Revenge Of The Harpy

by admin on September 29, 2010

My MIL was approaching 90 (and very much still in her right mind, living alone and taking very good care of herself), and DH wanted to do something special. After talking extensively to her, they decided upon a party at a local restaurant where there was a private room.  Perfect.  She and DH compiled a guest list.  She included “Anna” on her list, a friend with whom she’d had a spectacular falling out some years ago.  (This is nothing new, MIL is a bit of a drama queen and always likes to have some drama going on around her).  DH asked, “Are you sure, because the last time I checked, you and Anna weren’t quite friends anymore.” MIL assures him that it’s all been smoothed over, she misses Anna terribly and would love to see her at her party.

DH calls Anna personally to invite her and she seems a bit surprised as she also was under the impression that she was in MIL’s bad books, but if that’s what MIL wants for her 90th, perhaps they’re set to make amends.

The day of the party arrives, we take MIL to the restaurant, her friends arrive.  Anna and her hubby arrive and sit beside MIL.  Anna begins talking to her.  MIL turns and says to DH in her loudest, haughtiest tone, “Please remove this woman from my presence”.  Anna and her husband, very embarrassed, get up and leave.

Later we found out through MIL’s best friend that she had deliberately asked DH to invite Anna and her husband with the express purpose of embarrassing her in front of everyone else.  There was no point in telling her she was in the wrong, she believed (and still does believe) that Anna “deserved it”. 0110-09

Wow.  If the deliberate baiting to entrap and exact revenge wasn’t enough, Mom used her son as an unwitting accomplice for her nefarious scheme.  Way to go, Mom!

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Freyja September 29, 2010 at 5:35 am

I think I would have been quite tempted to take mom home until she could act like a big girl.


essie September 29, 2010 at 5:43 am

WOW! I hope your DH wrote to Anna and explained that he didn’t know what his mother had planned and apologized for his part in it.

I’ve just recently discovered that my own MIL is a drama queen. For years, I thought she was just a hypochondriac.


HonorH September 29, 2010 at 6:54 am

The one consolation in situations like this is that people like this MIL end up looking far, far worse than the people they try to humiliate. I’ll bet everyone at the party ended up feeling uncomfortable over that, and her son’s just lost a good chunk of whatever respect he had for her.


josie September 29, 2010 at 6:58 am

Birthday gal may have her “right mind” but she has an evil attitude.


TJ September 29, 2010 at 7:00 am

OMG – I think if I were that woman’s son, I would have been embarrassed enough to leave myself.


Kriss September 29, 2010 at 7:26 am

wow, I hope you guys called to apologize to Anna, lest she think you were in on it too! I hope this is a lesson to you, don’t make your MIL mad 😉

What MIL probably doesn’t realize though is that crazy actions like this make her look like the jerk and not Anna.


secretrebel September 29, 2010 at 7:47 am

How depressing that MIL would rather celebrate her 90th with a vindictive act like this instead of burying the hatchet!


Cady September 29, 2010 at 8:27 am

That’s just sad.


Jay September 29, 2010 at 8:30 am

Son should’ve walked the heck out too, honestly. After calling her out in front of the other guests.


The Big Gripe September 29, 2010 at 8:31 am

It’s unclear if DH was in on the scheme, or if he was an unwitting accomplice. Either way, not only was MIL vindictive, but to use your family to exact revenge is cruel and spiteful in itself. Plus, you’d think after 90 years you’d learn the value of forgiveness and friendship. What a shame that during her very long lifetime, this woman didn’t.


LauraBeth September 29, 2010 at 8:35 am

I would take Anna and her husband out for a nice dinner and let MIl know what a good time we had.


Daisy September 29, 2010 at 9:14 am

If this is “over-the-top” nasty from MIL, she may not be as much in her right mind as you think. My stepmother is also a drama queen, but the first sign of her dementia was that she started being much less courteous and much snarkier to everyone.


gramma dishes September 29, 2010 at 9:24 am

It’s too bad everyone else at the party didn’t get up and leave with Anna and her husband.


BusyBee September 29, 2010 at 9:37 am

Wow, is this woman still in middle school? I think even by high school most of us had gotten over that kind of childish behavior. I feel sorry for everyone else at the table who had to witness that scene.


Zhoen September 29, 2010 at 9:54 am

LauraBeth has the best solution. This is why social pressure is important, it keeps people like her from hurting people too much. Until MIL gets too old to care about social pressure, and shows her real values and lack of integrity. Makes me want there to be a God judging her and a Hell to send her to.


Carnation September 29, 2010 at 10:20 am

I was thinking the same thing as Grandma Dishes.

