Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mistaken Identity

Yesterday was my former MIL's funeral. It was held at a beautiful church in DC that for all my years being with my son's father, I'd never seen the inside of. I can imagine that during my MIL's favorite time of year, Christmas, it must have been absolutely amazing. It has the look & feel of a European/British church--much like the ones I visited while in England & France.

My parents, my son & I drove down & I was quite glad for my folks' presence as I made sure that my son sat with the family--namely his granddad & his father.
But it made sense because of course they had a relationship with Sylvia as well. I would have been sitting alone in the back if they hadn't come too. Which is a big difference from when my son was born--they were in Western Maryland attending a friend's son's wedding & my MIL was in the room helping me give birth....we may not have seen eye-to-eye as I've said, but SHE was there when he was born & my own mother was conspicuously absent!

Anyway, the service was lovely, albeit long--maybe that's the way it's done there or even in that type of Christianity, I wouldn't know--most of my experiences are limited to Jewish services, usually shorter, or some Hindu meditation ceremonies. It was a great tribute to her life. I sat there listening to all of the "Jesus Christs" & "holy ghosts" & was wondering what my son thought of all that since he'd never attended a church service before. He did look around to find me a few times but I was proud of how he acted & looked--dress shirt, tie, & suit. By contrast his father was wearing an under-armor tee & khakis with closed-toe Keen least it appeared as though he got a hair cut--perhaps at his father insisted.

After the service there was a gathering with food--very British tea-type sandwiches (cucumber, tomato, etc.), deserts & wine. I wasn't sure how to be here because I was no longer part of the family. I stood back with my folks & just watched. My ex & his new wife came in with the babies & it was just very sad. She was very dowdy (also dressed VERY inappropriately for the circumstances--black jeans & sleeveless sky-blue tee) & not very attractive--the first thoughts that came my mind were "lumpy" & "horsey" as well as her needing to see a good dentist immediately. The babies were cute as babies generally are, & at first drew some attention, but soon people drifted away from her & began to talk elsewhere obviously a bit put-off by her lack of social niceties. My son came over to us shortly & he stuck by me for a while & then drifted off to be by his granddad & aunt. I recognized most people there but felt uncomfortable about approaching them because I didn't know what they knew about me or had been told since the divorce. As I was standing with my mom, a woman approached me & told me "what an adorable family I had." I was just a little taken-aback by that comment & wasn't sure how to respond. She was indicating towards the two babies, one being held by my ex, & the other by his wife. My son was standing by my ex, talking to him. I must have looked at her slightly confusedly because she then said, "Your babies are so cute!" I just had to laugh slightly--& I still am as I write & shake my head. I told her that the oldest boy was mine & that I was my ex's first wife. She had thought that his new wife was a babysitter!!! Unbelievable! What's even more amazing is that she wasn't the only one who said these things to me--another woman did almost the same thing!

At this point I saw the daughter of one of my in-law's good friends. She & I had been close at one point so when she saw me she did a small, furtive wave at me--I guess a lot of folks weren't too sure how to approach. I decided that enough was enough. I walked over & we immediately hugged each other very tightly. After that, her father came over, whom I always had a soft spot for. He is like an old country gent--heavy drinker, boisterous, etc. He lives in Louisiana but until his own wife passed, they were always at the gatherings at my in-law's house. It seemed like more & more people relaxed after that & came over to talk with me & my parents. They told me that Sylvia said that I always made sure that my son came to spend time with them & how she was so pleased that I made sure of them maintaining a close relationship with my son. That my son was just gorgeous & so self-assured & what a wonderful job I'd done with him. It was nice to hear these things because I never knew what was said in the past. After that I began to circulate amongst the other people. They seemed genuinely happy to see me again, & had very complimentary things to say. By contrast, the new wife sat alone in a chair with one baby & talked with no one.

All in all, it was a very interesting time. My mom said I appeared gracious & acted very appropriately for the situation--she would know since she's been through similar types of gatherings with my dad's, her ex's, family.

So off to sail on my folks' boat now, after getting my car's emissions test done--blech!

If my MIL was still alive she's be glued to the French Open right about now....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My condolences on your (and your son's) loss. It sounds like you took the opportunity to rebuild a couple of bridges.