I think another one of the many reasons I may have been able to stay married for 41 years is that I never had any mother-in-law problems. I will try to write this without trashing her. Suffice it to say that my husband demanded respect for me and I got it.
Even though we went to high school together, I didn’t start to date him until our senior year. He asked me out on a date one month after his father died. So his mother was probably raw nerved and frightened. Her baby was taking out a girl. What did that mean for her? She felt abandoned right away. Anyone who knows me knows that I can be loving and kind and embrace the most difficult to embrace. She was of that genre. She hated me from first sight. I struggled with that for years, not understanding what I did that was so unusual outside of marrying her son.
And then she died. About one year afterward, a rather shocking thing happened. A young woman from Texas contacted us to find out if Jim was his mother’s son. It turned out that this woman, Lu Ann, was the daughter of Anne, who had been given up for adoption by none other than my mother-in-law! Well, Jim was flabbergasted. Everyone knew my mother-in-law was a pillar of virtue. She told me enough times. Anne and Lu Ann are lovely women, but the story doesn’t end there. It turned out that the sweet little old lady had many, many children that she gave up for adoption. And they were coming out of the woodwork left and right.
It finally became too much for my husband. He chose not to be involved and I had to respect that choice. I felt a little weird about not pursuing a relationship with the four half brothers and sisters we knew of, but let it go. Lu Ann continued to send us pictures and stay in touch for several years after.
Segue to the present. I was going through the hundreds of pictures we have and came across a package that Lu Ann had sent. Among them was a great picture of Jim’s half brother, Tim and his wife Hedy, on their boat. Next to the boat was a big sign that said, Saugatuck Yacht Club. It sort of took my breath away because we live five or six miles from it now.
Since their boat was docked so close, I decided to go to Switchboard.com and see what I could find. Surprise! They live 4.6 miles from us!!! I told Jim who had a change of heart about involvement. This might be yet another twist to our move to Michigan. Jim, who had no family we knew of, had family again.
I made the call to Hedy and Tim and they were loving and welcoming. We went to their home first and had a nice visit. Then we went to dinner with them. Tim looks a lot like my mother-in-law, and has the same inflections in his voice as she did. He and Jim have many parallels in their lives. They were both aircraft mechanics in the Air Force and went to Vietnam. They have many common interests. They want to get to know each other.
I really like Hedy. German born, she is diminutive and soft spoken. I let the F bomb fly during dinner, so they know me already. Might as well show it like it is. Plus, she knits! How lucky am I?
So we have family right here in west Michigan. I like that. Tim said he has many stories about his mother and believes there are many more than the four other half brothers and sisters. I’m not sure Jim is ready for that, but we shall see. I can’t wait to spend time with them again.
Note: Jim gives his full approval of me outing the family. He said I could get down and get dirty, but come on, I have to live in this community! Give the people time to know me, first!