In almost 30 years of marriage I have never once been angry with my mother-in-law. Not. Once. There may have been times of occasional frustration or missed communication, but never anger.
Recently, my father-in-law was hospitalized and had surgery for colon cancer. He also has the early to mid-stages of dementia. The hospital stay was difficult for him. He did not understand why he was there. He sometimes thought he was in a hotel. Other times, he thought he was in a storage unit. I took Mom to visit every day and it was lovely to see how she could bring Dad from an agitated state to a temporary place of calm and understanding.
Mike and I were greatly relieved when the doctor ordered in-home nursing. We felt it would help in Dad's transition as he continues to lose ground to memory loss. So after I had taken Mom out for an afternoon of shopping, I asked her what the visiting nurse had to say about Dad's recovery. The visit hasn't happened and isn't going to happen. When I asked why, Mom said the doctor's office had called and wanted Dad to come in so the doctor could sign off on the visiting nurse. Mom told the office she couldn't get him there. Again, I asked her why. Why did she say that, when she knew I'd be willing to take them?
Bottom line – she doesn't want a visiting nurse. She was ticked when told that in order for dad to go home, she'd have to have a visiting nurse to check the wound and remove the staples, a physical therapist to help Dad with a walker, and an occupational therapist. She was truly irked that (in her words) she had no choice in the matter. When the doctor's office called, she saw her opportunity to cancel. This woman, who is 92 years old, has congestive heart failure, can barely get out of a chair without help and needs a walker is determined to take care of her husband by herself.
I could scream. But I don't.
It occurs to me, our relationship has just deepened. I'm very angry with her decision. It endangers her and Dad. It increases the work load for Mike and for me. It's not a good plan.
But I still love her. Now, I don't just love her because it's easy. Now I love her in spite of it being rather difficult. That reminds me about the 'love passage' in I Corinthians 13 that starts in verse 4 saying, “Love is patient, love is kind...”
I truly hope I'm that sort of lover.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.