There is something to be said for Mother-in-Laws at Christmas. Mine (Edith) is 88 and becoming increasingly frail in recent years, but her contribution to 2020’s seasonal event was nothing short of spectacular. Before I tell you how she brought so much laughter to our Lockdown Festivities, a short prequel:
Edith had been a regular visitor to ours for Sunday dinner, when I would make the half mile drive to my brother-in-law’s house to collect her from her granny annexe. Last February, oblivious to how the world was about to be torn asunder, we’d all enjoyed my wife’s ample roast, and it was time to take Edith back home. I stood on the driveway holding the passenger door open, took mum’s handbag off her while she placed one foot inside the car – and then found myself pushed violently backwards as my elderly charge lost her balance. We both fell to the ground, Edith on top as I had the presence of mind to cradle her head from hitting the concrete. The result could have been worse – a bruised ego for me, but a nasty broken ankle for my passenger.
Since that fateful day, Edith recovered well, but like so many people of her age she was frustrated by enforced isolation and extremely limited excursions outside her home. Christmas Day 2020 would be her first return visit, so I was understandably nervous of my duties.
But it started well enough. I couldn’t help smiling when I collected her. She was standing there, dressed all in black apart from a fluffy white hat that somehow made me think of Cruella de Ville. The hat was a Christmas gift, and not her normal choice of headgear, but what the heck? I noted with slight concern she was wearing a long skirt that came halfway down her calves, possibly restricting her movement. Hmmm… But we managed the first leg of our expedition, reaching the car without incident.
Our driveway is on a slight incline, potentially hazardous for elderly passengers entering or egressing vehicles, so I parked up on the level ground in front and walked round to assist Edith on the final leg of the journey. What came next could have been straight out of a Christmas Panto. Bearing in mind the previous calamity ten months ago, I was playing it extra careful. Guiding Edith to grab the edge of the door with one hand and my arm with the other, I was relieved to get her to stand with both feet on solid ground. But then it happened: Edith’s long black skirt dropped around her ankles!
Life, eh? The circle was complete. Mother-in-Law’s return was a total triumph. I did help Edith restore her dignity by pulling the skirt back up to its correct position (hem just below the knee) – but I was laughing my head off while I did it. To give the old girl her due, she handled it well. We got her safely in to the house, where she had a lovely meal before snoring gently under the noise from the telly. And yes, I also delivered her safely home, a smile on her face as if she’d planned the whole thing.
Need to know:
I don’t just write fiction.