Monday, June 11, 2012

A face

It was a rainy weekend and any plans that Tetsu and I had got thrown out the window. For the most part we stayed at home and watched TV and napped. BORING!!! (I know... I should have gone upstairs and sewed but the sofa was so inviting.) We did stop in to see Tetsu's mother.

My poor mother-in-law. She has to deal with the challenges of independent living, poor health and a daughter-in-law sneaking up on her wielding a camera. She didn't actually tell me to stop yesterday (sometimes she does) and I took advantage of her good mood.

So what does her face tell you about her? I have heard the saying that up until age 40 your face is what God has given you but from 40 on, your face is what you make it... And I don't mean make-up! I mean that the smile wrinkles are there because the person smiles a lot or the worry lines are there because the person worries a lot. The extra rolls of flab may be due to too much overeating, the sparkle in the eye because of a curiosity about life.

When Tetsu's mother was young, she was a fiery oldest daughter that wasn't about to behave properly. She has related stories of getting her first hair permanent and being locked in the house by her father for weeks. She refused to marry the man her father had chosen and ran away from home to live at an aunt's house. Somewhere along the line she ended up in China during the war and was severely injured which disabled her for life and this has colored her world negatively. She hates her pronounced limp and shys away from meeting people or going out. Tetsu says his father often did the community and school tasks that the woman in a family would normally do just because his mother disliked having to socialize.

In Tetsu's youth, his parents were quite well off and Tetsu's mother acted and was treated like a pampered lady but not long before Tetsu's father died, the business went under and the "lady" was left with debts and bitterness. And none of her children turned out wealthy enough to keep her comfortable so now she shamefully lives alone in minimum surroundings. And to be truthful, her negativeness has kept all her children at a safe distance so that is why we "visit".

Tetsu likes me to come with him when he goes to visit his mother. When he visits her alone, he comes home angry and stressed out. He claims she is more cheerful when I am there, maybe making an effort to think of happier things. Though we have had our disagreements I think Obaachan and I both try hard not to let the carefully balanced relationship between us teeter. I know I am careful about what I say with Obaachan and she seems to try and keep her conversations light with me. Tetsu and I visit and assure her that we appreciate her efforts to live alone, we are awed by her mental clarity (she is SO sharp about SO much!), we sympathize with the great physical suffering she goes through daily (so many aches and pains).

For all that, I think my mother-in-law is quite a beautiful lady for 88 and her face is etched with good memories and bad.

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