make my Mother-in-Law happy….
I had already known Laura, my Mother-in-Law, too
well by the summer of
1993 when my parents hosted a huge party to celebrate their 50th
wedding anniversary. So I knew
better than to try to make her happy.
But my brother, Russell, didn’t, so he walked
right into it.
was on the Hudson River Dayliner,
a boat that cruised up and down the
Hudson, from New York to Albany, outfitted for conventions and parties. The trip up and down the Hudson was
truly lovely, on that wider-than-most rivers, passing through history and
nature all the way. My parents had
gone all out, inviting about 150 friends and family. My mom did most of the cooking, for weeks in advance. There
was a small band playing dance
music, and it truly was a great time.
My parents have had a long, life gathering wonderful
friends—it was easy
to enjoy everyone and everything.
we knew Laura wouldn’t enjoy much—she
never has—least of all a party
where everyone else was having a good time. As she predicted before the boat left the dock that she
would become queezy—not enough to barf and get it over with, but plenty to look
miserable and talk about it to anyone unfortunate enough to enter her misery zone. We had begged her to take some
Dramamine before setting sail, but she didn’t like the water available to
swallow the pills. My cousin
Jeanne offered these new wave wrist bands that were designed to target pressure
points to override the inner ear’s message of nausea. But that too Laura refused.
So she sat
by the railing, looking green, surrounded by everyone
one on board not gleaming with the pleasure of celebration and the good
life. Knowing better, her husband
and me and my wife kept our distance.
That’s when my brother, Russel, stepped in—ever
even more cheerful than
me, he gave it a try. “You know,”
he said to Laura, “I’ve heard that it’s better if you sit in the center of the
ship—away from the railing where the shore makes it obvious that you’re on a
rocking boat. In the center,
facing a wall, it’s easier for your body to ignore the motion. You’ll
feel better in no time!”
turned to him with irritation, and said, “What, and miss the view?”