There and Back Again – A Wife’s Tale

I have finally returned home from my epic journey this summer. Two weeks away from the broken computer, the floundering water heater, and the office (sort of) have rejuvenated me somewhat. I have often noticed the difference between my family and others’, this particular trip highlighted those differences much more clearly. Allow me to explain.

Week 1 my husband and I journeyed to his parents’ home. We joined 2 of his brothers and their children (and one new wife) in the annual summer get-together. My parents are only a few hours away, so they joined us for the end of the week before we packed up and headed to their house for week 2.

His parents are older, late 70s early 80s. Their youngest child is roughly 10 days away from being 38. Their youngest grandchild (so far) is a 14 year old girl who lives in California. They are quiet people. They have lake front property, but they are situated on the end of a cul de sac of the water, what is that called? An inlet? Anyway, not on the main lake so only the frightfully lost or the quiet fishermen make the water ripple. He lowers the boat once a year when the family converges on him in the summer. They spend most of their time staring out the window or sitting on the back porch. My FIL can tell you the traffic pattern of every animal that traipses through his backyard, the quantity, and what time to expect them. He notices if they don’t turn up. The bird feeders in his backyard are filled with just the right amount of food that will attract the right birds. After lots of trial and error, he has the feeders dangling far enough away from the trunk of the tree so the squirrels can’t get at the seed, yet low enough that he can reach them with minimal effort. The strings are covered in PVC so squirrels will plummet to the ground if they try to shimmy down. (He has spent the last 10 years trying to rid the valley of squirrels.) He is a creature of habit. He knows everyone in town and they know when to expect him, just like the wild turkeys and deer that traipse through his backyard.

There are many things I find to be absolutely perfect about this scenario. I love sitting on the enormous back porch listening to the rain or reading a book. We had a few good nights of discussion and storytelling and one night of singing and strumming. I’ve been part of the family long enough that I don’t feel awkward or out of place talking to his parents alone, though his brothers still make me a little nervous. His mom makes special efforts to make nice breakfasts everyday and there are enough people scattered about that everyone can feel comfortable doing their own thing without guilt.

However, there is absolutely nothing else to do. Wal-Mart is at least 30 minutes away. The highest excitement is getting to drive to the Piggly Wiggly in town. It was only last year that the eldest child broke down and bought his parents Wi-Fi. The year before that, Shoobs and I replaced their ancient TV. Otherwise, it’s the boat or nothing. This year we came equipped with board games, decks of cards, and enough wine to limber everyone up a bit and that seemed to help. We miraculously got the 14 year olds engaged in some board games instead of hiding in their room watching Netflix on their iPads with ear buds in texting each other from across the bed. I count that as a win!

I do feel some amount of guilt about the breakfast situation. They are early risers. My FIL goes to bed at 7pm if that gives you any indication. So they wake up and have their breakfast. I try not to sleep in too late so I am usually up around 8:30 or 9. At which point, a second breakfast is made. Specifically for me. Regardless of who else may be awake. She actually made an announcement in the TV room one day that she was making breakfast especially for me and no one else. She made 12 blueberry biscuits, scrambled what had to be 5 eggs, and had out fruit salad, toast, butter, strawberry jam (made from scratch) and a variety of juices. I had eaten so much over the last few days that I really just wanted to fade into the background and maybe eat a banana and call that breakfast, but I ate what was prepared for me since her sons have no qualms about hurting her feelings.

This is getting to be longer than anticipated, and I have an interviewee waiting for me, so I will wrap this up for today and continue my tale later.


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