Sunday, November 14, 2004

Home for the Holidays

The family will have to get over the fact that I have decided to stay here and spend Thanksgiving alone rather than with any of them. I'm hoping that they are charitable and blame the "eccentric mathematician" side rather than the "uncaring bitch" side.

On Friday Homeless Relative (HR) emailed: Grandma E. is in the hospital because of heart failure. The next email from him, a few minutes later was some screed against the Bush administration, probably involving a conspiracy theory.

(A word on notation, HR is not really homeless right now because he keeps his stuff at Grandma E.'s place and often stays there at night. And Grandma E. is neither his nor my grandmother, but we call her Grandma when talking to each other because she is the grandmother of a third relative through which HR and I are related.)

I am always being chided for not being kinder to Grandma E. "She's old! Old people are like that!" the other relatives insist. But I find it hard to be always nice and forgiving when she is so passive agressive. She's always so disdainful of me because I don't read books. Even more so because I have no interest in her favorites: history and science fiction. And I don't want to watch her allegedly-fascinating videotopes of a layman's version of quantum physics. She insists that she is always right and refuses to listen to other people's explanations. Sometimes about objective things, too, as she insists that there is no good reason that a negative number times a negative number should be a positive number.

To be fair, Grandma E. has had her share of troubles. She married an American GI/journalist/pulp fiction novelist who left her. After Word War II was over, she had to leave England for New Jersey. She is the source of the magical "get-out-of-the-US-free" cards held by her son's sons.


Everyone was supposed to get together for Thanksgiving to do an intervention of sorts to convice Grandma E. that she needs to move to an assisted living facility. She's had a few falls (I think she blames the dosage of her narcolepsy medications), and she's having trouble keeping up the place and taking care of her cats. Some people wonder if Grandma E. is afraid that HR will have no place to go if she gives up the apartment. Some people think she's just stubborn.

There are no relatives in New Jersey to host Thanksgiving, so her daughter in New York is having Thanksgiving. Everyone was expected to come and to make travel plans.

I did not.

I remembered when Grandma E. cancelled at the last minute when she was supposed to attend her daughter's wedding in New York two years ago (she disapproves). I knew that Grandma E. could tell that something was up and wouldn't want to be badgered by everyone. Why? Because not once did I hear from her that she's dying and that if I don't see her now then I may never see her again and wouldn't I be sorry. My suspicions were confirmed when she asked if she could bring HR with her to New York for Thanksgiving (knowing that the answer was no) (her grandson in Brooklyn could drive her, so it wasn't about needing a ride).

And now there's this cryptic email from HR. What to do but to check on his web page for his cell phone number (I know, high tech homeless -- but he still stores many of his possessions in plastic grocey bags) and call.

Her ankles were swollen when she got up the other day. They think that there's something wrong with the dosage on one of her heart medications. She is not going to New York for Thanksgiving.