Some of you may recall that Jim (Corb's mother's boyfriend...oy! What a descriptor) suffered a stroke a few weeks ago. He's been getting better, and this week, he should be released from rehab.
Corb has been supportive, although he didn't show up at the hospital the first day that Jim was admitted, because he had to work until nine at night that day, and by the time he got out, it was too late in the day. He did call to offer to drive over at around six, because he asked to leave early, but when he did, his mother said there was no need. He also spent most of last week--two days--driving to his mom's house to help retrofit the house for Jim.
Be that as it may, he received a call yesterday from his mom, slightly upset. "You haven't gone to visit Jim, and he's been really good to you. You didn't even send him a card or anything. You need to visit him tomorrow."
"We'll see, Mom," he replied. "Let me speak with Ted and see what's going on."
"Okay, but I'd better hear from you," she said. "Call me back later today, so we can plan when I can drive down with you."
Now, let's put this in perspective. Corb works about 60 hours a week nowadays--eleven hour shifts. Saturdays and Sundays are his only days off, and last week, he spent most of it helping out his mom. Plus, his mom is located about 40 minutes away, and Jim's rehab center is about an hour and fifteen minutes away. On top of that, it's never a quick visit with his mom. After visiting Jim, it's a sure thing she's going to want to go out shopping or have him go over the house to do some more work for her.
So, as a result...and because I think he knew what her reaction would be, he didn't call her last night.
Which of course meant that the inner Emily Gilmour in his mother was going to come out in full force today.
It started at ten, with the first call. Three more before noon. Then, she started calling my phone.
The third phone call to my phone was while we were eating lunch with the kids. He turned to me. "I'll call her after lunch," he said. "I'll make up something about the phones. I'll say mine was charging and yours was in the car."
"But what are you going to say about coming over?"
"I'll say I had really bad diarrhea and was sick all night, and can't come over," he said.
Personally, I kind of feel like he should be honest with her and say he just can't make it, but then, my mother's not Emily Gilmour. "Okay," I said.
Fifteen minutes later, my phone started ringing again. He didn't pick it up in time, but called her back right away, and left a message on her voicemail.
She called right back, ignoring the voicemail. "Hey, mom," he said, moving into the bedroom for some quiet. I followed him, and closed the door behind him. "Yeah, I'm sorry. I just left you a message. Ted's phone was in the car and mine was...what's that? No, I don't think I'll be able to go today, because I'm not feeling well and...what's that?"
He pulled the phone away. "She hung up. Well, I guess that takes care of that."
I nodded. "Mad, huh?"
"That's putting it mildly." He clutched his stomach. "And now I really do have a stomach problem. Excuse me." He headed off into the bathroom.
I had seen how it had affected him all week-end. Knowing he had to make the call, and being afraid to. He literally had been discussing for the past twenty-four hours. So I knew he was going to be all upset about the whole thing. Honestly, I had considered calling her for him on a few occasions, a) because I thought it was rude that he wasn't answering her calls, but also b) to simply try and be honest with the woman. I thought she at least deserved that.
A few minutes after he left for the bathroom, my phone started ringing. I stared at it, looked at the number. His mother. Should I...?
Well, it was my phone after all. And, it was call number nine. "Hello?" I said.
"Is my son there?" she asked.
"He's in the bathroom," I replied.
"Probably trying to avoid me."
"No, really. His stomach is sick, and he's been in the bathroom all day long, and--"
"I just don't see why he can't send Jim a card or visit him," she said. "Jim's been so good to him and--"
"You're right, and Corb is going to send him a card. And plans to visit him, once he gets home from rehab. He just can't go today."
"Well, why not? Jim's been so good to him, and it's the least he deserves."
"And Corb has been good, too," I said. "He may not have visited him, but he did go to your house twice--"
"That's because he screwed up the first time and wore the screw down," she said. "So he had to come back a second time."
"No, that doesn't mean he has to come back a second time," I said, starting to feel defensive. "He could have just left it the way it was and not followed through."
"But Jim's been so good to him, through everything. Lending him the money."
"Well, he was good to lend Corb the money, but not so good about things after that, honestly" I said, trying not to sound mean, just honest. "How many times did Jim call him up yelling because his payment wasn't in on time? And a lot of times, that wasn't Corb's fault, it was the banks."
"He was just doing what any bank would do," she said.
"I don't know any bank that would yell like that," I replied. "But that's besides the point. Jim was nice to lend the money, that's the important thing, and honestly, Corb is grateful and plans on visiting him in--"
"So why couldn't he just call me last night and tell me that?"
Now I was feeling a little bold. God help me! " Well, maybe he felt like you were going to yell at him when he called. Make him feel guilty about not going. Maybe he wanted to avoid that. I mean, why do you think your son Greg doesn't answer your calls when he isn't going to show up for Thanksgiving? It's the same thing. He just doesn't want to be--"
OOOPS. Shit! Me and my big mouth. The minute I said it, I knew that I shouldn't have. It was one thing to talk about Corb, but another thing to drag his brother into the mess. "I don't have to take this," she snarled, and hung up on me.
Oh man. Oh shit shit shit shit. I left the bedroom and moved the bathroom, but Corb was still shitting away in there. I didn't have the heart to knock on the door.
Quietly, I snuck out and walked to my car. Called my own mother up for advice. What should I do?
"Teddy, you put your foot it in, and there's nothing you can do," she said, "Just go to the store right now and buy Jim the biggest card you can find. A fruit basket wouldn't hurt, either."
Which is exactly what we did, once Corb came out of the bathroom. After I dragged him out of the house and explained what I had done.
He spent the entire ride there laughing at me, which made me feel better. Maybe he was happy I said it for him, I don't know. "You are so going to pay for that," he said.
Maybe I am, and maybe I shouldn't have mentioned Greg, but the rest of it? Not sure I feel that bad, honestly. I wasn't trying to be mean to her, I was trying to talk to her honestly, like an adult. The woman is 65 years old, after all, and shouldn't be going around trying to bully people into visiting her boyfriend. Or calling people repeatedly and then hanging up on them when she doesn't get the answer she wants to hear. I'm not saying she hasn't done good things for Corb, but he shouldn't feel afraid to call her and tell her no, either. He's 28 years old now, and it's time for this sort of crap to stop.
Mother-in-laws are no fun.