AS YOU MAY know, I’ve been married three times. That means I’ve had three fathers-in-law and three mothers-in-law. This can be a good thing or not.
Let’s look at my in-laws because it’s the in-laws who created the wives.
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Buddy and Violet
My first in-laws lived in a shack in the woods of Louisiana on the outer reaches of New Orleans. Well, not exactly the woods, but it was close to it.
It looked like a shack in the woods. A car motor slept on the floor of the living room, and as you sat on the toilet you could see the ground through a hole in the floor between your legs. The shack sat on stumpy brick pilings.
There was ancient grease on the kitchen ceiling.
My father-in-law was a carpenter when sober and a raging drunk when not. He was more the latter than the former. In spite of this, he and I always got along fine, not because we were drinking buddies because this was before I started drinking.
And I never drank like him. He was a world champ, and I never rose above bush-league status. My first father-in-law was named Durward, but everyone called him Buddy or Bud. Maybe it was after Budweiser.
Buddy was a beer man, 100 percent.
To his credit, in late middle age, Buddy went cold-turkey, completely on the wagon, and he never drank again. When sober, he was charming. He was also a wonderful artist.
His wife was named Violet. She mostly bore up. It was a life of endurance. I liked her. She never drank at all that I recall.
* * * *
Art and Dorothy
My second in-laws lived in a big, beautiful house in St. Louis, Mo. You couldn’t see the ground through a hole in the floor in any of their bathrooms.
I don’t recall exactly how they came to live in that lovely house because my in-laws didn’t buy it. Someone bought it for them. I forget the details.
Art was a schizophrenic who spent long periods institutionalized. He’d be released on occasion, and my second wife-to-be would find herself with another sibling. Release, baby. Release, baby and so on. They were Catholics.
People who breed.
When he wasn’t in the mental hospital, he was a lathe operator, apparently a very good one. He finally was put on lithium and spent the rest of his life very subdued. Dorothy, who always welcomed him home with open arms and open legs, worked, but I don’t recall exactly what, something to do with offices.
They had ten children. My second ex-wife was the first of the litter.
I don’t recall meeting Art more than once. We lived in New Orleans and later Houston, and we never went to St. Louis but one time.
* * * *
Carlos and Margarita
I never met my third set of in-laws because they died before I came upon the Mexican scene, but I hear good things about them. They were neither drunks nor schizophrenics.
They were hard-working folks.
They had one thing in common with my second in-laws, however. They were fertile, producing five babies. There definitely would have been more had not Margarita died in labor while having her final child. She was just 31.
Carlos was a doctor, a general practitioner and surgeon in Los Reyes, Michoacán. He remarried and went on to produce another six babies, well, that we know of.
The doc was a lover. A heart attack killed him when he was 61.
I would have liked to meet my third set of in-laws, if for no other reason than they produced the best — for me — wife of the lot. Carlos was not fond of Gringos, I’m told, but that was true of the whole family. My charm brought them around.
* * * *
It’s said that one’s childhood plays a large role in forming the adult. I put more stock into this idea than many folks do. I believe the effect is enormous.
I look back on my in-laws and later the problems I had with their children, my wives. And I look at my parents and see issues my former wives had with me.
With luck, you mellow as you age. I think that’s why my child bride has few problems with me. I have none with her.