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“Don’t let Harriet catch you doing that!”
This was the warning from my future father-in-law, Christmas 2002. My engagement to his son had been announced. After the hubbub died down I rolled up my sleeves to pitch in with the dishes and laid tea towels end-to-end on the kitchen counter to increase the drip-dry acreage for all the extra pots and pans.
It was a fairly common practice in my family but in the Hauser house it was strictly forbidden—something about tea towels and not getting them wet.
“Are you serious?” I asked.
“Just don’t let her see it” he whispered.
The exchange taught me two things about my future mother-in-law. First, that our domestic standards couldn’t be further apart. Second, that the effects of Glaucoma, even at 80 years of age, hadn’t yet forced her to lower hers in the slightest. Blurry vision be damned, she would find out what you were up to in the kitchen.