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A “Gimme” of the Macabre Kind

Serendipity sent me to your site and I have ever thanked her for it.  I’d like to take this opportunity to share the tale of my in-laws–well, the tale of my mother-in-law, at least.

“Devon” was the youngest of his family, spoiled by all his sisters and particularly by his mother.  I met him when we were both nineteen and attending the same college (a long time ago!!).  That summer I had a falling-out with my parents about him, which resulted in my packing my bags and moving in with him. Devon’s mother took me out for lunch less than a week after I moved in, chatted endlessly about her work and her family and then, one bite into the strawberry shortcake I’d ordered for dessert, she informed me in no uncertain terms that if I ever hurt Devon, she would hunt me down and kill me.

Devon and I got engaged and with our limited means–we were putting ourselves through school–we bought a nice ring for me which served as engagement ring and wedding band (a small sapphire, with diamond chips set to either side of it), which we both liked.  His mother never stopped making clear to me in a loud voice and as often as possible that I had no taste, that if I’d had any class I would have held out for a proper diamond (never mind that I don’t care for diamonds).

Naturally, as a couple of starving students we had a mishmash of things–two mismatched half-sets of dishes, maybe five glasses and two mugs, none of them identical.  One day I came home from school to discover that Devon’s mother had taken him shopping, and had bought us new dishes. “Aren’t they lovely?” she asked me, as she showed me some hideous art-deco plates.  She never did understand why I was upset about that.  I guess I just wasn’t classy enough to appreciate them.  (I should note that I wasn’t upset that she’d bought us dishes per se–I was upset that she’d gone behind my back to do it, and didn’t understand why I didn’t like the pattern, when I’d had no say in the matter).

Devon’s sisters were the two-faced kind that would be all smiles to my face and then would talk about me behind my back, knowing that what they said would get back to me–things like, “She really needs to learn to put makeup on!”, when they knew as well that I didn’t wear makeup at all, simply because that’s not my thing.  (I’m not much of a “girlie” girl in general.)  I can only think that they genuinely hoped to influence me to start wearing it.  I have no sisters of my own, only one younger brother who was in high school at the time most of this occurred.  My parents run a very small farm and don’t make money off it; and at that time even though we had reconciled, I couldn’t and didn’t expect my parents to fork out for a large wedding.  So Devon and I planned for something simple, that would include our parents and siblings and a few friends, with no obligation for gifts (since our friends weren’t all that well off at the time, either; and we’d already set up house together so we didn’t need any of the basics a lot of new couples get.  And hey, we had a new set of DISHES already).

Then I found out that his mother had registered me at several expensive gift shops around the city.  And I found out she’d already started tentatively booking large venues.  She’d already made up a guest list, had picked out bridesmaids for me from among Devon’s cousins and nieces, and had determined that one of Devon’s sisters would serve as my matron of honour.  Never mind that I might have friends, or cousins of my own. Devon and I confronted her about this and she said it was only what Devon deserved, that he couldn’t have a “hillbilly” wedding and that if left to my own devices that was what I would provide him.  Worst of all–she had no intention of paying for all this; she expected us to come up with a bunch of money, and fully expected my parents to shoulder at least half the bills that she intended to incur on our behalf. We told her that we didn’t want this.  We told her we didn’t want a big wedding at all, and probably not even a church wedding.  She said that not a single one of her other children had been married like a pauper and her prince wasn’t going to be married like a pauper just so he could marry–well, me, but she said it with many unpleasant adjectives.  The whole thing devolved into a screaming match and she and I called one another unflattering names and finally Devon dragged me out of there before it came to throwing furniture.

Back home, we knew we had to circumvent the woman before she drove us into bankruptcy even before our life together had really gotten started.  We called up our two best friends, made a reservation at a tiny resort out in the woods; I made up a bunch of cards and addressed them; we went down to the courthouse on a Thursday morning and were married civilly with our two friends as witnesses.  We went out for a lovely lunch together, just the four of us.  We mailed the cards, that informed the recipients that we had gotten married on Thursday morning, and that we would be out of town for a few days.  Then Devon and I took our “honeymoon” out in the woods, for four days. His family never forgave me for that (because of course it was my fault that the matriarch had been thwarted), and I was treated quite badly for the next seven years.

Devon was coming home one night from a business meeting, and his car was crushed against a concrete divider by a tractor-trailer whose driver had fallen asleep.  He was killed instantly.  I remember very little about the next few days (next few months, really); but I recall very clearly the phone call I received from Devon’s mother, the day after the funeral.  “You’d better not try to sell that table I gave you,” she said (referring to a tiny console she’d given us because she hadn’t wanted it).  “I want it back.”

