I met my crazy wife’ father more than a year ago. We met under terrible circumstances with him just losing his only son hours before, meeting his granddaughters for the first time and needing to make a drive back because his wife (who is just about the most wonderful person ever) was having heart surgery.
I didn’t realize it at the time how important this man would be to me.
I didn’t know how to deal with him or anyone else. I didn’t know how to deal with my American family. Here I was. I was with him, his wife, my wifes mother and sister and all of that drama that comes around with people being together.
My wife and I have been together for almost 9 years. I also knew that her dad was convinced I was a terrorist in some form. I am not but I am Muslim and Arabic and for him, maybe I represented all that was wrong with the world but I was definitely not a terrorist.. He didn’t know who I was and that I am just like everyone else. On the other side, I didn’t know who he was either.
My challenge was that I had a lot to deal with. My wife has had a challenging relationship with her father. Maybe not estranged, but it’s separate – just not together. Not like she has with her mom. They don’t talk and they do these things that you are suppose to do like wish happy birthdays and stuff. Her mother is the matriarch. Crazy Wife calls her the Queen Bee. They try to keep everything happy and comfortable. It never was until now.
Her father and mother have been divorced for about 30 years. They both moved on but I guess there is still a lot of feeling and anger and love between them. I saw that. But I also saw something different. They shared children and loss and I wasn’t sure where I would fit into this different thing.
Crazy Wife older sister is a bit more crazy than my wife. I say this because they are both full of love but they have no idea how it all works together.
Brother/Son is dead. He died last year from Multiple Sclerosis and if you read on this and don’t know it, please check. It’s a stupid, stupid, stupid disease that changed a big mans life into pain and fear and loss for everyone around. I also know what it did to this family and it changed everything for good and for bad.
I suppose that what I write about is about family and how everything changed and how easily it can.
Family is amazing and when you put everyone together it becomes drama and happiness all wrapped into one gift. How you open that gift and re live that gift is different all of the time and everytime that you open it.
I spent two weeks (part of which was my wife in another city in meetings) listening to how spoiled my kids were. I listened to them cringe at the sound of a 2 year old screaming. I listened to people telling me what I should and should not do. I was more miserable than being there when my wifes’ brother died a year ago. That was just me. I guess it wasn’t about me. Atleast all of that was a reason to be miserable. But these people were not happy. They were not happy in any sense of any word. I sat for 2 weeks being patient and holding everything in. I was one of those people where I thought that being Arabic and the drama around it was not so bad. Arabic at the least talks to everyone else about everything but this family talked fancy stuff but held everything in.
My father in law is a dynamic man. He is full of a lot of this and that and has a lot of love for his children and grandchildren. I had no idea how I would fit in.
CrazyWife was now tense. He was driving up 12 hours from his home to spend time with us and his grandkids all in one place. Because my wife had meetings following this and her mind was already stressed, having her entire family in one place brought on a different element of family stress she wasn’t prepared to deal with before big meetings.
He arrived and parked his trailer (which is huge) on the property of the Queen Bee. They hoisted up this massive thing that has a full living room and bedroom and everything else you can imagine. I stood there thinking I could help and thinking how I would deal with this man who surely didn’t like me.
Hugs and everything happened and it just proceeded for 4 days.
They talked, we talked, we cooked and bbq’d and laughed and tossed balls around (and lost them) for his dog Harley is who the most cool dog ever. I think he is suppose to be a sheep dog but I didn’t see many sheep around. 🙂
I made them Turkish coffee in the mornings (I don’t think they liked it but they pretended and that made me happy). I cooked Arabic food for them and they cooked home grown meat and sour dough biscuits (its like scones I think) from what they call a ‘starter’ of sour dough that is decades old.
Watching Grandpa Muddy Pants (thats what our oldest calls him) and Grandma G laugh at the girls and their cousins. Reading and having fun and listening to how proud they were to see the articles I’ve written and just talking about everything.
Crazy Wife sat with them and talked and joked. She said she felt more relaxed with all of them and even having the Queen Bee joining all of the time, it was like her whole family was back together. She knew that her brother was there with them because everything that meant anything to him was all in one place for the first time ever.
She even was able to download the WhatsApp for him on the phone so that they could talk more regularly which they do now. When she gets a message from her dad now, she shouts “I got a message from Dad. Thats so cool!”. I even talk to him on WhatsApp, too.
What was a difficult two weeks was put in stone by those first 4 days.
The feeling of acceptance and family being together made me feel like I was the one that was worried. I was the one that had the issue and that there was tolerance in so many ways. So many quiet and unassuming ways that it just clicks in your head that we are not all that different.
I was blessed for a bit of time to realise that families everywhere are all the same. We disagree, fight, love, like and do it all over again.
This was a gift for me to write about beause I felt like I really had developed a different bond with my American family. That maybe I had helped my wife develop a closer relationship with her own Baba. That they were all able to see our girls run and play and make everyone crazy.
To all of you out there – when we assume people are not going to know us or want to be a part of our lives, don’t assume.
The world is full of more tolerant people than judgemental ones.
Everyone should be so lucky to have lots of ‘moms’ and ‘dads’ and ‘family’ like I do.