looked at it and said, “so we`re not having a starter then?” So we re-ran the starter conversation.
Tony put Vera Lynn and Frank Sinatra on You Tube and for an hour or so we listened to music and reminisced about her growing up during WW2 rationing. Then she turned to me and said, “So is my room ready for me to stay the night?” This threw me a bit because we hadn`t had any conversation about her staying over and there was no arrangement in place. She is now 88 and our steep stairs and lack of a spare bedroom don`t make it ideal for old ladies to stay. I offered her my room. She said, “Oh, I`m only joking!” I said she could have the spare bed in the little box room but it really isn`t all that comfortable and she said no. I said, “Fair enough,” and put the television on.
After half an hour having sat wringing her hands together and periodically uttering “oh dear,” TWWUTBMMIL said to Tony, “Well I might as well go home then. If I`m not going to stay and I`m just going to be a nuisance to you both, then I might as well go.” Of course we reassured her that she was not being a nuisance but Joycey had made up her mind not to extract even a nanosecond of joy from her visit. We offered her my room again and she was having none of it. Her mouth turned down at the corners she put on her coat, briefly allowed me to hug her and then Tony took her home.
It has been like that between me and her for nearly fifty years. It baffles me, we have never had a laugh together except on one occasion when she went to bat a wasp away from my hair and batted me in the face instead which resulted in her falling about in hysterical laughter …… ho hum.
Happy Easter everyone!