Many readers have requested more “when the in-laws visit” stories.
I see you, sadists.
The only good thing about my Chinese-American father-in-law’s decline was that he could no longer visit. (This is why I am not in prison.) Instead, Andy flew to Hawaii to help his mom with Jay’s care.
The one time Sunny briefly left her husband for her niece’s wedding, I told her how pleased I was that she had gotten away. (Jay was in the hospital for tests and procedures.)
“I feel terrible,” Sunny told me. “So guilty.”
“Why? You should get a chance to see your sisters and have a break. Jay’s fine, with round-the-clock care.”
“But he always said it was my job to take of him. And now I’m not.”
How was it that a man who could no longer speak was still imprisoning his wife with words?
After years of dementia, feeding tubes, and immobility, Jay died.
I asked Andy about Sunny’s plans now that she wasn’t caring for his father 24-7. “I hope she sells the house and travels.”
“She doesn’t want to sell the house. She’ll take a hit on taxes.”
“But she could buy a little condo! And not have to take care of that huge house and yard!”
Sunny did not sell the house. She merely called weekly, complaining to Andy about the neighbors and the yard.
“You know,” I told Andy, “if your mom would go on a trip with Yee-mah to Europe, she could complain about the VAT tax instead of the neighbors who don’t pick up dog poop.”
But Sunny didn’t go anywhere until Andy’s brother Denny asked her to come take care of his three kids. Both Denny and his wife worked. Normally Denny’s retired in-laws were responsible for childcare, but they were traveling back to Taiwan for a few months. Sunny would be their temporary (and free!) nanny.
When Andy gave me the news, I said, “That’s not exactly what I had in mind when I suggested your mom go travel.”
“At least it’s getting her out of the house. It’ll be a change of scenery.”
“Denny has a baby and two kids under age six. Changing diapers is literally a shit change of scenery.”
“Don’t worry, she’s planning on having a side trip while she’s on the mainland.”
“Thank God. She’s going to Vegas with her sister, right?”
“Well, she was, but Yee-mah is going to be out of town.”
“What about Sam-yee?”
“She’s in China.”
“Your sister in Iowa?”
“Too far,” Andy said, carefully NOT looking at me.
The penny dropped. Hard. “She’s coming to stay with us, isn’t she.”
“Well, Baby D will be excited to see his Nai-Nai again.”
Andy snorted. “And the hundred dollar bills she showers him with.”
“Too true. When is she coming?”
“So, well, uh…she’s going to visit us before she sees Denny. At the beginning of April.”
Andy winced and said, “Your birthday.”
“Did you TELL her it was my birthday?!”
“Yes. And she’s really pleased. She said, ‘Oh, I have never been with Autumn on her birthday! And she will be so happy that I am taking her advice and traveling!’ So, um, happy birthday, honey! I got you a visit from your mother-in-law.”