My mother-in-law was a woman who exuded dignity, respect, and honor. A special kind of reverence washed over me every time I was in her presence. She was noble; full of integrity—a no-nonsense type of woman, which is why I was so baffled at how much she enjoyed hearing, “LaRae Stories.”
I amused her, I suppose. Never before had she known someone as clueless as me. Coming from her, I always took that as a compliment.
Case in point: When my MIL was in the hospital recovering from surgery on her stomach, Hubby and I went to visit her. Two of her daughters were there (my sisters-in-law), . . . aww, they are such good children, always there to see to her needs, talk to her, listen to her, and egg me on.
Her room was full of family. I felt lucky they let me in through marriage. My MIL’s stomach, of course, was sore and tender. She could hardly breathe without discomfort, let alone laugh. I was alerted, beforehand, by her son who I happened to be married to, to not make her laugh. To ‘try to avoid my Doofus behavior.’
Me: “What’re you talking about?”
Hubby: “You know what I mean.”
Me: “You think I’m dumb on purpose?”
Hubby: “No one can be that dumb and function like you can.”
Me: “Is that a compliment?”
Hubby: “Um, yah?”
Me: “Thank you. I thought I was gonna have to be mad at you for a minute. I’ll be on my best behavior. As usual.”
Hubby: “That’s what I’m worried about.”
Me: “What did you say?”
Hubby: “Um, I said, ‘My mother, I’m worried about.’”
I shook my head. That actually made sense.
All was going well until SIL, June looked at my tomato red face and asked, “How’d your face get so sunburned?”
Me: “I spent a few hours outside yesterday watching the Thunderbirds practice.”
SIL: “The Thunderbirds? I didn’t know they were in town.”
Hubby: “They’re not. I found LaRae outside lounging on her chair with her head tilted straight up towards the sky. She’s not supposed to be in the sun, you know. She’s sort of allergic.”
Me: “I was watching the Thunderbirds.”
Hubby: (Turned to his sister) “She was watching a bunch of seagulls flying around.”
Me: “Yah, but they looked like the Thunderbirds until you ruined it for me.”
SIL: “How’d he ruin it for you?”
Me: “He told me I was watching a bunch of seagulls. I was quite impressed with the flight patterns until I found out I was watching seagulls.”
The room erupted in laughter.
My MIL lightly held her stomach and said, “Don’t make me laugh.”
“Sorry,” I said.
SIL: “Let’s change the subject.”
SIL: “Did you hear about Aunt Maggie’s eye falling out onto the table at the Founder’s Banquet the other day?”
Other SIL: Giggled. “There was a bunch of dignitaries seated at her table. She was talking, then all of a sudden her eyeball fell out.”
My husband and sisters laughed. I didn’t think it was funny. How horrible. I couldn’t imagine how awful it would be to suddenly have your eyeball fall out.
Me: “A few years ago, a friend of mine was asked to substitute teach a preschool. One of the little boys there was blind. And . . . I think maybe deaf. I can’t remember.
Hubby: “You’re thinking of Helen Keller.”
Me: “Oh, right. This little boy was just blind. My friend had all the little kids sitting on a row of chairs when all of a sudden, the blind boy—his name was Trey—took out one of his eyes and put it on his lap.
My friend screamed. She didn’t know what to do, so she put a piece of paper over his eye so the other kids wouldn’t look at it . . . but, his eye was fake. It was a glass eye.”
Dead silence filled the room. June, Jane, Hubby, and MIL exchanged knowing glances. Their mouths gaped wide open too.
SIL: “Do you mean you think Aunt Maggie’s real eyeball just fell out onto the table?”
Gut busting roars pierced my ears. My MIL folded over, holding her stomach. “Stop it. Stop it. It hurts. Don’t make me laugh.”
“What?” I asked innocently.
SIL: “Aunt Maggie has a glass eye. She’s had one for years.” She fell off her chair, onto her knees.
MIL: (Laughed/Moaned) “I can’t laugh. It’s killing me. My stitches.”
Hubby: “LaRae and I will go now.” Hubby helped me out of my chair and quickly escorted me out of the hospital room before I even knew what had happened.
Me: “I didn’t even get a chance to say, ‘good-bye.’”
Hubby: “I know. Trust me. It’s for the best.”
On the way out of the hospital, over the intercom we heard a lady asking for a surgeon to go to the very room we left—my mother-in-law’s room. “I wonder what that’s all about. Maybe we should go back.”
Hubby calmly replied, “I’m sure it’s just to repair a few sutures.”
Me: “How do you know that?”
Hubby: “Trust me. I know.”
“Hmmppff.” I bit my tongue so I wouldn’t say anything rude. Sometimes my husband thinks he knows more than he does. It bothers me. It really does.