Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 20, 2013

10/20/2013 — Lee Ward: Returning the favors: helping husband’s mom through hard times

The Independent

ASHLAND — Even though my husband has been dead for more than six years, my mother-in-law is still in my life. On his death bed, I told my husband I would take care of the wild birds, the dogs and his mother. Later, she told me that she told him the same thing.

From the first time I met her, she was sweet to me and she always has been.

There are tricks for getting along, however.

First, and most obviously, you respect her. She gave birth to the person you love, so you must show her respect, the same as you would show your own mother. Maybe a little more.

You also must overlook a few things. If she gives too much advice, just smile and nod and then do what you want.

On the other hand, sometimes maybe she gives good advice. That’s when you listen.

The key, though, is your mother-in-law is like anybody else. She is an individual so you have to understand how she works to know how to work her. That’s true of everyone in the world.

My mother-in-law has always been a healthy, active person. At 82, she is spry, energetic, smart, alert lady who doesn’t need anyone’s help with anything. In fact, she has helped me more times than I can count by dog-sitting, doing laundry and being there when I’m sick.

Now, she’s in need of help. She has a torn ligament in her knee.

I know that hurts; I have ligament damage in my foot and sometimes you just have to sit down and do a little bit less that you usually do.

My mother-in-law and I have this in common: we do not like to be hobbled.

We talked the other day and she was complaining about having to sit still. I remember having some ailment accompanied by a fever and my poor husband had to take care of me. Every time my temperature went down a little and I felt better, I jumped out of bed and tried to do something. Finally, he lectured me as though I were 7 years old and made me go back to bed. It was good that he had experience with his mother so he knew what he was dealing with.

Now that she has an injury that requires rest, she’s struggling, not only with being forced to get more rest, but with having to rely on someone else for her groceries and getting to the doctor.

But I’m enjoying it. Not the part about her being in pain or frustrated by immobility. I’m enjoying being able to help her by bringing her food and taking her where she needs to go and run errands for her, even if she asks me for very little. I think it’s about time I could do something for her.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.