By Stan Stewart.
April Fool’s Day coming up: My Mother-in-law – No Joke! Mother-in-laws - the butt of hundreds of jokes.
A husband and wife had a fight.
Wife called her Mum: "He fought with me again, I am coming to stay with you."
Mum: "No dear, he must pay for his mistake. I am coming to stay with you!"
I played dozens of jokes and tricks on my mother-in-law, Eileen.
‘De-soft toying’ of Eileen’s apartment. Eileen kept her apartment spotless and it was always full of soft toys. It was like a department store, soft toy display. In every room, on every shelf, soft toys smiled at you (no scary ones). They were the everyday fluffy toys of the Kmart variety. There were many Aussie birds and animals and Disney characters bought as gifts from children and grandchildren. Eileen would talk to them, and at the push of a button, some of them would talk back or sing, even dance. One day, when my wife had taken Eileen on a shopping trip, I decided to ‘de-soft toy’ her apartment. I hid all of the toys and created a ‘soft toy free ‘apartment.
As soon as Eileen returned home, she knew I had been up to no good. I denied her gentle accusations but my wife’s ire at seeing her Mother’s feelings hurt, broke me down. However, for a few minutes I thought it was a great joke.
Although Eileen was almost totally without guile, she knew how to irritate me. She was a committed fan of Andre Rieu, the king of live orchestral waltz. She didn’t have to say a word or do anything; simply play this extraordinarily irritating (to me) Dutchman on CD or DVD and she had me on edge. If ever I started being too smart, out would come Andre and I became impatient to leave.
When she was in her late 80’s, my wife took Eileen to see Andre Rieu at one of his huge
shows. It was a major undertaking, thousands of seniors with hundreds of walking frames
and wheelchairs. Despite my personal aversion I have to say, he put on a wonderful show
with a generous 30 minutes of encores. Eileen forgot her aches and pains and throughout the
show and the encores, she stood up and danced and sang.
My greatest fun with Eileen did not involve me at all. Eileen had lived a simple life and
going out to restaurants was not something she was familiar with. My wife decided as a
token of appreciation she wanted to treat her mum to a wonderful meal. As Eileen was
indecisive about exactly where she wanted to go, we went to a large serve-yourself restaurant where every kind of meal was catered for – roasts, pizzas, sea food, salads, Italian, Asian and desserts to die for. You were given large plates and told to serve yourself from an enormous buffet. We encouraged Eileen to go to the buffet by herself (no pressure) and choose her own ideal meal. She was away for ten minutes and returned with an empty plate. My wife was slightly irritated. This dream meal was turning into a nightmare. She took over and escorted Eileen to the buffet. However, Eileen still returned with an empty plate. My wife now near boiling said, “Mum, what do you
want?” After a long pause, in a low voice, close to a whisper, she replied. “A toasted tomato
sandwich.” Now that was one dish the restaurant did not supply. The explosion and its
aftermath went on for two days during which time I was left in blissful peace.
As a new born, Eileen was abandoned in a box on the steps of a Brisbane hospital. She was raised in a variety of institutions and foster homes – some reasonable, some not so good. She was never adopted. At 18, she married a returned soldier of sterling character, Jim, with whom she had 12 children, 9 surviving. With her large family, she lived her life in various working class housing situations. Faithful and married to the end, Jim had become a sick man from his war injuries and needed care. Although she could keep things tidy, she could not cook nor do most of the chores Mothers usually do. In this situation, her children raised themselves and each other. All they required of her was to be there for them but keep out of the way in their crowded dwelling.
Think of this – ten adult children, some married, some divorced and remarried, some living with partners and one alone. Then there are the grandchildren, their spouses or partners and great
grandchildren. When she died there were 28 grandchildren with partners and 32 great grandchildren.
In some ways, it might appear Eileen was not smart. But she was! She never forgot a name or a birthday, but her greatest strength was love. She loved us all, whatever our life situation – married, divorced, not married, in trouble, in jail, drinking too much, having a breakdown, unemployed etc., she loved us all, forgave all and we knew it. I can remember her smile and welcome to me, even after I had been a ‘smart arse’ to her. It never stuck in her mind – she just loved me. My mother-in-law Eileen was a gift to all of us. Believe it or not, in our memories, she is a gift that keeps on giving – even now.
Here's another mother-in-law joke!
* There are no mother-in-law jokes. They are all true.