Spring In Winter

My husband is not someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. He has been known to physically distance himself from emotional, overwrought scenes. So I was really impressed at the way he handled his trip back to New Zealand to see his dying mother.

It is true that she is not well, in fact, she is gravely ill, but she was not in the condition we expected to find her in. My father-in-law had painted an emotionally devastating picture of her health – that she was veering in and out of consciousness, barely knew anyone, didn’t know what day it was and so on.

He even told my husband that she was waiting to see her son again so that she could die. I am still trying to find the right way to digest that one.

The truth is that she is ill, is in a lot of pain, is terribly frail and in a wheelchair, but she still knows exactly what is going on. She is eating, chatting and laughing. My husband and his brother took her out for lunch. She didn’t eat much but managed a modest portion. She was cracking jokes the whole time.

It hurt me that there is a man, the father of those boys who are now men in their own right, who is prepared to stab and pick at and twist the knife a little further into an already painful situation. By exaggerating, overdramatising and yes, lying. It’s so unnecessary, isn’t it?

Everyone is aware how serious her condition is. There is no need to outline every nuance, every moment in austere black.

It was freezing in New Zealand over the weekend. A good five to ten degrees cooler than Sydney.  It really felt like winter. My husband said there were shadows everywhere but especially around his mother; that the light in her eyes was dimming as if slowly, ever so slowly, she was fading into the back ground.

Yet she still had her laugh. Her cheeky, infectious, irreverent laugh. It was a laugh that always did throw light into even the darkest room. In my heart I believe it was a laugh with a direct line to her soul, bringing a litle spring into winter.

17 thoughts on “Spring In Winter

  1. Yes, that is very cruel. And the sad thing is that, next time he makes a statement like that, your husband will not know whether to believe it or not.

    Families eh?

    But I am glad she was better than expected and that they managed to enjoy some time together – proper time, doing everyday things.


  2. sounds to me like you were right in your previous post when you said that he is making this all about him.. he even contorted her condition to appease his own desires.. i kind of think the guy is a psychopath and he scares me….


  3. Perhaps, although the manipulation and deceit are uncalled for, he did your husband a favor. Speaking from my experience of rushing to see Dad before he died and missed by 9 hours, I have to say I would have loved to have rushed down there and found him like this, and been irritated too. The fact that he has seen her again, laughing, is a gift. She may not be at death’s door, but then again, sometimes they can be taken quickly without notice.

    As for dear old dad…. well, it’s clear he’s got issues. My Grandmother manipulated herself into a nursing home and half crazy. I think the manipulators, in the end, always end up loosing.


  4. I am so glad that your husband got to visit with his mom. Sounds like she is still enjoying life, in spite of her health problems and her pain. How wonderful to be able to laugh, it does keep a person going at times…

    I am appalled though, that her husband decided to give his own skewed interpretation of how things actually were. Just awful…

    Hugs to you and your husband, take care, G


  5. Your Father in Law’s sick neediness turned into a blessing for your husband and his brother didn’t it? They were given a gift of comfort and a few laughs with their dear Mum.

    Your description of the shadows and her eyes is so beautifully touching…..bittersweet beauty.


  6. “Her cheeky, infectious, irreverent laugh. It was a laugh that always did throw light into even the darkest room. In my heart I believe it was a laugh with a direct line to her soul, bringing a litle spring into winter.”

    I LOVE the way you wrote that.

    [I’m sorry your husbands father is such a moron!]


  7. I hope it’s your Mother in Law’s laugh that will be your husband’s fondest memory in the months to come. I’m glad it wasn’t as dire as his father made out though obviously the situation isn’t good. On a positive note, his father’s exaggerations for his own ends at least got your hubby there in time and that at least is a blessing.


  8. Melodrama, grrr! So unnecessary. I try to go by Julia Cameron’s advice to “keep the drama on the page”.

    My mother sent me a text last week saying that my gran had fallen, then a follow up one talking about a stroke. I sent texts back to find out how she was and whether a stroke was the cause of the fall or subsequent to it – no response. So I phoned and my mother was subdued and sighing before she put the phone down because it was a “bad line”. Phoned back. Turns out my gran was fine – no stroke – but my mothers legs were sore and she was convinced she had a fracture. Phoned again the following day: she’d been to hospital herself and the diagnosis on her leg pain… muscle stiffness from “too much walking” when she visited my gran in hospital.

    I know you’re not supposed to shake babies, but how about shaking your parents? 😉


  9. RELUCS:
    It was cruel of him to say that. And you’re right – he won’t be believed next time. The man is a walking hidden agenda. It’s crazy. I’m glad he didn’t succeed in ruining the visit.

    You are spot on with that assessment. Some of the stories I could tell you… we would literally be here all week. Thank God my husband got away from him when he was in his late teens. Thank God!

    I agree. It does make the whole thing much worse. It ‘s an emotional enough situation to begin with.

    I do think that is part of it. I think anyone would struggle dealing with that alone. How kind you are to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    I think they end up losing out too. I am so glad my hubby got to see her laughing. It has made all the difference to his state of mind.


    Humour and laughter are incredible things. The healing power is extraordinary. I am so pleased they all got to have a laugh together.

    EMPLOYEE 3699:
    Definitely crying wolf with that one. It is good they got time to laugh and reminisce. He and his brother spoke about how they used to steal cookies from the kitchen. She admitted she always knew it because she heard the tin open!

    Some people really need to look at themselves, I think. It is a good thing they got the chance to catch up, though!

    It did turn into a blessing. I am grateful for you putting it like that because that’s what it was. I was focusing on the negative when I should have been looking at the positive!

    Moron sums him up pretty well. Couldn’t have put it better myself!!!

    Definitely a blessing. Perhaps he exaggerated it all to get everyone over there, believing they wouldn’t come otherwise. Part of me actually feels sorry for his twisted way of doing things. I would never have expected to feel like that.

    There needs to be a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on, I think. I sympathise with your text and phone call dramas because I go through them myself. It is very tiring. I still don’t understand the motivation behind them.

    I with you – keep the drama on the page. That’s where it belongs!


  11. DAONE:
    I meant to say – I’m with you. It’s like that scene from Mrs. Doubtfire where Robin Williams rings up about the housekeeping job and says – I am job. One of my fave scenes!


  12. My aunt was a bit like that … not a hypochondriac, but imagining all sorts of nasty diseases in others. When we got the message that my Grand-dad was dying, I found the old boy sitting in his chair, happy as Larry, having just got over a cold, which gave him a dizzy spell and made him fall over.

    And, he asked if I would mind stepping down to the pub, and getting some bottles!


    He was definitely OK then if he was thinking of the bottles. You always know you’re fine if you can have a wee tipple!


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