Sunday, April 20

A Slice of Life: Meet the Parents I & II


Meeting the in-laws can be nerve wracking for the first time. Throw a tragedy in on top of that and you have a recipe for a nervous breakdown.

I'd been dating my first husband, Rich, for about six weeks when his parents invited me to come for dinner. I knew it was inspection time and I was very nervous. Not only did I want to make a good impression, I knew they were already leery of me because I was six years older than Rich.

It's funny how that worked out--when I agreed to go on a date with Rich, I assumed he was about 25. He assumed the same thing about me. At the end of the date, Rich asked, "So...exactly how old are you anyway?"

"28."

He took a big gulp. "28?"

"How old are you?" I asked. Three years didn't seem so bad.

"22." It was barely a whisper.

"22!"

"Is that a problem?" He sounded scared it might be.

Well, we were just dating, after all and what was the big deal? He was much more mature than someone 22 years old. I said, "No, is it for you?"

"Not at all," he answered happily.

His parents were totally shocked, though, and worried I was robbing their son's cradle.

Rich and I went to see a movie first, Fantasia> It had been re-released and I loved the movie, the colors and most of all, the music. By the time we arrived at the house, I wasn't so nervous anymore. I put on all my manners and was as charming as I could be.

Rich's parents were cordial and friendly with me. His sister, her fiancee, and younger brother were also there so there were plenty of people to chat with. Afterwards, I helped clear the dishes and talked with Rich's mother a while.

By the time Rich was ready to take me home, I was relieved and exhausted. I was glad it had gone so well.

Almost a week later, I was making dinner for Rich, my cousin Anne, and a couple we were friendly with. We were going to have a night of playing UNO and fellowship. Rich had been working that day but just arrived and was relaxing when the phone rang. Since I was making dinner, Rich offered to answer it.

"Cass, it's my sister," he said in a puzzled tone. "She wants to talk to you."

Huh? Well, I took the phone and his sister said in a fast, low voice, "I couldn't tell him, I just couldn't. Our mother was in a car accident and she died. We need him to come home right away. Do you think you could drive him?"

I just went cold all over. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I also knew that I couldn't let on yet what was going on and so I said okay and hung up.

"What's up?" Rich asked.

His eyes were so blue and trusting. How could I tell him?

So I left it out. I said, "There's been a car accident with your mom. We need to go to your house now."

On the drive to his house, we didn't say much. I squeezed his hand. When we got there, I said in a quavering voice, "There's something I didn't tell you yet."

And Rich sighed heavily and said, "She's dead, isn't she? That's why we're going to the house instand of the hospital."

It was awful. The worst part, though, was when other relatives began to arrive and I was introduced around. To my horror, I heard myself say, "I'm happy to meet you." ARGH! They all seemed to understand.

I spent most of the time in Rich's room, sitting on the floor and cradling his head in my lap. People would come and go talking to Rich and he just seemed to be in a state of shock. He'd been very close to his mother. His father came by several times and looked in at us.

There was no question about me being a member of the family now. It's just so sad that it happened this way.

Now it's almost 20 years later, I'm widowed and about to marry TB. I've been invited to meet his family and I feel just as nervous as I did when I was meeting Rich's family. This time, the issue isn't an age difference: TB and I were born in the same year.

TB and I were both widowed in the same year. I think TB's family was concerned that everything was moving along too fast and that he hadn't had enough time to grieve.

You have to have walked in these shoes to really understand our reasoning. It wasn't that we didn't love Rich and Audrey enough to wait the usual amount of time to mourn. Part of it was that we knew life is short and you never know what is going to happen. The other part is that when you are happily married, there is always a hope of gaining that again. There's no baggage that's usually associated with divorce. TB and I believed our spouses brought us together, too. It all seemed meant to be and we were ready to elope to avoid a lot of fuss, bother, and possible heartache from other members of the families.

This gathering went off smoothly and I felt accepted from the beginning. The only uncomfortable moment was when TB's mom and brother were asking me about being saved. With my answers, though, I felt like I'd passed a test and now I was a member of TB's family.

Instead of dwelling on being nervous, I like to think I'm lucky enough to have gained two wonderful families.

2 comments:

Cricket's Hearth said...

Isn't it amazing how a tragedy can be used to make something wonderful happen. It is truly the hand of God moving in your life.

Jane @ Kidzarama said...

I'm really happy for you that you were able to find love like that a second time around. That's really special, Cassie.

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