Just need to get my father-in-law's last days off my chest.

Started by

My father-in-law (a wonderful person) died in November. The lousy life my MIL put him through in the last half year makes me so resentful at times. My FIL was admitted to the hospital on a Saturday night and died the following Friday. My MIL had his oxygen (C-pap I think it is called) pulled before any of the family could get there and not even my husband got to say good-bye to his Dad. On the Friday before my FIL went to the hospital I was at their house most of the day taking care of a plumbing problem. My MIL obviously thought that I couldn't hear her. By tone and word she made it so obvious to my FIL that he was a terrible burden that I thought, "If I were Dad, I'd kill myself." My FIL did not feel well--he'd been in the hospital for pnuemonia two weeks before and had a 2:00 appointment with the Dr. because I had strongly suggested that they go to the doctor. They went and when they got back the MIL was flaming mad.

Well! she huffed, "That was a complete waste of time." I asked if the Dr. said that nothing was wrong with Dad. She said that the Dr. said he was ill and if he wasn't better by Monday, they would put him in the hopital and then in the nursing home for some care.
Saturday I came to finish the plumbing job, in the afternoon my husband came to help finish and we were done at about 2:30p.m. My FIL looked so miserable that my husband asked him if he needed to goto the ER. My MIL piped up with, "The Dr. said he was to go to the hospital on Monday and then to the nursing home, if he isn't better by then." Then she huffed out of the room. I went over to his wheelchair and said, "Dad, do you need to go to the ER?" He just looked at me pitifully , hung his head and said, "No, but I just feel terrible." Then a tear ran down his cheek and he repeated that he felt terrible three more times. My husband told him to call if he needed anything.

At about 7:45 my husband wenn't done as usual to help get his dad in bed. At 8:45 our phone rang, it was the MIL and I could hear here al the way across the room. "Well," she said, "You father just had me call 911. You know how he always thinks there is something wrong with him and he has to be the center of attention, so no the ambulace in coming. I hate to think what that will cost." (They are very comfortable, financially.) When my husband hung up, I said that he should probably go down, so that he would feel better about what was happening. When my husband got there the peramedics had just arrived and my FIL was lying in his own fecal matter. They took my FIL to the ER and we followed. My MIL drove herself and was there when we arrived. My FIL went almost straight to the intensive care unit (his body temp was 91) and we went home when he was comfortable. Sunday was spent waiting, keeping him comfortable and doing tests.

Monday I went to the hospital first thing in the am. The MIL was there and told me that the internest had just been there and said that Dad's thyroid was really low and he had pnuemonia. Then she said they had a decision to make about whether or not Dad was going to had a lung tapped for both comfort and diagnostic purposes. I asked why wouldn't they do this. She said, (right in front of Dad) "Well, tapping his lung won't make him walk or get rid of his swelling in his legs, and help him use his arms or help his depression, so maybe it is just time that he went home to be with the Lord." I tried to explain that Dad's depression (and perhaps even the recent weakness in his arms) might be due to low thyroid and if his levels came up he might feel more like living. Then she said, "Well five years is a long time to take care of someone." Again, this was right in front of Dad--she and I were standing on either side of the bed right next to him. She hadn't given him a chance to talk.

I said, "Ok, do you hear the lady across the hall? (she was gasping for every breath) She is dying because she can't get enough oxygen, that's what your going to put Dad through and it's long and painful." Then I turned around and walked out of the room so that I wouldn't say anything I'd be sorry for later; I also called my husband and told him I wasn't dealing with this by myself. I also called their pastor, because I knew she would never behave like this in front of her church. The both got there at about the same time as the internist returned (I'd asked for him to be paged). While we were all in the room discussing the news and the lung tap my FIL said, "Ok, I want quiet and I will tell you what I want. I want to have the lung tap and if it is cancer (the x-ray showed a mass), I don't want any treatment, but if it isn't cancer then I want treatment." We went into hall with the internist to see the x-ray and during that time my FIL had an anxiety produce breathing event

My MIL (who had stayed in the room) rushes out and says, "He can't breathe and he is says he just wants to go," and she keeps repeating this over and over. I sent my husband into the room and the internist sent the nurse with medication. Then the pastor says to the internist, "I think that we got Mr. _____'s answer about treatment. He wants to have the lung tap and treatment, if it is not cancer. My husband and the pastor left. I stayed until the lung tap was done in the afernoon (5:30p.m.). The Dr. doing the lung tap wanted all family to wait in the lounge. I went to the lounge and the MIL stood her ground. About 10 minutes later, she comes into the lounge saying that the Dr. made her leave. About 15 min later the Dr. comes to the lounge and reports that the tap went well. He spoke looking at me, not her and when he left she said, "you would think that you were the wife, not me."
The lung tap results showed that protien had grown in the lung fluid.


