It’s one of the great deterrents to missing the big family reunion. An occurrence that is both chilling and soul crushing. It spawns nightmares. It is the phone call of bitter disappointment.
Your grandmother: I can see you’re well enough to answer your phone.
You: I’m doing better.
Your grandmother: We missed you at the reunion.
Your family doesn’t really miss you in the way a caring human being misses another human being; they miss you the way a viper strikes at a helpless bunny but misses.
You: I was in a car accident.
Your grandmother: How could you be so careless when you know the big family reunion is coming up.
You: The other guy ran a stop sign.
Your grandmother: Don’t blame some innocent person because you couldn’t be bothered to spend some time with your family.
You: He wasn’t as much innocent as he was a serial killer attempting to evade the police.
Your grandmother: I’ll bet he spent time with his family.
You: I’m sure he did; it takes time to cut people into tiny pieces and bury them in the backyard.
Your grandmother: He obviously puts more thought into his family than you do.
You: Oh, I think our thoughts are the same, the difference is in the execution.
Your grandmother: What’s that?
You: Never mind. Anyway, I have several broken bones.
Your grandmother: Just several? How many is several?
Your grandmother: Just five? There are thousands of bones in the human body.
You: I think there’s only 206 bones in the human body.
Your grandmother: So you have over 200 bones in your body that are perfectly fine.
You: Yes, but some of the broken ones are pretty important.
Your grandmother: More important than your family?
You: One of them punctured a lung.
Your grandmother: You have two lungs don’t you? Or do I have that number wrong too?
You: No. I think that’s the correct amount.
Your grandmother: Do you remember the year your Uncle Chet had that horrible accident? He stayed all the way until the end the reunion…even with that arrow stuck in the side of his head.
You: Strictly speaking, I’m not sure it qualifies as an accident if someone shoots you on purpose.
Your grandmother: Regardless, he sat there quietly without a word of complaint. Brain fluid dripping out–it almost put me off your Aunt Zelda’s potato salad.
You: I wish we could get through just one family get-together without some form of bodily fluid making an appearance…or Aunt Zelda’s potato salad.
Your grandmother: The point is: if your uncle could be there with an injured brain, you could have been there with an injured lung.
You: To be fair–I actually use my lungs.
Your grandmother: You are a bitter disappointment.
You: I am aware of that.
Your grandmother: I’ll probably be dead before next year’s reunion.
You: hopefully one of us will be.
You hear the receiver crash into the cradle as your grandmother hangs up on you. You’ve always thought your grandmother has kept that old rotary phone just for the ability to dramatically slam the phone down.
You can’t recall the last conversation with her that actually ended with a goodbye.