Many years into our marriage, our conversation around parents always went like this, "Your Mom said this and that" or "Your Dad did this not that" It was not very helpful in building relationships. Though I am good with people I couldn't take some of the conversations very well which only made matters worse. But few years ago, I consciously made an effort to build the bridge. Baggage claim and Garbage collections are results of that realization.
I credit my own sisters-in-law (girls who have married my brothers) for my change of heart. Both Vijaya and Viniba are such darlings. They are very cheerful, fun-loving with all of us and love our parents. They stay with us when we visit, cook for us, feed us, take us places, buy us things, talk to us, write to us, love our children, you name it.
I started with letters first.It sure helped. Though there would be no response I would write - not very frequently but every now and then with all the news of kids, school stuff, friends, their new babies etc. To tell you the truth in the last few years I have come from being neutral to slowly like and lately love my in-laws.
I would be the first to wish on festival times, instead of saying, "Yeah, it is Christmas for them too, let them call", Would call randomly to talk regular stuff. Above all I learnt to 'be still' meaning not rushing in to say something. It was not easy being still at first; it seemed like I'd lost or I was without words or that I was failing an argument by keeping quiet. What I didn't realize was that I was actually winning hearts. It all worked for the best and softened all hearts - including mine.
I had wonderful moment visiting them all this summer and I felt for the first time I'd missed out on a whole lot of fun over the years. I had made up my mind to make a difference by being who I really am, instead of sitting in a corner aloof and indifferent, licking my past wounds. I honestly wanted to bring fun and cheer back in the family just like my childhood family instead of complaining, "It's such a bore at your place, no one even smiles".
Right now as we "speak" my mother-in-law is in her death bed and I am truly hurt. I am at loss for words or actions. Nothing I can do now to bring her back to life hale and healthy as she used to be. Anything that once offended me all seem like it was not an issue anymore. I am truly sorry for all the missed opportunities to have spent quality time with her. She loved my letters it seems. May be I should have written more often, may be I should have visited often, stayed with her couple of more days... I am sorry I never told her I love her, did I at least show her I love her? Not too sure.
Too many things going on in my mind right now, mostly regrets. But then you know what? Years ago I wrote to her a big sorry letter and that is my only consolation. I hope and pray that her last moment be quick, that she doesn't suffer longer than she has.
I am truly blessed to have her as my Mother-in-love! She has given me the most wonderful gift - her own son! Nothing really matters in life folks, only life matters. Everything else we care for stays behind, only the life returns to eternity.