Will’s mother was widowed at thirty-three. She chose a much different path to her now than I have chosen to mine. Nevertheless, she has had an impact on the way I view widowhood and grief and it could be said that I have gone the way I have because of her in some small way.
She has never been allowed much of a role in Katy’s life. Despite what she thinks, and tells people, Will and I made this decision together before Katy was even born. Had things turned out differently, she would be just as marginalized today as she in fact is. I remind myself of this when I things like today’s Christmas card arrive that Will knew her very well and though he loved her, he didn’t much approve of her choices past and present.
About eight months after Will died, his mother decided to resume contact with Katy – not me – Katy, who was four. She would send holiday cards and drop the occasional gift off at the door when we were not home. The cards were addressed to Katy and written to me. They were full of venom even though she had professed to have forgiven me for all I did to her during Will’s illness. It’s funny to me that for some people finding Jesus is often at the loss of civility, but that’s another post for another day perhaps.
I ignored her attempts. Katy refused to acknowledge having a second grandmother at that point (though she knew she did) as a result of things that happened during the hospice months, and I wasn’t going to push it. My mother-in-law knew what she had to do in order to gain entry into our lives and wasn’t about to. At this point I think I should point out that when she found out she was going to be a grandmother at last (we’d been trying for two and a half years and she blamed me for our lack of success), her first response was that now she could finally wear a t-shirt that said “grandma” just like all the other women her age that she knew. Katy, like Will before her, was to be an accessory.
Since no one in Will’s family ever called or stopped by or checked up on us in any way past the first two or so months after he died, I didn’t feel obligated to keep them up to date on our life, or my personal life. So, they didn’t know about Rob. When he appeared or when we got serious or the engagement or our plans to move Katy and I to Canada or our marriage. In fact it was mid-August or maybe even September already when I sent out letters informing them of our marriage and our location. Will’s oldest uncle and his aunt on his dad’s side were quite nice. Will’s mother? She didn’t take it very well. At least that is what I heard.
Today her Christmas card arrived. I had asked her not to send cards to Katy with messages intended for me anymore. Her card was just the message printed inside and her signature, and then out dropped a letter for me. It was as cruel as she could make it without directly violating her new-found faith in the Lord. The lord, as we all know, is big on form and light on intent. Her opening line was:
“I could bash you for what you have done to me and Will but I forgave you for all of that and I am at peace.”
Rob told me to just forget about it. Don’t let it have power. What she thinks I did to her is of little import to me. I know what kind of person she is and this is typical of that type of person, but that she implied that I did things to Will that hurt him is a bit harder to put aside. I know she is angry. She feels that life has cheated her time and again and never gives a thought to her part in the misery that defines her life now, but still. I feel often that I failed Will even when I know I didn’t and I hate that she can push this button. I will put this card and the letter away with the others. Katy can have them when she is old enough to read and understand them.