Perhaps everyone else should have followed suit.


Louise September 29, 2010 at 10:31 am

The OP says mom assured son everything had been “smoothed over” between her and Anna, so I doubt her son was in on this.

Would it have been rude for the son to exclaim loudly, “But mom! You asked me specifically to invite Anna! Why are you acting like this?” It is the truth, and even if it shows mom in a bad light, well, you reap what you sow…. I wouldn’t have walked out in his position because that seems too dramatic and would make everyone more uncomfortable.

I don’t know much about dementia, but this sounds awfully well planned. I agree with others who say it makes mom look way worse than Anna, though.


Calliope September 29, 2010 at 10:51 am

This story makes me feel physically sick to my stomach. What this woman did was absolutely cruel. There’s no way I would have been able to enjoy a dinner after that.


kero September 29, 2010 at 10:51 am

Uh….90 years old and still holding grudges? Rude drama queen indeed! Poor Anna, I hope she gets an apology.


Wink-n-Smile September 29, 2010 at 10:57 am

“Oh, dear, Mother. Don’t you remember your dear friend Anna? You INSISTED on inviting her on your party. You told me you missed her and looked forward to seeing her. Hmmmm, perhaps I should take you to the doctor and have you checked out. This could be the onset of dementia. Nono, Miss Anna. Please don’t leave. I’m SURE Mother didn’t mean it. She must have had you confused with someone else. She is getting on in years, you know, and senility is setting in. Perhaps it’s time I placed a call to Happy Acres and see if they have a spot for her. Oh, and Happy Birthday, Mother!”


Shayna September 29, 2010 at 11:27 am

*sigh* Another MIL from hades.


ferretrick September 29, 2010 at 11:45 am

It’s pretty clear to me from the letter that DH had no idea what his mother had in mind. It says he asked her about the falling out, and that he was assured his mother wanted to make amends. This is not LW or her husband’s fault in any way. (And I agree they should have left as well, but OTOH, I can see where they may have been too shocked/not understood exactly WTH was going on until after the party).

Finally, I agree that LW should consider having her MIL’s mental health evaluated, if this kind of stunt is out of character for her. Although LW says MIL is a drama queen, this is way beyond that and into…something not well.


patty September 29, 2010 at 11:55 am

The son should have responded, in an equally loud tone, ” But mother, you asked me to invite Anna don’t you remember?” then look at her as if she is losing it.


gramma dishes September 29, 2010 at 12:09 pm

@LauraBeth (#11) ~~ Yes, I would too.

I can’t think of much of anything that would be more embarrassing than to have unwittingly played a role in such an egregious and atrocious act.

But honestly, I don’t think even taking them out to dinner and apologizing profusely for the behavior of my mother and that I was duped into playing a part in her scheme would even begin to make up for what happened.

And I think it would forever change my relationship with my mother. I’d feel that she’d made more of a fool out of me more than Anna.


AS September 29, 2010 at 12:47 pm

LauraBeth, I was thinking that too – if I were in OP or her hubby’s boots, I’d have taken Anna and her husband for a nice dinner, as a gesture of apology.


kingshearte September 29, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Wow, that really is horrible. It is pretty mind-boggling to think that someone at any age would think that was appropriate no matter what the circumstances. Also sad that at 90, she’s not too likely to change.

I agree with those who hope that your husband apologized profusely about this (even though it’s totally not his fault). I don’t think going out with Anna and bragging about it to MIL is a good idea, though. That’s just going to get the OP on MIL’s bad side, too.


nannerdoman September 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm

So long a life–so little learned. And it meant enough to her that she was willing to use her son as a cat’s-paw. What a shame.


RP September 29, 2010 at 2:21 pm

@Daisy – This is a good point. If MIL has only started this up since getting older then maybe she should get checked out.

@gramma dishes – It’s possible that not all of the guests knew who else had been invited and may have thought the friend just happened to be there at the time of the party and walked over to make amends. Actually, if that’s what they thought then that doesn’t look much better for the MIL.

I wish someone had apologized to Anna right then and there. “I’m so sorry Anna. We would not have passed along MIL’s invitation to invite you to the party if we’d know she was going to act this way. We were told she wanted to smooth things over. Please have dinner on us, we’ll get you your own table and pay for the meal.”

Or would that have been too much?


RoaringGirl September 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm

“It’s unclear if DH was in on the scheme, or if he was an unwitting accomplice.”

No, it’s not unclear at all: DH actively questioned his mother about the invitation, asking “’Are you sure, because the last time I checked, you and Anna weren’t quite friends anymore.’”

