Monday, May 4, 2015


A month ago, she called to tell them about the girls' spring recital.

"It won't be a very big bunch of kids, but you'll be able to hear the girls sing." They always loved the girls' voices. They'd been begging, for years, to have the girls sing for them.

"That sounds nice," the man said. "We'd like to come. Just let me know the date."

"I can even come drive you down, if you want me to," she said. "I'll let you know when I find out which day. It's in May, probably early on."

"Sounds good," he said. "Say hi to the kids."

 As soon as she hung up the phone, she emailed the singing teacher and asked about the date of the recital. A Saturday would be better for us, she wrote, because I might have to drive and go get them. And Saturdays are easier on everyone's schedule. Including their schedule.

The next time she called, she was happy the man picked up the phone, since she preferred to give him the date of the recital. Truth be told, despite his many years, he might be considered the more responsible of the two parties that live at that house. His memory loss is simply due to old age; the woman's, well, no one's sure, but the guesses are plenty.

"Hey, I wanted to let you know that the recital is going to be Saturday, May 16th. I'll let you know more later." She didn't think to tell him to write the date down on the calendar.

"Great. It will be good to see the kids. I miss seeing them." His voice sounded wistful.

She got off the phone, feeling slightly guilty that it had been months since the pair had seen the kids. But she realized that it had been a long, cold, germ-infested winter for their family and each time they'd prepared to go for a visit, someone had been waylaid by sickness. It would be good for everyone to have a visit mid-May. Fewer germs to pass around and springtime in the air.

So there it was, May 2, and she figured that the man might want the details of the recital, so the trip could be planned. The gig would start at 10:30 a.m., so coming in on Friday night might be best, but as usual, she'd welcome them for as long as they'd like to stay. She needed to find out what they would prefer to do.

And so she called them again. But before she could tell the man about the recital details, he gave his partner the phone. She went ahead and started to give the woman the information: "I want to let you know that on the 16th, the recital for the can come down whenever you want..."

"Oh," the woman interrupted. "We can't come then. I think we have something that day. Let me check." The ruffle of calendar pages echoed over the receiver and then a faint, "Yes. We're meeting with the Bs that day."

She gulped. A million thoughts tumbled through her mind at once, none of which she voiced. Tears welled in her eyes. She thought perhaps that she'd misheard the woman, but she knew she hadn't.

"Okay. Well. I have marshmallows to take care of...we're dipping marshmallows. I'll talk to you later."

"Marshmallows, huh? Okay we'll talk to you soon."

She clicked the end button of the phone, tossed the chocolate-covered marshmallows onto the wax paper, and rushed up the stairs. Before she hit the top step, the flood gates opened.

As she sat on the trunk in her room, she tried to rub the hurt away from her chest. While their actions were not surprising, they still hurt. How, how could they do this to her again? More importantly, how could they do this to the kids? What in the hell was their problem? Could they not see what they were doing? Placing themselves above everyone else? The Bs lived in the same state they did. Couldn't they cancel and reschedule those plans so they could attend the recital? Shouldn't they cancel those plans?

As soon as she had her emotions under control, she called them back.

"Hi. It's me. Put him on the phone, please," she said.

"Oh, okay. He's right here." She didn't know if the woman knew what she wanted. She didn't care. She just needed to feel peace.


"Can you tell me why you scheduled to go out with the Bs the same date as the recital? I told you about the recital date."

The man didn't hesitate. "I don't have an answer for that."

"Well you hurt me," she said. "And I'm calling to tell you that."

She can't remember what else she said before hanging up a second time. She fixates now on the fact that he didn't have an answer. An answer that a simple, I forgot to write it on the calendar would have fixed. Or, I got confused. Or, Oops. I guess we can reschedule with the Bs. All of the answers that normal people would have at the ready. But the point is, they are not normal and they might never have been. What they value and what she values are not the same. She should not have even bothered to ask them to come to the recital.

And that's her new rule. Don't ask. For if she doesn't, she will not be disappointed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this story!! Have had nearly the same phone conversations myself, it's exactly how my family operates. And it always ends with me making up rules that I won't do this or that again, I won't expect anything, so I won't get hurt... I always do, and I'm always disappointed.