All your Sanity are belong to us!

August 26, 2003

We have been dealing with my mother-in-law recently. I love her, and actually have developed a like for her in the 6 or so years that I've known her. She can be very sweet and caring, and a lovely person to know. She can also be the most obstreperous, cantankerous, passive-aggressive person I know. She has been known to visit these two poles of her personality in the same conversation with you.

Currently she lives, alone, in a small one-bedroom apartment in Manteo North Carolina. Manteo is on the same Outer Banks' island as Jamestown, the Lost Colony. It is remote and isolated. She has family living about an hour drive north in Currytuck county. Her relationship with her sisters is volatile. After an illness forced her into a brief hospital stay last January she felt like her sisters were trying to run her life. She has talked about moving away ever since.

Her goal appears to be Wilmington North Carolina, or about 300 miles farther south. During our last visit to see her in February, we drove down there, but without any objective defined, no progress towards moving was made. Now we are planning a new trip to see her in early October. Once again she is insisting that we travel to Wilmington to find a place for her to live. We have requested that she make some calls and schedule some appointments so we'll actually accomplish something. Since she doesn't like being told what to do, even by her daughter, it remains to be seen if she'll follow through. If we were to call and schedule appointments she'd refuse to go, or to participate if we did get her there.

Both my wife, and my brother-in-law, feel that she would be better off if she lived near family. Either stay in Manteo, near her sisters, or move near one of her children. Michele is not interested in having her mom near us. My mother-in-law has no concept of boundaries and the only reason we get along with her as well as we do is the 1100 mile buffer zone. My brother-in-law is interested in having her live near him in Tampa. Everyone except for my mother-in-law likes this idea. When presented with it as a possibility she gets very evasive and coy about everything. Talking to her at all about anything becomes an incredibly difficult and exasperating chore.

My wife had a tortuous conversation with her mom this morning. Nothing was resolved and, from subtle clues dropped along the way, it appears her mom maybe taking a vacation. Of course she won't say where, or when. I expect we won't be able to get ahold of her for several days now, and then she'll turn up in Tampa or, yikes, here unannounced.

A part of me knows that she isn't having anymore fun with this style of life than the rest of the players in this little black comedy/drama. I wish I could unscramble the world for her so that she'd be more at peace. However I know that this is not something I could accomplish with a willing participant, much less with an unwilling one. And, as I look towards my own future and I wonder what it will be like for me, when someone starts trying to tell me where I can and can't live. I'll probably be a bit obstreperous too.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.