and like always when we visit them, I get caught up in their family stories. My mother-in-law musing about sleeping upstairs in the house built by her father, the cracks in the roof exposing the sky, waking up with a dust of snow on her face. The family origin story of my father-in-law-- his grandfather's crossing from Denmark on a ship that sank, the week on a lifeboat, a daring rescue, the eventual settling in America and the birth of twenty-two children (My husband's grandfather was number 12.)
I love these stories. The little tidbits and back-matter. The plant in the corner that came from a clipping of a plant grown by my father-in-law's mother. How when my mother-in-law talks about going upstairs in her childhood home, she means climbing a ladder. (I've been part of their family for thirty two years and I just now learned that detail.)
My husband and I share our own stories with his parents, updates on our daughter's wedding and our son and his girlfriend's van-life cross country trip. Which, okay, seem a little trivial contrasted against the life and death of a ship going down, a childhood spent in abject poverty, but the grandparents, of course, are always happy to hear any stories about the grandchildren.
For a few days, life slows down. Meals. A list of handyman jobs for my husband to do around his parents' house. Side note: they keep the heat on 75, and my husband and I are sweating up a storm and laughing about it, but after a while, we just decide to go with the flow, channel the word COZY. We can't stay very long and we'll soon be back to what we have now been told is our very cold house.
65 degrees, my father-in-law had exclaimed. Is that what you keep your heat on?
Meanwhile, against my better judgment I sneak peeks at the news on my phone. Stories about the new Supreme Court Justice nomination. Stories about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The stories make my head hurt. Did I mention how hot it is in this house?
Oh, here's a story about the chickens the great grandmother kept, how she loved them so much she would cry every Sunday dinner when the family ate one. The frogs and turtles my mother-in-law's older brothers caught because some days, what else was there to eat?
Our daughter has chosen a wedding dress. Our son and his girlfriend found themselves in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Did you know, he texts me, that anyone can march in the parade if they want to? We share the pictures with the grandparents. The lovely dress. Our son draped in colorful plastic beads.