No condolences, no greeting, just “give me the table”.  Nice!  09-11-08

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Ticia April 23, 2009, 12:29 pm

    Oh, my. I have no words…

  • Julia Bourque April 25, 2009, 7:16 pm

    Who would want her old table anyway? What a materialistic , hateful and controlling old woman.

    She wanted the table back and asked not to sell it but did not say anything about not smashing it. I think if that would have been me I would have given it back to her in pieces. I guess that makes me a mean old woman too.

    Hope that you got your life back together.

  • erin May 2, 2009, 11:37 pm

    Yeah, Julia beat me to it about giving it back in pieces otherwise I have nothing to say that wont put me in ehell.

    Anyway good luck in the future.

  • saphie May 13, 2009, 3:57 pm

    My condolences on the loss of your husband.

    It sometimes astounds me that such wonderful people can have such crazy parents. 🙂

  • Alexis July 6, 2009, 3:20 pm

    I’m so sorry!
    Really, the only thing worse than dealing with an unpleasant jerk, is being one.
    I hope your life got better without her in it!

  • Brenda October 21, 2009, 3:36 pm

    Frankly, I wouldn’t have smashed anything, but she would have received the table, the dishes, and everything else she’d ever given me. Or, rather, I would have boxed them up, and left them outside for her to pick up, after leaving a message that if she didn’t come get them, the locals would be free to help themselves.

  • Kitty November 8, 2009, 7:19 pm

    I’m so so sorry you had to go through such an awful experience. Bad enough being ostracised by your beloved’s family, but your mother-in-law’s behaviour after your tragic loss is indescribably reprehensible. I cannot fathom a family who would begrudge their son’s happiness- it’s entirely immaterial whether or not he did as they wanted and it’s far more important that he found a caring wife and a loving relationship as you two clearly shared. Your mother-in-law hasn’t just committed several gross etiquette violations, but her comments after your loss show her to be a heartless, callous person of the worst kind. I sincerly hope you find happiness again in life.

  • Fanboy Wife January 29, 2010, 11:16 pm

    That story is just horrifying. At least Devon had the good fortune of marrying a woman who loved him a lot and valued him above material possessions.

  • CyanideButterflies May 22, 2010, 11:23 am

    Oh my! What a wicked woman! I’m sorry for your loss. This has really pushed my buttons for some reason, I’m honestly quite riled up right now. Oooh. *shakes fist*

  • Kammy June 1, 2010, 6:21 pm

    Oh my goodness, I can’t even think of what would make someone like that. First of all, I am so sorry for your loss. My older brother lost his wife a few years ago to a drunk driver. Her parents didn’t like my brother cause he is white and thier daughter is black, but they rushed to the hospital as soon as they were called and stayed by my brothers side to help him. They agreed with him on all the funeral plans and stayed with him to help him through his grief. My brother and them still get together on her birthday and visit her grave together.

  • Liutgard July 23, 2010, 7:33 am

    I am so, so sorry that you lost your husband. It is hard to lose a loved one, but suddenly and so harshly is a double grief.

    As to your mother-in-law… she is a deeply unhappy woman, and wants to make everyone around her just as unhappy. I feel sorry for her, in a way. She’ll never get what she wants out of life, and she’ll only be more bitter.

    Take the table, and the dishes, and any other ‘gifts’ she gave you, and put them on her front porch, with a gracious note thanking her for the use of them.

    After that, I see no reason for you to have any further contact with her. I think Devon would understand.

  • Javin October 7, 2011, 2:44 pm

    Why do people continue to advise posters that they should kow to horrible people? This is not etiquette. That’s called “spinelessness.” Being a doormat, and encouraging their abhorrent behavior is not only POOR etiquette, it encourages them to continue being the monsters that they are.

    I hope the OP didn’t give a single ONE of hers and her late husband’s possessions to this horrible beast. If she dares to continue to hound you, I would inform her that you will be getting a restraining order if she does not leave you in your grief.

    Even if you don’t LIKE the tacky items she forced on you, they are YOURS. Sell them. Give them to charity. Do what you know your HUSBAND would have wanted. I sincerely doubt someone who was willing to “elope” despite this cow’s wishes would want to see HER take those items from his widow so SHE can sell them, or stick them in storage out of spite.

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