Mama Gin, pictured on the right, with her sister-in-law and first-born son, shortly after her immigration from China. She sees producing offspring as her only duty in life, and having produced five children, she considers herself exempt from any further responsibility to the world. Note the vacant look on her face.
My mother-in-law is demented.
She moved to NYC from China in the 1940s, but never really had to learn much English because she never worked outside the home. Unlike her gregarious, outgoing husband Johnny who spoke good English and had lots of friends and acquaintances from all walks of life, How Gin (whom we affectionately refer to as "Mama Gin") spent most of her US life either gambling at the horse races, or stewing away inside the filthy apartment that she didn't "keep" for her family of five children, the youngest of which is my better half, George. (Referred to by Mama Gin as "Georg-ee-ya!!" in the shrillest, most piercing voice you could ever imagine.)
If Mama Gin were to be evaluated by a team of mental health professionals (and it would take an entire team to deal with her) she would be diagnosed with the following. Note that this list is illustrative, not exhaustive:
2. Antisocial Personality Disorder
3. Borderline Personality Disorder
4. Bipolar Disorder
Unfortunately, she has never been evaluated professionally since she was able to hide away within her family for fifty plus years. Her children have never succeeded at getting her to "see" someone. And, she is able to get around well enough on her own that, at best, she would be seen as an eccentric not bad enough to be institutionalized. Although at least two of her children claim the real reason she can't be institutionalized is that she is too filthy for any home to want her.
I have an entire arsenal of stories to share about living in the same house as Mama Gin for the past seven years. For the newly initiated to the details of my daily life, Georg-ee-ya and I live in a three-apartment brownstone in Brooklyn. Georg-ee-ya and I share the basement; Mama Gin occupies the first floor, and tenants rent the second floor. It's just one big happy family.
It will take some time for you to get to know and understand her unparalleled lunacy, so for now I will just start by telling you that Mama Gin cares about exactly four things:
1. Horse racing
2. Staying as filthy as possible
3. Seeing to it that there is no fire of any kind in the back yard (such as grills, lanterns or tiki torches)
4. Insisting that Georg-ee-ya marry a female and produce offspring before she dies.
Needness to say, Mama Gin is not fond of me, as I am a direct threat to her in at least three of the four areas listed above. Oh the tales you will hear. Brace yourselves, Gentle Readers.
Mama Gin, pictured outside the house in her pink parka, on the morning that an oil delivery truck mistakenly flooded our apartment with 100 gallons of heating fuel. This picture was taken about 30 minutes after Mama Gin tried to send the Haz-Mat cleanup crew away because she doesn't like strangers in the house. These men were wearing gas masks and rubber clothing while they ripped up the flooring of the apartment, yet Mama Gin thought it would be sufficient for me to use her dirty mop to clean up the oil spill. Ruby, George's sister, is pictured on the left. The black barrels contain some of the flooring and walls of the apartment. And those are my legs you see, sitting on the bench in front of the house, in utter despair.