Things have been going smoother since the "blowup" at dinner, but even though I've learned a lot about how to be a proper daughter-in-law, I still felt like we were kind of tip-toeing around each other. Plus Okaasan is up early and has the laundry hung out and the yard swept every day before I even wake up. Everybody said not to worry about it, but I still felt like I wasn't doing my share.

Well, all that changed last weekend. Saturday I woke up earlier than usual because of an ambulance siren, really close. Then it stopped out front. The men came rushing into the house, loaded Okaasan onto a stretcher and took off! Before I could even find out what was wrong, everybody was heading off to the hospital. All I got was a quick "I'll call you as soon as we know something. Take care of things here."

So, I started with the laundry and sweeping the yard. I took the garbage to the collection place. I put the futons out to sun, then fixed some food for when they got back. The newspaper man came to collect and I paid him. I talked to a door-to-door insurance saleswoman. A neighbor brought the circulating neighborhood announcement folder. I looked it over, stamped it with our family name, and took it to the next house. Nothing very crucial, I thought.

Just before noon, everyone came home, even Okaasan . She had gotten an I.V. drip treatment for a bout of low blood pressure—nothing serious. So everything turned out OK, but the best part for me is the change in everyone's attitude. You'd think I had saved the day single-handed by holding down the fort. Okaasan is back to her usual routine. And, they've started telling me to do things when they want me to do something. I feel much more relaxed.

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