The Summons

The three of us were spending a long weekend at my sister-in-law’s on the Eastern shore, 7/29 – 8/1, when I received an email from my dad. The hubs and I climbed into bed around 10pm on 7/29 and I decided to check my emails before turning out the light. I received this VERY formal email from my dad:

“(Your mother) and I tentatively are considering having a brunch for a dozen individuals next Saturday, August 6th. The purpose of this email is to inquire as to whether you would be available to attend such a brunch at our house around 11 a.m. on that date. I know this is very short notice but if it is feasible for you to reply this weekend as to your availability on August 6th (your mother) and I would appreciate you doing so.



P.S. I know that you are away at the beach this weekend, but I was hoping that you would be checking your emails and be able to reply.”

OK, first of all, the editor wannabe in me CRINGED at the words, “…tentatively are considering…” Either you are tentatively having a brunch or considering having a brunch, but “tentatively are considering” is SO WRONG. I was disappointed that it was so late and I was unable to call my dad about this email; it worried me. I read it to the hubs and he had the same reaction as me: “What’s with the formal wording?” We knew something out of the ordinary was up. My dad has been retired from the government for over 9 years, but this email sounded like it was written in “governmentese”. The hubs and I started joking around about why my dad was having this brunch and who the other “…dozen individuals…” could be.

“Maybe your folks won the lottery. Maybe they FINALLY decided to where they are going to retire,” said the hubs. Maybe someone is sick…., I thought. “Maybe someone has died!” I said. I know what you are thinking. Why would someone organize a BRUNCH over a WEEK in advance to announce a DEATH? Well, readers, let me explain my family to you! I am 39 years old, married and a mother with a brother who is a very responsible 42 year old. However, our parents still think we are incapable of handling “news”. Let me give you a couple of examples.

My grandmother (my mom’s mother) died while I was in college and I did not find out about it until after I graduated. And my parents did not VOLUNTEER it after I graduated; some time after graduation I brought up my grandmother and my mom said, WITHOUT looking me in the eye, that she had passed away. “WHAT?! WHEN?!” I exclaimed. My mother informed me that grandma’s death, funeral and burial had occurred during my final year of college and my mother did not feel it was necessary to inform me since I did not have the “ideal” relationship with my grandma. OK, I’ll give you that she was the “B” grandmother and not the “A” grandmother, but she WAS my grandmother, I was an adult when she died and I should have had the decision to go to her funeral or not taken away from me.

Flash forward 17 years and me, the hubs, my brother and my parents are having a lovely Christmas holiday dinner at my mom’s sister’s house. My aunt’s two children are there with one spouse and one finacee. I don’t recall the specifics to led to my conversation halter, but I brought up my mom’s brother who lived in Branson, MO. The entire table went silent. Everyone stopped in mid-rise of a fork to their mouth or just stared at me, open-mouthed. Everyone, that is, except for my mom, who continued to eat while staring directly at her plate. I looked around the table at everyone, wondering what I had said that was so wrong. Finally, one of my cousins said to me, incredulously, “Uncle Gordon died two years ago.” My jaw dropped and my eyes bugged. I turned to look at my mother, but she was still staring straight into her plate, and continued to move the fork from plate to mouth. “Why didn’t you tell me?!” I whispered. She said nothing. I looked at my brother, “Did you know?!” “No,” he said, quietly. I became furious. Furious at the belittling that I was still receiving from my parents as well as the embarrassment I had just suffered in front of family. So, you can understand why I would suspect that a family member might have died and my parents think it OK to invite us over to brunch more than a week later to inform us.

I told the hubs that I would call my mom (an early riser) as soon as we woke up the next day to find out WHAT this email from my dad meant. Then I rolled over, turned out the light and closed my eyes. I was about to nod off when the hubs exclaimed, “I bet your dad finally got his book published!” and scared the bejesus out of me. I thought for a moment and said, “Yes. That is quite possible,” and finally fell asleep.

The hubs was right. At the brunch, my dad announced that the book he had written about his and my mom’s first trip to Alaska had been published! And this isn’t just a travel book about the sights and sounds they experienced in a beautiful state. My parents almost died on this trip, when the state road they were traveling on gave way and their van plummeted down an embankment, rolling over. Of course, they did not tell us what happened and the first time I found out about the details of this accident was when my dad asked me to edit an early version of his book. *rolling my eyes*

It’s so interesting as a child to watch your parents get frustrated and angry at the stubbornness of THEIR parents and then watch your parents repeat this stubborn behavior to us, their own children. I am very proud of my dad for publishing a book. It is a dream of my own, actually, and one that the hubs has been encouraging me to do for quite some time. But my brother and I are in for the fight of our lives when the time comes for the parents to relinquish the reigns to their children…

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