Failure, shame and the color green

For those of you who’ve read the book, there are a few references to the death of my mother-in-law. After she died, my husband and I opened up our home and invited my father-in-law to move in with us. Let’s just say I learned quite a bit about myself, about my father-in-law, about my husband, and about how you can take the man/woman out of Asia but you can’t take the Asian out of the man/woman.

To help all of us make the transition, we emptied out what had become our family’s favorite room – a room off to the side of the main floor that served as the previous owner’s home office. We moved in my FIL’s king size bed, a dresser, desk, bookcases, etc. to bring a touch of home and privacy.

Short of building a new master suite downstairs, it was the best we could do. And then we did the best we could do. I did the best I could do.

But at some point, the expectations (preparing separate Korean meals when the kids wanted spaghetti) and the realities (that I could barely get the spaghetti on the table, never mind the brown rice and kalbi-tang) collided. Peter and I realized that this was not a long-term solution.

Even my FIL felt the tension as he was used to being more the center of the family. Here in Libertyville the center of the family is always moving. One day it’s Bethany getting ready for her ballet classes. The next day it’s Corban and his lost lego piece.

My FIL has moved in with my sister-in-law. He tells people he would rather live in Chicago but he didn’t want to be a burden to me. Yes, I physically cringed when I first heard that.

But, Peter and I are trying to move beyond unhealthy guilt, balance it with love for my FIL, and live.

So the room that was once the “tv room” and then became “halabujee’s room” is becoming “my office”. Peter and I tore out the ugly blue carpet to find a hardwood floor that needed some love. Peter lovingly sanded, poly-stinky-stained it, painted the trim and then last night helped me with the first coat of Pepper Grass green, eggshell finish. It was the first time I spent more than a few seconds in that room since the end of last year when we moved the last of my FIL’s things out…

My office is now very green – vibrant, rich, full of hope and a little weird.