Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mother-in-Law o' Mine, Part Three

~ my mother-in-law holding Tobin, during our California trip in May of 2009 - Tobin was 16 months old, which is just about how old Shav is now

In case you're randomly clicking over here, this post is a continuation of the story of my relationship with Jeff's parents.  Part One is here, Part Two is here.  But before I pick up the story, I want to say one thing in response to Morning's thoughtful comment that she left on Part Two.  Actually, as is usually the case with me, there is a lot I want to say about it!  :)  But I'll insert just one point I want to make now, and then perhaps answer her question more fully as I continue the story.  But, Morning, if by the end of all of this, you don't feel like I answered your question clearly or adequately, please feel free to ask again; I value your perspective and input!

Her query brought to mind one of the benefits of the rough start I had in my relationship with my in-laws (there's no great loss without some small gain, as my grandmother used to say!), and that is this:  it was very clear that Jeff and I were marrying each other for each other.  We definitely weren't getting married because of convenience, or because people thought we should, or because we thought we'd make cute kids together, or because our tax situation would improve if we were married.  Our only matchmaker was God, and there was certainly no family pressure to marry each other!  (That is, until my parents met him and "fell in love" with him, so to speak...)  :)  Jeff and I quickly developed a strong bond with each other, in part because it was Us against Everybody Else.

As I think back over the paths I could have taken and the men I could have married (not that there were scores of men waiting around to marry me - not at all!), I realize that with one, I could have married him for his church.  With another, I could have married him for his family.  With another, I could have married him for his money.  But with Jeff - oh, with Jeff!  I married him for the man.  I want to be careful how I say that because I know the wife of one of those men reads my blog and the parents of another one have read it, and I am in no way implying that those individuals aren't wonderful men, too.  Of course they are, and they are perfect for their respective spouses.  But Jeff, my dearest Jeff, the one who holds the key to my heart, he is perfect for me; and because of the way our relationship began without a lot of (or any) parental support, I never had to question my motives for marrying him.  If I was crazy enough to go against family, I must really love that man!  :)

Now, back to the unfolding story...

The next chapter in the history of my in-law relationship could be entitled "Along Came Josiah."  Having a child changes everything, and having a grandchild changes everything again, doesn't it?

It "just so happened" that I found out I was pregnant on a day we were planning to drive up to Big Bear to visit Jeff's parents.  It was Columbus Day 2001, very shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11; and as I thought about Columbus' huge discovery, I felt like my own discovery that morning was almost equally as significant!  :)  It was very special to be able to share it with Jeff's parents right away, face to face.  I remember being outside that day in the beautiful fall weather; in their backyard was an apple tree which was producing loads of luscious green apples.  I ate and ate and ate green apples that day!  And together with the future grandparents, we rejoiced!

As the pregnancy progressed, Jeff's parents followed along with all the developments; and I particularly remember his mom and sister coming to my baby shower (which was an amazing night - wow, I loved that party!).  But I still remember feeling very much closer to my mom than to Jeff's.  With my mom, it was all comfort and security; with Jeff's, I still felt some insecurity and had the sensation of being an outsider.  Jeff was the go-between, the link between his parents and I.  Without him, things felt a bit awkward.

When Josiah was born, Jeff's parents drove down from Big Bear right away and came to the hospital to visit us which meant a lot to me at the time and still does.  In general, as far as basic personality, Jeff's dad was the gruff one, and his mom the friendlier one; but when it came to Josiah, Grandpa Fisher became the most tender man you could imagine.  He really loved Josiah.  In this old post from the very early days of this blog, there is a picture of Jeff's dad holding Josiah in the hospital; and to me, there is LOVE written all over that picture.

Little did we know, when that picture was taken, that within a matter of months, Jeff and I and our tiny baby would be moving halfway around the world to Israel.  Little did we know that a few weeks after our move, Jeff's dad would suffer a terrible stroke and never recover, lingering for a time in the hospital and rehab center, but ultimately dying the day before my 27th birthday.  We didn't know that Thanksgiving of 2001 would be the last one we would celebrate in their home in Big Bear.  I had no idea, as I watched Jeff's dad hold Josiah and talk to him and love on him, that before Josiah got old enough to even remember his grandpa, he would be gone.  When some members of the Fisher family got together at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown San Diego for our last hurrah before our flight to Israel, I never once thought that it would be the last time we would be able to gather in such a way.

Looking back with the perspective that time brings, I'm increasingly grateful for the five and a half years of marriage we had before our move to Israel and our loss of Jeff's dad.  I'm grateful for the time we spent together, the memories we made, the books we discussed, the meals we shared, the games we played, the museums we visited, the holidays we celebrated - together.  My relationship with my in-laws grew so much during that time:  from who-is-this-girl-and-why-does-she-want-to-marry-our-son to genuine love and acceptance and goodwill towards each other.  I'm so thankful for that.

But despite that growth, I still wasn't at the point - and never dreamed I would be! - of welcoming my mother-in-law into my home for a month!

Maybe tomorrow I'll get to actually finish the story and show how I got to that point.  :)


Amanda said...

Oh Davene - you make me laugh! BTW everyone - I am the wife of one of those cast-off men of Davene's - one of the many men she left in her wake! HAHA - I am totally kidding of course. I just want to say that we don't marry perfect men, we marry the men who are perfect for us! And in many ways Ben would NEVER have been perfect for you Davene, nor you for him. I have never felt anything but thankfulness that you felt that and ended your relationship so I could snatch him up! :)

Davene said...

Amanda, thank you for your gracious - not to mention, hilarious - response. YOU made me laugh this morning! And yes, I agree with everything you said. Well, not the part about "many men she left in her wake"... ;-)

I'm SO glad you and Ben ended up together!