So today marked the 95th annual Welcome to Hell reunion. Mr. Mister’s side of the family. We’re regulars. Mostly. We’ve had a few years off here and there, but 80% of the time, we throw our kids and casserole into the mini and drive an hour to sit in the sun with people who probably won’t be alive next year.
We weren’t actually planning to go to this year’s reunion since we’d gone the year before (and the year before, and the year before… get the picture?), BUT due to some poor/brilliant planning by the rest of the family, we were the only ones in town this weekend. That meant we were volunteered to give Grandma a ride. Again. Yes, we could have said no, but that would have made Grandma hate me more and then she would have been forced to ride with her 90 year old sister and her 348 year old boyfriend, and well, I couldn’t be responsible for the mayhem and death that probably would have taken place on I-Northward.
Fine. We’ll go. We’ll throw Grandma in the van and I’ll wedge the walker somewhere between my ass cheeks and my daughter’s right elbow. Whatever. Heat’s only bad when you try to do things like breathe and move. Who doesn’t like mayonnaise based salads that have been sitting in the heat for a few hours? Uncomfortable conversations with people who know even less about you than you do about them are FUN! Per my style, I was determined to make the best of it. *sigh*
Like I said, Grandma doesn’t like me. She’s not mean to me in the sense that she screams and slaps when I come near, but she gets her digs in. Mostly I let them slide because she’s old and my momma raised me to never eat an old person. With a pulse.
Mr. Mister tells Grandma that we’ll pick her up at 11:15. He called her during the week to remind her: 11:15. We get a message at 11:10. We’re five minutes away from her home. “It’s me. It’s 11:10. I guess maybe you aren’t coming.” There was tone, people. TONE. I narrowed my eyes and looked at my husband. “Oh, no she din’t.” He shook his head and reminded me that in Grandma’s eyes this is my fault and now she hates me even more – which I’m not sure is possible. We open her door at 11:20. Ever got a withering look from a withered person? Yeah. So we swam in that for a few minutes as we gathered her walker, her casserole, her 700 pound family tree album, her hat (but not that one, the other one. The other one!) and loaded Grandma into the mini. Which really, whatever was I thinking when I designed them to be so high off the ground?
“Is Aunt Crazy Pants going to be there?” I asked. (Aunt Crazy Pants is her “younger” sister. No love lost between them.) Grandma’s sharp, judgmental, accusing eyes met mine. “I’ll be she and her boyfriend are farther down the road than we are.”
“Watch your foot,” I said
after I shut the door and gently shut the door.
We drove the hour. She and Mr. Mister debated on whether or not he’d said 11:00 or 11:15. I reminded myself that this was a big day for her, and when I’m 94 reunions will be important to me. She doesn’t drive and her family peers don’t drive. Unless you count Aunt Crazy Pants’ boy toy Woody. They’re at the mercy of the whims of others. Contact with people they grew up with, people they share history and tears and laughter with, is limited to funerals, weddings (if they’re before bedtime), and the hottest, most humid day of the summer. So yeah, it makes sense she’d be chomping at the bit. Lighten up, Sassy. Have a heart.
That made things bearable, and I vowed to be the best reunion care nurse there! I would give her no reason to hate me more. I might even earn points. I was going to be that good. And I was. I got her a seat on the end so she didn’t have to crawl over the bench. I filled her plate with everything she wanted (except macaroni and cheese and fried chicken. Despite her insistence that those items were on the buffet, THEY WEREN’T ON THE BUFFET!), I gave her iced water, I got her dessert. I threw away her trash. I got her 2 (and ONLY two) deviled eggs – the ones from Glenda NOT the ones from Zelma ’cause Zelma doesn’t use enough mustard. I bussed tables for her siblings. I got them drinks and food and desserts and ice and made sure they all had a ride to the bathroom. I made sure no one had heat stroke. I RULED!!!
Mr. Mister played corn hole. Princess wilted in the hot hot sun. Girlfriend played corn hole, basketball, and volleyball. The Negotiator forced the only child her age to play this is my f’d up imagination game and you will say what I tell you to say when I tell you to say it game. I drove people to the bathroom and made sure they didn’t die from the heat. Not on my watch, buddy.
And then… It was immediately after our bathroom break, Princess had taken it upon herself to pack up our gear. She was finished and cranky. Girlfriend had nearly given herself heat stroke with her efforts to find entertainment. The Negotiator was red faced, sweaty, and had sucked the life out of her distant cousin who wanted to be anywhere but there. Of the 43 people who had shown, maybe 10 remained, and they were doing the let’s call it a day dance. It was time to go. Even I, care taker supreme, was anxious to see if Woody and Aunt Crazy Pants had caused any pile ups on I-South. I dropped Grandma off at the pavilion to say her good-byes and parked the van. I did not immediately exit the van because Princess and I were talking about how fucking hot it was and it wouldn’t kill anyone if I played just one level of Angry Birds.
This did not please Grandma. Mr. Mister informed me that I had ruined the reunion experience because I had made her leave early. It wasn’t that I said, “We’re leaving. NOW.” It was that I just, according to Grandma, sat in the van pressuring her to leave with my silence. “Well,” he said in his best Grandma imitation. “I guess she’s ready to go.” Again, there was TONE. Old woman! I just saved your life. If I hadn’t been there to ninja death grip your elbow in that bathroom you would have crumbled like bacon and sustained a life ending head wound on the edge of the questionably clean bathroom sink!
Yes, I know how this makes me sound. But until you’re there, SUCK IT.
In Mr. Mister’s defense he said, “Grandma, if we stay 5 more minutes we’ll be the last ones here. Everyone is leaving. Look around.” He says she refused to look around. I told him it’s because she’s 94 and her neck doesn’t work any more. It’s like he wanted her to break it or something!!! And yet I’m the bad guy.
*This was just a really long way of saying that the day was long and hot and I really would have rather spent it at home in my pool arguing with my husband about the kitchen renovations that aren’t going to happen.
**Family reunions can be great fun. Ours usually aren’t, but yours might be.
***Yes, I love my husband’s grandma. Yes, she really is like this. No, this is not hyperbole.
**** Yes, I’ll probably drive her again next year when the rest of the family “forgets” that the reunion has been on the same fucking day for the past 94 fucking years.
*****Yes, I will complain bitterly and once again I will nominate both of Mr. Mister’s absent sisters for reunion offices. Enjoy writing those invites and taking notes at the next one, bishes!!