If the two of you thought he needed to go to the hospital sooner than Mon you could have taken him since the wife could not make the decision and some doc do not want to bother with pts. on a weekend but prevailing minds might just have to take him there for his sake. He would not call your husband since the wife did not want him to go any earlier than Mom.
I am so sorry about your father-in-law. It is so hard to deal with emotions at a time like this. He sounded like a wonderful man. It is really hard to watch people you care so much about suffer and go through neglect and abuse at the hands of someone who is supposed to care for and about them. It sounds like you tried to help him. Please take comfort in what you were able to do for him, and not blame yourself for what you couldn't change.
man what a witch ! theres a old saying what goes around comes back around . ur mil has a rude awakin comin when she starts ailing.
i bet ur fil feels so much better and is not in pain anymore and gotten away from his wicked wife . again i am sorry for ur loss and am so sorry that he had to put up with his wife .
wonder why ur husband didnt do any growling toward his mother ? is he afraid of her too ?
Wow, if only you could repeat history, eh? My sister who lived with MOM before I arrived to care for her 8 years ago...she would make these dangerous comments all the time about Mom and what a piece of ^*(@* she was. Mom had to go to hospital for broken hip and I'd hear 'Well it won't be long now, at this age they don't recover from an operation like this"...and so forth.

It took me about a year to finally banish this sister from Mom's presence. And guess what, even though she used Mom's credit card and didn't pay off the balance, even though she got a loan and didn't pay back a cent, even though she forged a check (breaking into the house to get at checkbook)...the judge said (at conservator hearing) "I don't care if your sister is in jail for murder, she still has a RIGHT TO VISIT HER MOTHER."

If this speech came from the mouth of a paid caregiver, that person would be arrested for elder abuse. Why do we tolerate this kind of behavior from family when we'd immediately kick out and arrest a non-family caregiver?

So sorry you had this nightmare to contend with. Hope your MIL is very happy now that she's got her way. What IS her frame of mind now? Sounds like your story was chopped off. Could you continue the story? What was the funeral like?
Yes, do continue the story. How is your MIL acting now? My MIL might act the same way if my FIL got to that stage. She complained loud and long when she was 50 and he was 58 and had a massive heart attack. She had to go to work for the first time in her life! Now 23 years later, she complains about his doctor's appointments and the long wait in the waiting room. And he is in decent health, just can't drive.
Bookdiva, I can see the writing on the wall. As soon as your MIL gets sick and needs help, she's gonna call on her son and you to help her. Never mind how she treated her own husband, that won't matter to her. You and your husband need to be talking about this now as to what your response's will be when the call comes. Because believe me, it WILL come. Be prepared and be united.

Sounds like she couldn't wait to get rid of him. Their relationship over the years might not have been the greatest, but that's no excuse for not trying to make a moribund person as comfortable as possible on his/her way out of this purgatory we call Earth.

When my father was dying, my mother showed up at Columbia-Presb. Hosp. here in NYC only to ask "Is he dead yet? I want what's mine." She wasn't entitled to jack, didn't get anything, and won't as long as I live. The doctors eventually told me there wasn't anything else they could do, and suggested I take him home. As I bathed him one last time, he went to sleep in my arms and the last words he mumbled were "Thank you." About 40 minutes later Mom popped up. My sons answered the door, told her this wasn't a good time, and politely asked her to leave. Trying to barge in, she kept repeating "Yo quiero lo mio. ... Yo quiero lo que me pertenece." ("I want what's mine. ... I want what belongs to me.") If my sons hadn't stopped me I'd still be in prison.

I couldn't believe how abusive -- if not outright cruel -- people can be when others are at their weakest. 12 years later, she's still bent on getting what's hers. ... And I'm sure she'll eventually get all she deserves. Everyone in the family keeps giving me the who "forgiveness" spiel, but what I am is extremely disappointed that the woman he loved till his last breath had such a heart of stone that no one else's feelings mattered but her own. In retrospect, they never did, never have, and never will.

Her common-law "husband" (they never really married) and children were mere investments, yet we all continued to refine our memories to believe she did the best with what she had. The fact is that she's a self-serving, sub-human and callous individual. ... When her time comes I'll make her as comfortable as I can. Perhaps then she'll be able to see the light. Whatever light that is.

My thoughts are with you Diva, and the more you share the faster you'll heal. When a loved one passes away, a piece of us goes with them; leaving a void to be filled with support and priceless, happy memories that enhanced the quality of our lives. This shell we call a body might be gone, but as long as we keep them in our hearts their spirit will go on living and give us the strength to do the same.

Be well my friend, and keep coming back.

-- ED
Ed, what a story. Who would believe this as a storyline even in the cheapest soap opera on TV? How hard it is to know we've given our best under the circumstances, while others are letting their cheap and evil sides prevail. Usually at least people pretend to be sorry, or at least respectful. I think some may actually be transformed by those last days, feeling guilty how petty they have been. But then, maybe not. I have a selfish sister, two of them, as was guiltily amused when they both came down with MSRA infections.

But if this really WERE a punishment of sorts, it had no real satisfaction in it. Nothing short of an admission to their behavior...as the Meryl Streep movie "It's Complicated," where the jerky ex husband apologized for his behavior. Not just recent jerkiness, but ALL of it, from not getting her to leaving her. The whole line of perpetrations back and back and back. These "I'm sorry" pathetic attempts that we are seeing with Sandra Bullock's ex and Tiger Woods. These are so general, they leave out the thousand steps it takes to betray someone. "I knew it was wrong when i lingered to talk to her. I knew I was betraying you when I took her phone number. I knew I was betraying you when I dialed her number. I even called you when she was next to me in a hotel room."

This sort of behavior by the MIL and Ed's own mother...this is not one action, but a string of hurtful decisions that the perpetrator insisted on doing. Bleeech.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support