My sweet 91 year old mother-in-law recently left her own home and moved in with my husband's brother and his family. She had fought hard to stay independent all these years, but finally surrendered to the fact that it was time for her to quit fighting so hard and allow others help her be safe, secure, and no longer alone. My brother-in-law and wife have two young school-age children, and the challenges of having a 91 year old grandma living under the same roof with two very active kids can sometimes be difficult to navigate.
So, the kids had a long weekend off from school, and the family wanted (needed) to get away for a little while. And "Nanny" (Grandma) came to stay with us for the weekend. Now, at first I will tell you that I had planned to go ahead and go to the memorial service on Friday as planned. My husband could stay at home with his mother and everything would be fine. But when she arrived the evening before, I took one look at her and realized that I could not leave her for several hours while I traveled to another county for that service. She was like a frightened, anxious, clinging child. Yes, she is showing signs of dementia...not severe, but enough to create anxiety and forgetfulness and childish behavior at times. There was no way I could look into her eyes and tell her that I was going to leave her even for a short while when she was already feeling like she was being "sent away" for the weekend from her new home. Now, please do not misunderstand. Her son and family did not ever intentionally make her feel that way. They have been so very loving and caring and gracious with her. But they truly needed a break with their kids. And we wanted them to be able to do that and we definitely wanted her to come spend some time with us.
And so I had a choice to make. It didn't take me very long to recognize what I needed to do. She never even knew that I had other plans, and that's the way I wanted it to remain. I am not telling you this to ask for any praise or otherwise. But my hope is that it will help others in similar situations realize what is more important. My will vs. helping someone feel comforted and secure.
|My sweet mother-in-law, enjoying a special moment holding|
my "Baby Elva"...a gift from a good friend
As the weekend progressed, we had many opportunities to share precious memories and show love for one another. She demonstrated and responded to me in so many ways her love for me as her daughter in law for these many years. I think there was a lot more going on here than just taking care of my mother in law for the weekend. As it turned out, we invited some other mutual friends and family over for a special lunch on Saturday, and she helped me in so many little ways to prepare for our guests. We put on a gospel music CD and harmonized together as I cooked and she chopped onions and dried dishes for me. We laughed about little things and generally enjoyed spending time together.
I had an opportunity to share with her some things that I have thought about for a long time in regards to my relationship to her. And here you will see that the first part of this particular post intertwines with the second part:
We were talking about the names of my mother in law's parents, grandparents, and her own given name. Her middle name is "Ruth". She said she thought she was named for a friend of her mother's whose name was Ruth. I told her that I always thought she was named for Ruth in the Bible...you know, the "Book of Ruth". She was very pleased with that thought and had never considered it before. I explained to her the reason I connected her middle name Ruth with the Ruth in the Bible was because the story of Ruth was not just a love story of Ruth and Boaz, but also a love story of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Then I shared with her that the song that was sung at our wedding...sung by my friend, the daughter of my pastor who had just died...the song that she sang came directly from the Book of Ruth...and even though it was sung as a bride singing to her groom, in reality, the words were written and spoken by Ruth to her mother-in-law Naomi, when Ruth's husband had died and Naomi's husband had also died and she was going to go back to her native land and so she told Ruth to stay with her own family in her own land. These are the words I shared with my mother-in-law, the words spoken by Ruth to her mother-in-law in the 10th century B.C.:
Go HERE for another post about my wonderful Mother in Law