The closeness of this mother and daughter-in-law pair, it’s truly, rare, that’s for certain, translated…
I’d gotten used to calling my mother-in-law whom I lived with “Mom”, it’s just, that when I’d called out to my own mother, my voice would raise up at the end, while as I’d called my mother-in-law, I’d used a gentle and more careful tone of voice; it wasn’t until both my own mother, and my mother-in-law passed away, did I realize, that there is no one left that I can call in such terms of endearment.
After the lunar new year’s, my mother-in-law and I would discuss her final affairs in the hospital room, she’d reminded me, to call on the trusted funeral home worker, to lead the way for her, because she knew, that the person knew where my father-in-law wen; and told me to put that black top with the red and purple flowers. I’d nagged on, that if the weather is still colder, this wouldn’t be enough, and, as I heard myself voice out the concerns, I’d realized, how odd I actually was.
But, she, who’d been bedridden for long, who looked weak as ever, had that slight grin, creeping up the corners of her lips, she’d made fun, “Yeah, I’ll bet, the dead fears the cold!”, I’d recalled how when she’d gone abroad to travel, she was commended by the tour guide who was well-traveled and well-read as being fashionable and elegant, at that moment, I’d flown into panic, I’d heard that she clearly stated how she will refuse, to wear those old styled clothes fitted for the dead.
From before, I was afraid of the dark, and couldn’t discuss the matter of death, as my mother-in-law fell ill and became hospitalized, I’d started slowly, learning, to enter and exit into the hospital in the late hours of the night, barely, holding myself up, going up and down in the elevators, filled with the medicinal smells; slowly, I’d understood her trying moments as she’d demanded to get her sheets changed again, and again, because they’re not soft enough. I’d reminded myself, to listen all the time, nod, and promise her, that I shall be there, accompanying her, as her life comes to an end.
My mother-in-law had once felt bad, about not having a daughter who is closer to her heart, but, she was glad, that whilst I was watching over her in the ward, the roommate mistook me for her daughter, and the two of us looked at each other and smiled.
And now, as I stand in the kitchen, I’d always remembered just how swiftly my mother-in-law handled the household chores. Especially around the New Year’s, she was used to sitting on the door frames, with this huge stainless steel wok in her hands, counted out the steps to defrost, and ordered the plates being served in her mind. After following behind her through the years, I’d clearly known, that she would have a pork’s feet that’s right in the size, that was my brother-in-law’s family’s favorite, a slice of thick fish, for her picky youngest; as for the eldest who loved soup with his meals, she’d served a pot of cabbage soup, with pork rib base.
It’s just, that next year when the New Year’s rolled around, there’s no more of her cooking that we can all, savor then.
not my photo…
So this, is someone remembering her mother-in-law, and, from the interactions, you can see, just how close this mother and daughter-in-law pair had been since from before, for the mother-in-law to share her final affair plans with this daughter-in-law of hers, when usually, these things should be shared with one’s own blood.