I pulled on size 3 yellow Marigolds and with the aid of my ‘Amazing Results Every Time’ grime buster, attacked my oven with grand aplomb. My intent to give it some oomph! My mother-in-law, one of those picky types who believe that nothing works bar elbow grease, would have nothing but admiration for me. She would note the way I toiled and laboured in an act of selfless devotion in order to pamper her precious baby; my husband of twenty five years!
My head was splitting, up the back of my neck and over the top: “Tension.” I muttered. “This is what that woman does to me Charlie … still does to me … will always do to me!” Charlie stretched out his front paws and stuck his bottom in the air. “That’s what I think too.” I added.
I am a leading authority/ martyr in the department of family dynamics. I’ll never be good enough for her son. There was no one to fit the bill for my own mother’s sons. She saw to that. I accept the fact that mothers will never let go.
I’m over it. Grrrrrr. Maybe!
A sudden bout of dizziness struck me. I pulled my head out of the oven and straightened up. A nauseating wooziness came over me. My eyes wouldn’t focus. I called for Jeff but the words were jumbled. I heard the blood pumping, bursting on my eardrums. I panicked.
In a dreamlike awareness, I saw myself in unfamiliar surroundings, yet somehow recognisable. People scurried, their noise hurt my ears and I needed the loo. I tried to walk but my right leg buckled. I called but no words came, only gibberish; unintelligible babble. I so wanted to wake from this crazy dream. I called ever louder. I tried to mop the drool from my mouth but my arm wouldn’t go there. I was scared. Really scared!
Pam, Jeff’s mother was here already. She looked stunned, staring down at me. A hazy recollection surfaced--my grubby oven. ‘She’s here too soon.’ I thought. ‘I’m not done yet.’
“Suzy.” Her words were calm; measured. “It’s okay Suzy; relax. You’re in good hands.” What’s this woman banging on about now? I tried to claw my way out of my half sleep; step out of the bewilderment zone. I yelled at her: “Chemicals … I’m poisoned.” But the sound didn’t come.
Jeff sidled into the room. He looked ashen, his fingers trembling as he took my hand. A fleeting insight suggested I was lying in bed. Not our bed. Not our room. Or was it our room? Heaven forbid! Our room; his mother?
Jeff’s left eye began to twitch. With an implausible smile, he told me that I’d suffered a ‘little bleed’ into my brain. I was in hospital and everything was ‘just fine.’
A trolley rumbled by and stopped. The nurse offered someone a bedpan. “I need one desperately.” I half squealed and wailed. The nurse deciphered my gobbledegook.
“No Suzy, you have a little tube there instead. Just until we get you mobilised a bit.”
The ‘bit’ was a long time coming. Jeff had to return to work and our daughter lived 500 miles away. But his mother was as free as a bird.
That nit picking woman; that nagging, persistent itch under my skin, who constantly scrutinised my capacity to care for her dear Geoffrey, my Jeff; that same ogre visited me daily until the day I was discharged.
She read to me, prayed for me; brushed my hair and cried with me. Her devotion was beyond the call of duty. I watched the shadows darken beneath her eyes. I noted the gaunt facial appearance and deepening furrow in her brow. I saw compassion and empathy in her eyes, qualities I thought she was incapable of.
Incredibly, I began to care about this woman, care deeply, but the stroke had robbed me of proper speech. I couldn’t tell her. I watched helplessly as she ran herself into the ground--for me!
How senseless. How futile; two grown women jealous of the other’s rightful and proper relationship with one man; both too stubborn to submit.
Shortly before my discharge home Pam came, sat beside me and said nothing at all. Her unprecedented eruption of sobbing; tears gushing down her cheeks, was followed by mine. Words were unnecessary. We knew in our hearts what we’d done to each other.
And we knew in our spirits that God had worked a miracle.
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