My sister in Harrisonburg is kind of miffed that we forgot to tell her that the mama cat at Family HQ had kittens on Wednesday. There were four, incidentally, and they’re just darling, and if all goes well, I’ll be bringing two of them to live with me around the end of November. But yeah, we forgot to tell her.
It turns out that we have major issues communicating, especially now that we’ve all spread out from headquarters. There have been numerous occasions since I moved when I’d call both of my parents and one or more of my sisters to see what the plan was for a given weekend, and no one knew. Or, better yet, Mom would ask me if I knew what Dad’s plan was for X event or Y game, and then I’d call him and ask him, and then I’d call her back and let her know.
I’ve been back to headquarters a lot since I moved, and I can confirm that both of my parents still do live in the SAME HOUSE. They see each other every day. They speak actual words to each other. But then you ask what time they’re leaving to go to a softball tournament, and all of a sudden I’m playing a bad game of Telephone and we’re going to the movies or something. Or the tournament has been cancelled and no one remembered to tell me. No one remembers to tell me anything.
Or they’ll call Sammi and ask her if I’m taking her home this weekend, and then Sammi will call me and ask if I’m taking her home this weekend, because she didn’t know she was supposed to go home this weekend, and I’ll call HQ and ask if I’m supposed to be taking her home this weekend or what, because I had plans but I guess I could change them, and whichever parent I happen to catch on the phone has no idea, and asks the other parent, who’s then like, “I thought this was all her idea,” and then we’re back at Square 1 and I’m like no seriously, guys, I CALLED YOU, so what the crap is going on?
This kind of communicative idiocy is apparently hardwired into our genetic code, though, because we’re definitely not the first generation to have this problem.
Years and years ago, oh about twenty-five of them to be more precise, my mother’s paternal grandfather, Grandpa Lee, passed away on February 8th. My parents had been stationed in Puerto Rico for a few months at that time, so they were kind of out of the loop on things anyway. But no one called on February 8th to tell my mom her grandpa had died because I was due to be born any day, and they didn’t want her to freak out and have problems with me because of the bad news.
A few weeks or months later, when I was causing problems outside the womb rather than in it, my mother’s father called to let her know about her Grandpa Lee’s death. She was kind of upset that she hadn’t been told right away, but understood why they didn’t want to upset her, and she and her dad talked for a while and reminisced about her grandpa’s life.
And then he said something along the lines of how he remembered that Ole used to do such-and-such when he was still alive.
Mom’s like, “Grandpa Ole died too?!”
Grandpa Ole (pronounced “OH-lee,” short for Olen) was Mom’s maternal grandfather. And he had in fact died — a few years before. And no one had remembered to tell my mom.
Mom’s parents were divorced, and her dad thought her mom would tell her, and her mom thought her dad would tell her, and ultimately no one told her until his death was mentioned in passing in a phone conversation years later.
This story comes up every now and then and I’m like “Hey parents, could you please remember to give me a buzz if anyone dies?” and they like to joke around and be all, well maybe, if we remember.
I need to make my parents wear ID bracelets that say something like In case of emergency, death in the family, or Major News, please call the following: and then it will have my name and number and my sisters’ names and numbers all listed.
And as they get older, I may need to add If found, call xxx-xxxx because if they’re this confused and forgetful now, what are they going to be like when they’re all wandering around senile?