Thanksgiving came and went without a single telephone call to my mother from her family. She has two other daughters, two grand-daughters, three grandsons, and two of her seven great-grandchildren are in their twenties, certainly old enough to give the old girl a ring. When I spoke to one of my sisters after the holiday and mentioned in passing that Mom was surprised she had not heard from anyone (actually, what I was trying to do was not go off on her on Mom’s behalf), there was silence at the end of the line for a moment and then she said, in a very surprised tone of voice, “I guess it never occurred to me to call.”
Am I the only one stunned by that remark? Seriously, I’d like to know. Am I over-reacting in my stupefaction that someone would not call their elderly and failing mother (or grandmother) on a holiday (particularly a family oriented holiday like Thanksgiving) to wish her well? The phone call probably would not have lasted more than 10 or 15 minutes. That’s not a big chunk out of anyone’s day.
The other of my sisters calls my mother every week to chat, so I can sort of understand why she didn’t call on Thanksgiving. The rest of the family rarely calls. They did manage on her birthday (November 8), but no one has called since. (If I have one of them on the phone, I’ll often say, “Would you like to talk to Mom?” and they sometimes do, but that’s not the same thing as initiating a call.) One great-grandson promised to call Thanksgiving night, but then got wrapped up (no pun intended) in Black Friday shopping and forgot.
Tonight Mom turned to me out of the blue and said, “I guess no one cares about me, because none of them ever calls. I guess as long as they don’t have to be bothered with me, that’s all that matters.” I didn’t know how to respond besides saying, “I’m sorry.” If the family isn’t calling because they figure this dementia-ridden lady won’t know if they’ve called or not so why bother, they’re wrong. Yes, she’s likely to forget; sometimes she forgets an event within moments. But her forgetfulness is no excuse to forget her.