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Family… who’d have ‘em?!

17 December, 2014

Hubby’s mother had been organised for many months to come over and visit us on the other side of the world over the extended Christmas period. Her husband had died after a reasonably short illness in April.

He was an abusive alcoholic throughout hubby’s life and she drank to make him have less to drink (which of course would never work). Anyway, I had no reason to doubt hubby in his stories of his family life and upbringing and his stories were consistent over the years.

Hubby said she was fine in Ireland before they left. She appeared confident and capable. When they got to Abu Dhabi things changed and she declared that he was spending her money and she didn’t want to come to Australia after all. It was a mistake.

The trip progressed though, as all international connections do, and they arrived. I know hubby and how once he lands he stays awake until early evening when he goes to bed so I let him catnap for a short period and generally rest while Ma and I chatted and she met grandkids she didn’t know.

Our middle boy had driven a two hour + drive to come home overnight and the eldest had his partner over when her mum was due to have a major operation the next morning. A lamb roast had been put in the bbq and a family meal was to be enjoyed as a welcome.

Ma wanted none of it, having some issue with hubby and took to her room. When I tried to tell her dinner was ready I was met with a sullen response that she wasn’t hungry. It was a great start to her visit.

The next day I was working and hubby had the day off to regroup. Apparently things didn’t go too well then either. She was friendly enough to me and apparently apologised to the kids but was still saying she wanted to go back home, it was a mistake coming and she had wasted all that money.

The next day I was very nervous about leaving her in our remote house all day. So much so that hubby and I left work early and were going to give her the ultimatum of moving out, leaving early or making do for the planned six weeks.

When we arrived home we found our kitchen table covered with ironing and she was in a very bright and chirpy mood. I’d prayed about what was to be talked to her about and hubby did the majority of the talking.

She broke down, said she was still grieving, she wasn’t as strong as everyone believed and not seeming to understand that she was probably jetlagged and overtired. So we weren’t so heavy handed with our ultimatums and believed her to settle down into her own routine.

Here’s where I’ll complain though… Hubby brought her over to our home which is 10km from the nearest shop (not a problem when we drive past it daily) and we live on 5 acre blocks. So we leave our house in the morning at 7.30am and return home 5ish. It’s a lot of hours for someone to potter alone and relax (or stew).

But hubby was still going out on the weekend sailing. I ended up taking him to his club and then took Ma around the Saturday markets, watched the motorcycle Toy Run of 6000 bikes, had a coffee with an old friend and then collected hubby.

She seemed to enjoy seeing the products in the market, bought our daughter a dress and necklace. Took it all in and the pace was relaxed.

Sunday we were on barista duty in church so she didn’t come along (not that she did Irish church) and that afternoon hubby took her off for a walk. She spent her time at our kitchen table reading, out on our deck reading or pottering around the garden digging. She was free to just chill.

Days went on and her mood went up and down. Again she said she wanted to leave and this time we didn’t fight her. I was off work sick for a couple of days and she tagged along for my doctor’s appointment and wandered the village while I saw him.

She talked about how she and “Da” would sit at the kitchen table rather than in the lounge room of an evening. She talked incessantly about her neighbour and work people and I purposely tried not to talk about her volatile relationship.

On Friday though it all came to a head again and we tried to contact the travel agent again to make flight change enquiries. The agent was off. We’d have to hold off a day. Again hubby was sailing though and even though earlier in the week Ma said she’d go on the water with hubby she was now declining the experience of time together on the water seeing our lovely city from a new vantage point that not many people see.

Finally emails were exchanged and a figure was given to us. When I couldn’t see the changed flight details though I called the agent. He told me the place I was to look on the paperwork and not giving Ma a chance to change her mind (she was adamant) I took her debit card and paid the change fees.

She later expressed disappointment that she wasn’t flying out on the next day! Hubby did a mammoth task of being nice to her and not making any more confrontations despite his hurt and frustration and he repeated his instructions to her of where to go and how to navigate the international terminals.

Again I didn’t want to leave her at home again alone. I didn’t know if I could trust her and her final dinner on Sunday she was erratic again, talking super-fast and about odd things. Her idiosyncrasies of sighing lots were throwing hubby and I and we couldn’t interpret if they were from distaste, passive aggressive, or just a habit she had.

We arrived home and hubby said we’d get Ma to the airport without lingering around the home. So we grabbed her bags, checked her room and the kids were given a fleeting goodbye from her. She didn’t ask about saying bye to the eldest and we made sure he knew we had no expectations on him to say goodbye or accept her bad behaviour.

So I sat in the back seat allowing hubby and her to have any last minute conversation they might have. Nope. Silence beyond a couple of questions repeated from Ma about the flight process.

I did the airport laps while hubby took her in to check in and to security and that was it. It was over. She had gone.

Her flight landed in Ireland at 3.30am Australian time and by 8.30am hubby still hadn’t heard from her to say she had landed back in Ireland.

This woman is a mystery to me. I’m exhausted. My concentration is snapped and I’m so not with it mentally.

What a bizarre two weeks


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