The Penalty Box

I was surfing the widow board as I am wont to do during my daughter’s evening bath, which given her inherited princess tendencies can be lengthy, and I ran across a reply to a post about people in our lives who overstep. The poster mentioned that someone she knows deals with such folk by placing them “in the penalty box”. Apparently this box of retribution lies in the backrooms of one’s mind and interlopers, idiots and probably in-laws are mentally wood-shedded until such time as one is ready to deal with them. This could be tomorrow or it could be never again. There are no real punishments meted out because it is more like a grown-up version of time-out except that the bad behaving adult in question has no idea that they have been shelved. I found the concept very interesting. When applied to my own life, I realized that I have quite a full inbox.

Earlier today I answered the phone and found one of Rob’s late wife’s aunts on the other end. Dianne has been working on having a memorial bench for Shelley made and placed in a local park and she wanted to run the wording of the plaque that will be on the bench by Rob. We chatted only very briefly, but she was quite nice and genuine. I am not really certain how often Rob hears from his in-laws, but his relationship with them stands in stark contrast to my relationship with Will’s family. Granted, Rob and Shelley were married for 25 years and their actual relationship predates that by a couple more, and I really had no chance at all to get to know Will’s extended family before he got sick. Still, I wonder if the state of the union where my in-laws are concerned is something that I should have worked harder at.

Currently, I haven’t heard from Will’s two uncles or his aunt in almost a year, and this is discounting the last minute message I found on my phone inviting my daughter and I to the clan’s family Christmas the night before the festivities. My mother-in-law’s siblings and their children haven’t had any contact with me since well before Will died and some of them have never even seen our child in person. The mother-in-law herself is a long and ugly story that I am through telling. The long or short of it is that they don’t know about Rob or that we are married or that we live in Canada now. Frankly, and surprisingly, this has bothered me all along. And, I thought the reason that I was bothered by it was because I hadn’t tracked them all down and told them about the current events of my life. It’s not though. The reason I am bothered, upset actually, about their not knowing is that they don’t want to know. Katy and I are not important enough to keep in regular or hell, even semi-regular contact with and because we aren’t worth that very minimal effort, I know exactly what Will meant to them. He meant the world to me. He was the world to Katy. He was an afterthought to them and now he isn’t given any thought at all. Not even by his mother, you might be thinking? Surely she mourns him? I have no doubt that she does, but she does so in a way that I have trouble recognizing as love. 

I have decided to close the door on the penalty box of in-laws now. It was not my job to keep them interested and around over the last how ever many months it has been since Will’s death. They are all grown-ups with access to the many modern wonders of communication that are available to us all these days……and they knew where to find me and Katy. Now that they don’t, I doubt they have noticed. When they do, if they do, I will reassess the situation. Until then, I have more important things to do.

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