June 22, 2009


Jrex just dropped his parents at the airport. They were with us for a week. On Friday night I finally found words for why their visits are so hard for me: I get evicted from my own life.

I reach a point where the only part of the house that feels like 'mine' is my half of the bed. The refrigerator is full of ingredients that I've never seen before in my life (though the results all taste great--I can't find the milk for sifting through seaweed, mushrooms and piles of meat). My MIL is petite, so the shelves get reorganized based on what she needs and can reach. The bathroom sink has my FILs dentures and hygiene products. My water-rinsing glass is used by him. The toilet seat is always up. The TV is on from 6 AM to 10 PM. He smokes on our balcony; courteous enough to shut the sliding glass door, he doesn't realize the smoke drifts into our bathroom and bedroom. By the end of the week, the cigarette reek has begun to seep into everything.

Muttola has become so nervous around him that I had to move her food and water in the bedroom with us (he plays rough with her) so she will eat. In her fear, wherever I go, she has to be as close to me as possible.

When Jrex and his parents speak in Korean, part of me is glad because I don't want him to lose what Korean he still has, but another part of me is obviously excluded. I did try to learn Korean, but the classroom Korean has a totally different accent than what he learned from his parents, so we can't communicate in Korean.

On Sunday we drove to SF to have lunch with Jrex's cousin, who owns a restaurant there. My FIL's brother has been living with Cousin for the past two years. Cousin's Wife is a really cool woman, insecure about her English skills, but very smart and able to communicate just fine. She and I sat near each other and started swapping war stories. Uncle just sits around the house all day long. He never goes for a walk. Has no friends. No activities. He always watches TV in the living room. Their house has an open floor plan, so he watches as she prepares him three meals a day. Every. Day. He won't turn off the TV for meals, or when his grandaughter tries to study. He never plays with his grandaughter. Won't watch her so Cousin and his Wife can go out. Oh yeah, he also has cancer, so she has to take him to the hospital twice a week for treatments. Drive her daughter to school. Drive her father to hospital. Make food. No time. No energy.

THEN Mom K sat down on the other side of Cousin's Wife and she listened to Cousin's Wife's woes. I said, "Mom, didn't you live with Dad's family after you got married?" My MIL, who never complains, said, "THREE MONTHS. I live with them. They all same. All talk talk talk no listen. The night after our honeymoon, brother #2 talked until 4 in morning. I fall asleep, wake up, he still talks. Like tape recorder. Number Two is worst. Number Three (she points at Uncle), is next. Number Four (points at Dad) is next. No listen. Only what they want.

"Jrex, he's like my father. Careful. He listens, no talking. Gentle. Like my father. Even his body: his hands are long like my father, not like Uncle and Daddy."

Honestly, I think they moved to the United States just so Mom K would have a reason to get out of that house!

Whew. I guess compared to both of those women, I have very little to complain about, huh?


mary said...

wowzers. poor cousin's wife!

i didn't know dogs could be so sensitive.

totally can related to your having no space thing. when i was living with my mom. she had to have all the common areas "her" way. i still had my bedroom though.. although she kept telling me that it stunk in there and that i lived like a pig. yeah, thanks mom.

Rachel said...

Oh yes, I relate. In a way it's easier living near MIL because the visits are short and we have clearly defined boundaries. Poor Cousin! Sounds awful.

I'm glad you have your house to yourself again.