There is drama a-plenty in the story just as it is: we don’t need to invent reasons to be outraged at the MIL’s behavior. Honestly, we just don’t.

“Son should’ve walked the heck out too, honestly. After calling her out in front of the other guests.”

Which would, alas, have multiplied the rudeness factor of the party by infinity…and the resulting even greater drama would probably have given even more satisfaction to the MIL (’cause now she gets to play the “woe is me, my family forsakes me” card).

“If this is “over-the-top” nasty from MIL, she may not be as much in her right mind as you think. ”

Agreed. If MIL’s behavior has really been ratcheting up lately, a trip to the doctor may be in order.

And, yeah, I hope the son has apologized for the unwitting role he played in all this.


Jolie_kitten September 29, 2010 at 2:46 pm

I’m honestly having doubts about the “still in her right mind” part.


WrenskiBaby September 29, 2010 at 3:07 pm

This is one of the meanest things I’ve ever heard. To think that Anna and her husband and everyone who witnessed this will have to carry the memory for the rest of their lives… it’s awful.


Alyssa September 29, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Perhaps she isn’t really ‘in her right mind’. My grandma was always a bit ‘evil’ but once she started to develop dementia and then Alzheimers she got ruder and snarkier than ever. This sounds like something my grandma would have done once she developed dementia.


Enna September 29, 2010 at 3:54 pm

I agree with Wink-n-Smile – was going to say the same thing, the DH should have said in his most inocent, truthful and patronising voice: “You invited her, Mother, when I asked about what happened in the past you insisted that Anna came along!” Plus the other firend should’ve said something publically.


lkb September 29, 2010 at 4:12 pm

I work with the elderly and am familiar with the variety of effects of dementia. (I’d also been bullied in my growing up years.) I cannot believe that the MIL is fully in her right mind. Yes, people can get meaner when they have dementia and I really can’t believe that a fully sane person would do this. Get her checked and do apologize as profusely as possible to poor Anna.
Also, because MIL still has a great deal of her faculties have a good long talk to the woman. If she can in any way control her behavior, she has to be made to face consequences for them.


Bint September 29, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Some people are just nasty regardless of their age. Yuck.


Sharon September 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Anna and her husband may not trust any invitation to dinner from this family after the way they were treated at the birthday party. Maybe a donation to a charity in Anna’s name with a note to Anna with an apology.
The old lady’s actions are pretty much unforgiveable in my opinion. Not just what she did to Anna, either. That was bad enough. But, she also abused the people that she let stay at her birthday celebration. She probably thinks, “WELL! I surely showed her!” Her friends probably thought, “There she goes again! When this night is over, I hope we don’t have to see her again.”
I am telling you there is a reason that there are people in nursing homes that NEVER have visitors. People feel sorry for them. Well, there is a reason… this old gal’s actions at her birthday is one example.


Maitri September 29, 2010 at 4:43 pm

People act like this because other people LET them act like this.

If someone at the party had called her out on her behavior, I guarantee she wouldn’t do it again. By staying silent, the other people at the party condoned what she did.

If it were me, I would have said “that’s extremely rude, MIL!” and walked out with Anna.

We’re not “supposed” to bring up other people’s rudeness, but IMO that just lets rude people be even ruder, because no one dares bring them into check.


Pam September 29, 2010 at 4:47 pm

I’m suprised she had any friends to invite to the party!


Simone September 29, 2010 at 4:54 pm

What a horrible, horrible thing to do. My own beloved grandmother was a world class grudge holder (and life had dealt her a few nasty cards so I sort of understand it) but she definitely mellowed as she got older, and would never, ever have pulled something like this.

I agree with the other posters who suggested taking Anna out to dinner, but would not rub it in MIL’s face. That would be descending to her level. Also I would never, ever organise anything for her again and if she asks why simply explain that you did not appreciate being made to look foolish. Unless she asks, I wouldn’t mention it because it will just fuel her self righteousness.

@Louise – I agree, that would have been brilliant, but I never think that quickly, alas 🙁


Amazed September 29, 2010 at 5:16 pm

In retrospect, it’s easy to think of all the things one could have said or done. Usually when I am in such a situation, I am too stunned to think of anything clever to say.

I hope I would have the presence of mind to accompany Anna and her husband from the restaurant and make sure they had safe transport home. I would take them myself, pay for a cab, wait with them until some friend or neighbor arrives to pick them up or at least walk them to their car. I would apologize profusely the entire time, making sure they knew I was an innocent dupe.

