Mother-in-Law-Olga...Better Known as MILO

At 87 years young and sharp as a tack, my Mother-in-Law is without question, a force to be reckoned with. Opinions ohne Ende (without an end)  and an array of off-color commentary to match, she is without a doubt one of the most straight-talking (at times brutally so) people I know. Ours is a sound relationship that despite its level of warmth and understanding still leaves me shaking my head in disbelief one minute and slowly grinding away the enamel on my teeth the next.

V and MILO

V and MILO

MILO was raised in a small, provincial village in the Swiss Alps and at the tender age of 22 made the solitary move to South Africa during Apartheid's dark hours. There she met and married V’s ultra-conservative German father who, a year after V's birth, whisked them back to Europe when concerns that the majority population coming to power consumed his waking thoughts. Ultimately this burgeoning family settled into the quaint, hometown village where V's father grew up, insulated by a vast forest, a low mountain range and a handful of stalwart family names that traced their history back a 1000 years.

Fast forward to present day…

V was not the first white guy on my past dating roster and consequently I had had my fair share of experiences meeting the respective parents. Although always fortunate that those encounters were positive in nature,  I was nevertheless prepared for even the most liberal of sorts to take issue when things between me and "the apple of their eye" might take a step beyond the casual. In quickly coming to terms with the environment with which V was raised - "Honey, the first time I saw a black person was when I left home at 18 to attend university in Cologne"- I figured that meeting V’s mother would not come without its fair share of well, issues.

"Have you told your mother yet that I am black."

"Ah honey, why should I? Who cares?!"

"I am guessing probably your Mother."

"Oh for God's sake she will find out when she meets you."

"That’s a little late in my book."

And so went on the endless conversations over the course of the months leading up to V and I moving to Germany.

And then one day…

"Have you told your mother yet that I am black."

"Ah honey, why should I. Who cares?!"

"I am guessing probably your Mother."

"You know the thing is she actually already knows what you look like. Remember that first photo of us I sent to my brother awhile back?’’


"Well he was visiting my Mother a week or so ago and actually ended up showing it to her."

"Uhhh, really? Was there any precursor to it… like oh by the way…."

"Oh for God's sake why should there be – she can see for herself what you look."

"So tell me…what did she say?"

Pregnant pause - "Oh she's Negro and with an afro.'”


Me and MILO

Me and MILO

And so it is that five years have come and gone since my first sense of the woman I have come to know as MILO. In that time I can honestly say that despite our profound differences, we have found common ground and while our times are not without their challenges - we have come to understand that most things can be solved with a deep breath and VERY full glass of wine.  Here's to us MILO.