Before I married, the first time I’d gone to my husband’s house to visit, his mother who had diabetes, her sight deteriorated quickly, and, was waiting on the okay of her retirement papers. After I married, when my mother-in-law, who was only fifty-four years old left her teaching position, she’d become, completely blind. But, it wasn’t as hard or difficult, as my own family had, predicted, my mother who’s clear headed, persistent, quickly figured out a way to adapt to her newfound blindness, and, she’d quickly, adjusted and adapted to taking care of herself on her own.
She was born in 1924, graduated out of the Chiayi All Girls’ High School that rarely any Taiwanese citizens were able to attend. Although she was naturally intelligent, and from a famous Chinese Medicine Doctor’s family, but back then, like all the citizens of Taiwan, weathered through the war, the lack of resources, and inflation in the early 1940s.
Thankfully, with her hardworking mannerisms, she’d step, by step, managed through the various levels of her own life. But unfortunately, after she’d worked hard at her teaching post for thirty years, was about to start her good retirement life, she’d become, blind. This would be hard-hitting, for everybody, but, even though she’d needed insulin shots daily, and lived from day to day, not knowing the time of day, until she died at age seventy-nine, during this nearly two decades, she was able to, maintain that balance in the psyche. The first years as she’d become blind, my children were born, she’d worked as a homeroom teacher for the lower grades of the elementary years, as I was busying making the meals, she’d always taken her grandkids along, sang to them, told them stories.
My mother-in-law kept a rigid schedule, used her small radio that accompanied by her side, she’d taken her meals, worked out, gone on for walks on my father-in-law’s arms for walks like clockwork. What’s interesting was, from listening to the broadcasting on the radios, she’d gotten to known the world around her more and more, and loved discussing with the family, on the issues that she rarely talked about from before.
Because of my mother-in-law’s needs, the twenty years that followed, the living space that the three generations shared, had never changed, the furniture stayed right where they had been, and the items, at their rightful places. And, other than when eating, she’d relied on my father-in-law to get the food for her, and needed us to fill up the tub for bath, she’d not needed any assistance in brushing herself, putting on her makeup, before she goes out.
Having an amazing memory, we’d joked and called her “computer”. Because she’d not gotten to know everybody’s schedules in the house, she’d remembered everything that happened by the year too, and, she could call out my father-in-law’s clients by their names; and, when choosing what she’s to put on, she’d, felt through the patterns, and can tell which item was which color too, the style, and where she’d bought it from.
Now, as I thought of my mother-in-law, her being a bit hunched in stature, circling around the couch, as she heard the broadcasting on the radio, it’d all, pop up into my mind. After she’s without the strains of her illness, my mother-in-law can finally, seek out the life she’d always wanted to live, in another world.
This, is how well someone had, gotten along with one’s own mother-in-law, because the mother-in-law’s attitude toward life, her way of coping with her blindness that came later on in life, that made the daughter-in-law look up to her.