Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Week 3: Wednesday.
I spent most of the morning with my mother-in-law.
She had a couple of hospital appointments, and I went with her. The western General is a bewildering kind of place, and it's good to help her through it.
She has a love of life and an admirable courage in the face of death... and I have told her I cannot go on living as a man. That I am not John any more.
But she also has an ability not to look at aspects of life that disturb her, and because she is 85 and pretty frail and certainly vulnerable I am reluctant to challenge her.
But tn she insists on calling me John and thinking of me as her son-in-law.
And this, in a public space, causes me intense discomfort.
It's a problem I can't yet resolve; and after hours of it, it's a great relief to be out of it, and my own dear real self, and in rehearsal again.
And especially today: yesterday's crises seem to be over and I can look and listen to the text and know it is OK.
I can relax about it.
Or at least Act One.

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...as most people her age have an inability to look at aspects of life which disturb them. And we feel sorry for them because they've had a tough life and are fragile. I had conflicts with challenging my parents and grandparents. I felt I needed to protect them in some way from a changing world. They'd suffered enough hardships through the war, and had grown up in a world that was so different to mine. So much more hard working, sacrificial, having to make ends meet, and missing opportunities such as college and other choices.
Then I thought, if they survive all that why all of a sudden are they so weak in their narrow-mindedness? So prejudiced and ignorant? They must have seen far worse things. Or were those things in their lives so bad that they had to block them out of their heads; and their only way of coping was to live with the seen -and- not- spoken- about -it's not that bad- code, which perpetuated that narrow-minded way of thinking?
Maybe they're just too tired and can't be bothered to think and take on issues which challenge their brain cells. I'll never know until I'm 80. But I hope my younger relatives will be honest with me and I hope I'll always be open to new ideas.
It's really kind and patient of you to do this for your mother in law. I wonder if every time she calls you John in public, it would help if you said in a loud, actorish, voice - now then, Charles, you know I'm called Jo, and this isn't your skirt I'm wearing! And I wonder how much of your discomfort is from being too close to her? How would you deal with her if you'd just met her as a stranger? I think I'd just treat her as if she was a three year old refusing to accept an idea. At least you know you are strong in yourself and know your own mind, in which case you can jolly her along but be very firm and clear that you are who you are, and have a right to be so, whether she is going to accept that or not, no matter what her age or situation.
Oh, dear, Jo, here I go again making comments and assuming I can stick my oar in when I've only met you once. I'm really sorry, please tell me to .... off!
Love, Jenny xx
 
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