On The Phone With My Mother-in-Law
After the apple incident, in which my mother-in-law called one day and asked if I liked apples years ago and I answered yes only to have her hang up to then purchase and send me a box of some 25 big delicious apples which was much to much for us to handle before they were to go rotten, I’ve tried to figure out what she means when she asks me these innocent questions. Sometimes the connections are obvious, like saying “yes” to liking apples and then receiving 25 of them in the mail, but sometimes they aren’t. I have learned that whenever I say “yes” to anything to also add, “but just a little” hopefully with my intent of I like apples, but just 5 at a time getting across. These calls usually happen in the fall or winter, so I’m getting ready for one to come any day now. Two years ago, she called me up…
MIL: Are you cold these days?
Me: Yeah, it’s pretty cold right now.
MIL: Is your boiler working? Are you warm?
Me: Yes, our boiler is working fine…
MIL: Did you make dinner?
Me: No, my husband made dinner.
Mom: What? Why? He made dinner?
Me: He cooks really well…
Later, I asked my husband if he had told his mother our boiler wasn’t working while also pointing out that his mother didn’t think he could cook. He said he hadn’t and asked why. No one had ever asked me about my boiler before. I guess since my boilers have always worked, I didn’t think they could not work. That would turn out to be an ill founded assumption as our boiler subsequently froze and stopped working for a couple days later that winter. That’s a different story though. The next day, my husband gets a call from his mother and after hanging up tells me I’ll be receiving a duck down coat in the mail later in the day. She thought I had sounded cold and had bought me a coat. I didn’t see that one coming at all. I was trying to figure out the boiler thing still.
The coat showed up and I got it out and it was huge. Not huge size-wise, I was glad to see the arm length was just right and everything was wear it should be, an issue with buying coats in Korea is that they don’t fit their western friends as well as their Korean friends sometimes. It was huge in the sense that duck down is just big and fluffy. It wasn’t nearly cold enough to be wearing that thing out in public and it just didn’t seem the fashionable addition to my coat collection. I didn’t think I’d be wearing it much, save for one appearance in front of my mother-in-law if I had a chance to show her the gift was well received, but again I was mistaken. The winter came and it got more than cold, it got frigid. I decided to throw on the duck down for a quick walk to the convenience store one evening and was taken aback at how warm I was. How had my mother-in-law known what I needed before I knew what I needed?
I should add that I’m always grateful for the gifts and they are usually quite useful things, they’re just always surprising and above and beyond what she needs to do. She’s one of a kind to be sure and somehow she reads my mind before I know what I’m even thinking.