I love my mother-in-law “Karen”. She’s always been good to my husband and I. But she has a tendency to speak without thinking. She teases, and even though she means well, I don’t think she realizes that not everyone shares her kind of humor. This is especially true when it comes to my family. My mom and sister are both on the sensitive side. I am too, but I’ve had time to get use to Karen’s personality. A little background: My husband’s father (Karen’s husband) died when my husband was very young. My dad also lost his father to heart disease when he was relatively young as well and thus has always had a strong sense of mortality. My dad recently had a health scare with his heart, and even though he turned out okay, it left us all on edge. In my mother-in-law’s defense, I don’t think she was aware of my family’s history.
Because of their personality clash, my mom “Barbara” doesn’t care to be around Karen much. She’s always been civil to her; she just doesn’t like to be around her if she doesn’t have to be. However, we had an occasion recently to get both families together, and everything seemed to go just fine, but later that evening I got a call from my sister. Apparently a conversation took place between Karen and my father that was overheard by Mom and Sis, but not by me or my husband. Karen and Dad were talking about financing retirement, and Karen told my dad, “I get $1,000 every month and Barbara can too. Guess how? My husband died and now I get his pension.”
My jaw hit the floor when my sister told me. I’ve heard Karen make similar comments before but never in reference to another person dying. My mom and sister were understandably hurt by this comment and excused themselves soon after. My dad though wasn’t fazed by it, and when I called him later to apologize for Karen’s behavior, he assured me there was nothing to apologize for. I’m sure Karen’s comment was intended to be a joke, and she didn’t actually mean to suggest that my father should die so that my mother can get extra money. But it was thoughtless nonetheless. I still love my mother-in-law, but I don’t think our families will be getting together again anytime soon. 0222-11
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