Pam, my mother-in-law popped round today, laden with food as usual. When Polly and I first got together she was not best pleased. Her darling youngest daughter had been away for a year in Romania looking after the babies with no mummies and daddies and now she was back and everything was going to go back to how it had been before she left. Paula had recently married and moved to Ramsgate and Irene was in Texas. Polly was going to move back in to the family home, go back to nursery nursing and that would be that. Unfortunately she hadn't taken me in to account.
The first time I met Pam was when I brought Polly home from the airport. A friend and I had picked her up from Stanstead Airport. It had been the first time we had laid eyes on each other since the phone call in February (see A Fine Romance (Part 2)). The meeting with Pam was brief but cordial. Polly was hustled in side and Pam thanked me politely. It was all a bit anti-climatic after all the anticipation.
A few hours later Polly was standing on my doorstep and grinning from ear to ear. From then on we spent as much time together as possible. And the more time we spent together the less pleased Pam was. Pam's displeasure caused Polly a great deal of distress. She and her mother had always been very close and the tension was hurting both of them. When I proposed to Polly a few weeks later matters came to a head. The situation became intolerable with Polly torn between her family and her fiancé. I recognised that Pam had legitimate concerns. She didn't know me, she'd only briefly met a guy in a wheelchair who had snared her daughter, of course she was worried. She also felt she was going to lose Polly if we moved away like Paula and Irene. So, one evening I settled down to write one of the most important things I've ever written, a letter to Pam.
I can't remember exactly what I wrote but I do know that I assured her that no one would ever love Polly as much as I did. I sent the letter and that was it. It was as if a switch had been thrown. Pam's acceptance was total. I was family. Pam is of a generation and background that doesn't express love with hugs and words. She uses food. The first meal she ever cooked me was steak and chips, mushrooms, tomatoes and onion rings. British readers will know what I mean when I say that the plate was piled high like an illustration from the Beano or Dandy. It was the kind of meal Desperate Dan would tuck in to. It was enormous. And I, wary or my new welcome status, felt obliged to eat it all. My stomach tighter than a drum, I forced the last chip down to Pam's obvious delight. She immediately bustled out to the kitchen to prepare a second serving. I silently pleaded with Polly to intercede and then heard her assuring Pam that a second steak would only spoil me. Pam was only mollified when she was able to present me with a vast meringue and ice cream confection..
Throughout the years of my marriage Pam has rarely arrived to visit with out a bag full of cakes, biscuits and chocolate. If I ate everything she brought for me I would be the type or person who needs a fire crew and team of engineers to get out of the house. Polly assures me that if she stops bringing. food she will have stopped loving me. So far there's no sign of me going hungry.