My mother-in-law: a budding naturalist


This title (budding naturalist) is a play on words and if you give me a few paragraphs, we’ll get there. More than that, I think you may enjoy this one… I know I did.



In order to protect the identity of the innocent, I won’t name the individual (Barb – my mother-in-law) that this true story is referring to.


In the span of 6 weeks, Barb’s son, husband, and father-in-law had all undergone surgeries of different types on different areas of the body. All were relatively involved and had a decent amount of time required for recovery. By itself, one surgery for a loved one can put some strain on the other individuals in the family. But adding 2 more? I think we can classify that as a crisis.


The other important thing to remember as this story unfolds is the fact that Barb is admirably pushing herself to drink more water throughout the day. I think the years of a nagging son-in-law that saw a family member go through multiple kidney stones was finally starting to wear Barb’s diet-soda-drinking habits down.


Let’s get into it:


After multiple days at the hospital, post surgery #2 (her husband), the couple had made the long awaited trip home and started settling back into life. Barb, the selfless woman that she is, was running to the grocery store, taking care of her husband, getting ready to head back to work, and still making a point to stay active in her community events.


With all of the errands, housekeeping, and nursing work to be done, even a person with super-human powers would need a little help, right? Indeed. We have a nurse in the family (Mary) that typically comes up big in these situations, and this time was no different. It also helps that Barb and Mary are sisters.


So, now we have Barb, Mary, and a few others pitching in during the first days back from the hospital and this machine is running in a streamline fashion. In one word – efficiently.


One side note that I’ll mention is that a plus to getting through a surgery is that it’s not uncommon to receive flowers and candies (depending on the surgery) to help lift spirits and brighten up recovery. As is becoming the theme of this story, this time was no different. One day when Barb was out at the store, an unnamed individual was home accompanying our recovering patient and the doorbell rings…


Flower delivery. Sweet!


Thanks were exchanged and the flowers were brought promptly to the kitchen. In search of a vase in an unfamiliar house, our unnamed individual searched for an unspecified amount of time, eventually called off the search, and very kindly deposited said flowers into a drinking glass. The glass was filled with water to nourish the flowers, then displayed prominently on the kitchen’s breakfast bar. A card had accompanied the flowers and was given by our unnamed individual to our patient for reading. All was well and the day pushed forward.


Barb eventually arrived home and while putting the groceries away saw the beautiful flowers, set them in a vase, and asked who had sent them (always eyeing up a ‘thank you card’ opportunity). Groceries were deposited in their specified locations, lunch was prepared, and again – our healing day pushed onward.


We’re nearing evening now and it’s about time for Mary and our unnamed individuals to start heading home for the day. Hugs, thanks, and Italian double cheek kisses were exchanged as Barb wished each of them well with their evenings.


The door closed, deadbolt locked, deep breath inhaled… exhaled… and with the patient asleep for the evening, Barb now has that elusive moment to herself. A mortal may sit down, flip on the TV, and drift into autopilot. But not our Barb. With this fleeting ‘me time’ Barb eyes up the somewhat chaotic arrangement of things in her house and decides to start getting life back in order.


What better place to start? The kitchen.


With the dishwasher flung open, the symphony of running water building to a wiped plate and crescendoing with the plate slotted into the appliance takes over, and Barb’s chaotic kitchen is gradually finding its equilibrium. But, with the rag in her left hand and her right hand turning the faucet off, Barb remembers… I’ve committed to drinking more water, but so far today I’ve failed myself. No worries. Her eyes spot a full glass just beyond the sink, and once the right hand completes its task of turning the faucet off, it shoots for the glass, grabs ahold, and deposits earth’s sweet goodness swiftly into Barb’s mouth. Five big gulps later the glass is empty and finding its way into the dishwasher. Proud of herself for remembering to drink more water, she continues ‘redding up’ the kitchen and starts pondering the next steps in her evening.


“…Once I finish the kitchen, I’ll move onto the living room. Then the… Wait… Somethings not right…” Much like after the quick pull of a tart red, this water had a unique aftertaste brewing in Barb’s palate. “What was in that water glass?” She thought to herself.


With an elevated heart rate, she quickly scanned the kitchen searching for obvious clues. Her eyes promptly landed on the vase of flowers then shot to where the flowers had been when she came in from the store hours earlier.


One problem – no glass.


She had started with plates and planned to move to the dishwasher’s top shelf next. The only glass that had been “cleaned” thus far was the glass she just drank from. The very same glass that held the flowers for hours earlier in the day. Barb had just taken 5 giant gulps of flower-water straight to the face.


She immediately dialed Monica up on the FaceTime so that we could check to see if she had started sprouting any bulbs yet. It was springtime after all…



Thanks for reading!


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I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!


– Mike
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