If that means that I (MIL’s son or DIL) am absent from the party for a good long time, so be it. Upon return, I would politely let it be known that I called, and paid for, the cab, gave them a ride, or whatever. That would relieve the other guests of worry about Anna and her husband and let everyone know I was caught by surprise.


Sarah Jane September 29, 2010 at 7:45 pm

I don’t see how her son could have walked out, since he was a host. However, if I were one of the guests, I would have certainly muttered, ” Happy Birthday, (mil), I’m sorry we can’t stay.”. Then I would have left immediately.


gramma dishes September 29, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I respectfully disagree. Someone with true dementia would not have been able to plan this out, involve innocent people (her son and DIL), and see it through to completion without a hitch. If anything at all, someone in the early stages of dementia would have forgotten the tiff all together by this time.

I think she planned it perfectly, executed it exactly as she had planned, and reveled in her “success”. This is the sign of a very hateful, spiteful, vengeful woman, not the actions of someone with memory loss and the personality changes that sometimes accompany that.

I do agree wholeheartedly with Maitri (#37). She needed to be called out on this behavior right then and there on the spot. By her son, DIL and all the other guests. Either her son could have apologized immediately to Anna and her husband and removed his mother from the scene, or he could have left with Anna and her husband, as should the rest of the guests. Leave her sitting there all alone in the stew of her own making for awhile to decide if it was really as satisfying as she had thought it would be.


The Cat Whisperer September 29, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Wow. What a venomous old sow.

FWIW, as people get older, they get more aches and pains and physical problems, which can make them cranky and short-tempered; and a lot of older people feel the accumulation of a lifetime of disappointments and hopes gone bust, and can become bitter. If your life hasn’t been what you wished it was, it’s pretty hard when you’re in your 80’s to sustain a belief that maybe things will suddenly get better.

But I think mostly old age amplifies your basic personality. This elderly woman– won’t call her a lady– must have been cantankerous and vengeful most of her life. I’ve known elderly people who were truly able to make everyone they came in contact with feel warm and special.

I sure hope someone went after poor Anna and her husband to apologize for this ambush.


Princesssimmi September 29, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Why would anyone waste what little time they have left on this earth by being so nasty and bitter? Sounds like MIL needs a reality check.


Mother of the Bride September 29, 2010 at 11:46 pm

If my MIL were 20 years older this story would probably be describing her. She is that bitter and evil now, I just pray I no longer have to deal with her if her venomous self is still living in another 20. Manipulating, lying, scheme planning, drama queen who needs a book of etiquette, or a clue that she will be bitter and alone like so many others.


Mary Grace September 29, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Love your idea Wink-n-Smile, that is just too funny.
Shady Pines Ma!


Jessyy September 30, 2010 at 11:49 am

@ gramma dishes
I have to disagree about the forgetting.
My grandmother has dementia and she cannot remember my (her youngest grandchild’s) name. She can however, recall events in detail from 40 years ago.
If this had been a long standing tiff then she could well have remembered it.


Wink-n-Smile September 30, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Thanks, Mary Grace!

Although, if I were the OP, I probably would have been to busy being gob-smacked to actually think of it in a timely manner.

That being the case – how do you mend things with Anna? I would think she’d be afraid to accept a dinner invitation from me. Gift cards (MULTIPLE) to two or three separate restaurants, to show you really mean business, and want to make it up to her, along with a note explaining the situation, might be a good idea. The beauty of gift cards in this case is that it puts Anna in control and she can’t be refused dinner, once the card is in her hand. And the multiple restaurants emphasizes how MUCH you abhor your mother’s behavior and see how much it hurt Anna.

And then I’d place a few calls to Happy Acres, Shady Pines, and Mud Flats Nursing Home.

Honestly, that woman is a danger to herself and others. Not physically, but mentally, and if she’s allowed to continue in that vein, then when she falls inside her home, and can’t get up, her neighbors won’t bother to wonder where she is or call for help because they haven’t seen her lately. They’ll just be glad the old goat isn’t outside bothering them. Behavior like hers forfeits the right to live independently, because if you don’t have your neighbors’ goodwill, it simply isn’t SAFE.


A September 30, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Not so sure she is actually in her “right mind”, lol.


crella October 2, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Dementia isn’t only forgetfulness but also loss of inhibitions and personality changes. This was so over the top that I’d also say a doctor’s appointment is in order. My MIL is in Stage 6 of Alzheimer’s but she can cut people she dislikes down very sarcastically…the next day she doesn’t remember having done it though, and doesn’t know why her invitations to that same person to have coffee together get turned down, but she is fully capable of scolding/snubbing/going on the offensive.


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