Sunday, June 19, 2011

Installment Five

My mother-in-law, Edna, called me early this morning to see how I was holding up.

She's my ex-mother-in-law now I guess. Or mother of my ex? Is there a correct protocol for what I should call her now? Diplomats can retire (or in my family, they die) but their kids can never be former diplomatic children.

Edna lives up to her old-fashioned name. She believes marriage is supposed to be for life. Her language, though, is straight out of the 'hood (even if that neighbourhood is middle class Montreal.)

"Have you heard lately from that son-of-a-bitch offspring of mine?"

You have to love a woman who takes a daughter-in-law's side in her own son's divorce. We've been close since the day we met. Closer, if that was possible, once the children came along. Edna understood how alone in the world I felt, without a mother of my own to help me. It didn't matter to her that I had always had a house full of servants.

"Darling girl," she had said to me on her first visit to the Middle East when Deborah was born.

"Your army of maids, cooks, drivers, laundresses, and butlers may all be lovely and efficient people. But they are not Deborah's parents. That's a job for you and Martin. Don't let the staff become my granddaughter's handmaidens."

Great advice which her son, of course, ignored.

"You have a maid," TBM had said. "Why do I need to learn how to change a diaper?"

(Re-thinking my Internet handle for him, his mother really should have first dibs on his acronym and I do so like SOB.)

Oh, such fond memories of that SOB, TBM. Perfect.

"I don't expect to hear from him until I get the final divorce papers to sign Edna." I never could bring myself to tell her about his infidelity.

"Is he living with that baby now?"

I forgot what a sharp old bird she is, despite being 85.

"How do you know about the baby hussy Edna?"

OMG, I never expected to say that out loud.

"How do you think?" Of course! Deborah had just spent time with her grandmother.

"Joelly, I need you to be honest with an old woman. Is he at least looking after you financially?"

"Deborah told you about my pathetic digs, right?"

"Well, she might have mentioned something."

I could hear her breathing as she contemplated how to broach the subject of money. Edna was a very wealthy widow. Her generosity with my children knew no bounds and her gifts over the years to me were always lavish.

But I would never ask her for anything and certainly not now.

"Check your bank account when you have a minute."


"Save your bullshit about pride, Joelly," she said, in her take-no-prisoners voice. "My shame in my son trumps your pride."

My eyes welled up. "And book yourself into a day spa," she added, before ringing off.

I sobbed for hours over the life that SOB had gone and ruined.


  1. Suddenly, I feel less sorry for you. Why didn't you tell us about Edna before? I wish my Mother In Law was like that. Shall we start an acronym glossary, Joelly? It might assist latecomers. We have TCK (what did that mean again?) SOB, TBM and now Edna is becoming an ATM.

    Chin up. Things are looking up.

    Lesley x

  2. Lesley,

    I appreciate your comments but you just made me feel worse if that was possible! I'm trying very hard NOT to use my mother-in-law as an ATM...

    ...and I'm afraid things aren't looking up quite yet, but I'm trying.... and appreciate your support!

  3. Appreciate your mother-in-law, Joelly. She's validating your experience. There will be moments when you're going to need that.

  4. I think that SOB ruined more than one life.