Lotsa wives, lotsa in-laws

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.

* * * *

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.

* * * *

One’s roots

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.

16 thoughts on “Lotsa wives, lotsa in-laws

  1. And, señor, it could always be worse. You are fortunate in many ways, and none of us control what went before us. We have our hands full trying to control ourselves.

    Salúdos.

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      1. I too noticed the six in-law comment and spent a few moments running through my mind how three made six. I couldn’t come up with the answer and was too embarrassed to question this, thinking you’d have a clever answer. And you did.

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        1. Leisa: Please do not hesitate in the future to point out errors here. I really appreciate corrections. You too will get Gold Stars in your personal file. On this one, I initially just wrote that I had six in-laws. Then I decided to divide them into mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law, but I neglected to change the six to three each. Silly me.

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  2. Interesting. I just got back from visiting the 87-year-old birth mother who gave me up for adoption. Two half sisters as well. It went great. My mom kept it all a secret for over 60 years but was okay sharing details of how I came about. Apparently, I was conceived in Hawaii, and the father was an American who fought in D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge before hiding in Hawaii which was not a state at the time. Three other half siblings on his side. They do not know of my existence.

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    1. Brent: Well, I imagine that was a very interesting visit indeed. Interesting to hear about too. So you’re kinda half-American. Glad to hear the visit went well. Really. Any plans to see them again? And it sounds like your birth mother has kept up with your birth father if she knows about kids he’s since had.

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      1. Well, I was happy to hear that my mom had feelings for my dad, and it wasn’t a rape or some other nastiness. I think my two half sisters will take a trip out to the West Coast to visit me in the next couple of years. My mom, probably not, as she’s getting on. She still walks, drives and thinks well. No Alzheimer’s, so that bodes well for me. She wrote a letter to my birth dad after she found out she was pregnant but didn’t hear back. I’ve done some research on him, and he taught fine arts at universities in California and Washington. Died at 85 ten years ago.

        Anyway, I don’t really consider these people my parents, but it is interesting meeting blood relatives for the first time. I will definitely stay in touch.

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  3. I also believe that one’s childhood has a major effect. I’ve always liked this quote from Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men”: “I think by the time you’re grown you’re as happy as you’re goin to be. You’ll have good times and bad times, but in the end you’ll be about as happy as you was before. Or as unhappy. I’ve knowed people that just never did get the hang of it.”

    Glad you got the hang of it.

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    1. Ray: While my childhood was not on the negative level of both my first wives, there were issues. Of course, virtually everyone has issues. You get/learn good things and bad things from your childhood. Looking back at my first two wives, I have to ask myself: Huh?

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  4. In my opinion, we only have ourselves to blame if we pick the wrong marriage partner.

    Once a marriage dies, we only have ourselves to blame if we don’t bail out soon enough.

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  5. TY for this interesting discussion about wives/in-laws. Some was very funny, but I’m sure it was not fun to live with. I read Steve Cotton’s blog and see your name there often. Just wanted to touch base.

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