Yesterday was my mother-in-law's birthday.. the same as the Japanese emperor's birthday! My mother-in-law is 88 (I think the emperor is 79) .
My mother-in-law and I have a comfortable relationship. However... I don't know about her, but if I said all the things I wanted to, our relationship could go to pot quickly. There are times when I just have to take a couple weeks vacation from her complaining and negativeness. But... at 88, I don't expect her to change and when I show up again with nary a word about her last woes then things go smoothly for a few months. After 35 years of being my mother-in-law I've learned that she and I just have different ways of showing love.
Obachan's way of showing love is to worry.
"I've been so worried about you. I was sure you were hospitalized or dying and were keeping it from me."
And I know that Obachan must feel she is LOVED when we worry about her... so she gives us a lot of opportunities.
"I was so sick last night I was thinking of calling an ambulance. I'm sure I must be very ill."
Oh well, if I record all Obachan's favorite complaints, then this will be a very depressing post.
On the other hand...
My way of showing love is to make something for somebody. Handmade shows I've been thinking of the person, I'm giving the gift of time. However I don't think Obachan feels loved that way... Something handmade isn't necessarily something she needs or wants or can even use. Something from the store is probably of better quality and shows the sacrifice of expense.
As I say... I think Obachan and I don't communicate our love for each other very well... but in 35 years we accept each others' attempts.
For Obachan's birthday I've been crocheting a vest for her. I've been working on it for a couple of weeks. I've readjusted the size and put thought into making easy for her to put on and take off. The picture is of the vest on one of my turtlenecks.
But a handmade vest alone wasn't going to thrill her... so I bought her a lot of underpants and undershirts. It seemed something a daughter-in-law could buy her that her son couldn't... Everyone needs new underwear at the beginning of the new year.
"Happy Birthday Obachan! I know this vest isn't very warm for this season, but maybe in spring you'll be able to wear this."
"Oh, Tani-chan, you crochet so beautifully. I wonder if I'll be alive to wear it in the spring."
We made Obachan try the vest on and she complied to having her picture taken.
"Tani-chan is so sneaky with that camera. She's always taking pictures. Oh! Just look at me! I look like an old woman! When did I get so old?! No one wants to see such an old woman! I can't believe I look so old!"
"Obachan, you are 88 years old. It's okay to look like an old woman." (That was from Tetsu. I offered Obachan my lipstick before I took pictures but she didn't think that would help.)
The Meals on Wheels staff made Obachan a pretty origami card for her. Amazing what one can do with paper!
Tetsu and I visited for about an hour and Obachan was a bit more cheerful than usual. And in the evening she called me to thank me again.
"Thank you SO much for the underwear! I needed new underwear so much and didn't know who I could ask to buy me some. Tani-chan, you are so good to notice what I need."
I wonder if she'll ever wear that vest.