When I married Mr. Farish I was thrilled to be inheriting two more sisters. I had visions of long chats with my new sisters-in-law; raising kids together, sharing joys and sorrow, pain and parent-guilt, and other important sisterly things. That never happened and I feel bad. You see, I have two really incredible sisters-in-law that are both talented, creative, funny, kind, unpredictably wacky (Hauley), and always on the go (Crystal). For the life of me, I don’t know where I went wrong. Sure, my three sisters and one step-sister are very close, I grew up with them. A day without talking to them (either through email, phone, or text) is a day without sunshine for me. That’s how it should be with siblings. That’s how I thought it would be with in-laws. How did I let my sisters-in-law slip by? I think part of it has to do with the relationship that I developed with my mother-in-law, Georgia. Georgia was young, fun, artistic, loving, understanding and very close to her son. Georgia and Lane shared many a secret that I was not invited to share. Mr. Farish and his sisters shared many a secret that I was not allowed to know. SECRETS! And yet, not everything was a secret, just things that perhaps Mr. F never felt needed to be shared. In that way, I never know who or what or where or how things were in his or his ‘real’ families lives. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is to find out something that has been going on for literally YEARS and I never knew. What I do know is that whatever I did was not what my sisters-in-law were doing. There were (and still are) many comparisons. I think I became resentful. I wasn’t as thin, as smart, as creative, as talented, as humorous, as thoughtful, as welcoming, as industrious, as good as I coulda-woulda-shoulda been. There it is! I feel, therefore I must be, inferior to my sisters-in-law!
When Georgia died of breast cancer we were all devestated. I was heart-broken for Mr. Farish, my children and myself. This wonderful, vital woman that we all loved so much was gone. The day she died is still vivid in my mind: After running some errands I walked in to four children crying together. Dustin stepped forward to say, "Dad called. Grams just died." What does one do when your spouse is with his mother and the children are at home? I hugged each one and tried to provide a moment of comfort. Grams is out of pain, she is still with us in our hearts, she loved each of you so very,very much and will always watch over you as you grow. I then turned to a grieving Dustin to be the big brother he is and left to be with Mr. F. When I arrived at Georgia’s condo she had just been driven away. I went in and wrapped my arms around Mr. F and we cried together. As Mr. Farish is never one to sit idle, he and Hauley (who had flown in from Arizona the day before), immediately went to work gathering trash, stripping the sheets off the bed, stacking, boxing and preparing to vacate the condo. I understood that this was their way of dealing with the pain of losing their only parent, having lost their dad over 30 years prior. What I hadn’t expected was to be instructed by my sister-in-law not to touch one thing. Her FAMILY would do it. I took out the trash, swept, stood helpless…then went back to my own home and children where I could be of comfort. What no one knew or seemed to realize was that I needed comfort too. I was hurting too. I loved my mother-in-law too. What do you do? Of course, I turned to my own mother and sisters and cried with them. Georgia had been a kind of surragate Grams to my neices and nephews as well. I doubt Mr. F realized how important she was to everyone. I was told (again by my sister-in-law) that I was not to go to the mortuary, that I was not needed or welcome to help with the service, again, her FAMILY would do it. To this day my heart hurts when I think of my sisters-in-law walking into the funeral, Hauley, Crystal, Crystal’s huband Matt, their kids, Eden and Clair and Mr. Farish… all together without including his own wife and family. Why the division? I don’t understand. and yet; I do understand the need to be with those that have shared their early years together; that were born of the same parents and experienced that same turbulence, joys, memories and sorrows… they ARE family. I AM a part of that family. While not included in the planning or funeral, my mom, sisters and I rallied and catered the open house that followed. It felt good to pour myself into baking and mixing and kneading and stirring all the while knowing how much Georgia would have loved the party! I bought fireworks and those hand-held poppers for all of the kids to ‘POP’ at the same time as we stood united in a circle. We sent her off in a style she would have loved … and we felt her love … and we felt peace. I wish I could say that this brought my sisters-in-law and me closer; it didn’t. I wish I could say that Mr. Farish and I communicate better about family happenings; but we don’t. What I do know is that if I want things to change, (and I very much do), I must be the one to change. I need to be the one that makes the effort, the phone calls, the quick notes and the memories. If for no one else but our children…the ones that deserve to know their cousins and their family heritage … and if I listen carefully, I just might learn what makes this family tick! So here’s to family togetherness and making scary leaps forward … You never know until you try.