Clear As Mud


mud (Photo credit: Nick Saltmarsh)

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.


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's, Dementia, Family, Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Clear As Mud

  1. Not making excuses for anyone but I think it’s just another sign of the times. It’s a sad fact that unless they can text or email someone, many people these days just don’t bother to communicate. I have to admit that I’m not a ‘phone’ person. I’m not a great conversationalist and I find talking on the phone even more difficult so I can’t really complain when, for instance, I don’t hear anything from my grandsons for months on end, other than the occasional facebook comment. Still, it would have been nice for your Mom if she’d received a call from other members of the family especially on Thanksgiving. Perhaps they’ll make up for it at Christmas.

  2. John says:

    We experienced a similar thing in my family years ago when my Mom was sick. This lack of concern – cause that is certainly how it is perceived – is pretty much inexcusable.

  3. Larry Stidd says:

    Mel, I have lived the nomads life for nearly thirty years now, after enlisting in te USNavy as a young man of 17. I cannot imagine the pain a mother feels not hearing from their children on holidays but I can tell you the pain is real for those of us that are forgotten members of the family. Never invited to family get togethers, missed on birthdays and never thought of during the holidays except for when we call home. In 29 years, no one has ever called me on one of those special holidays, always waiting for me to call home for the 5 minute call to wish them a Happy —– then it is to loud, to much going on, too many people to stay on the phone……

    Yes, I am sorry your mother ( and you) have to go through the insensitivity of the human race…. To your mother and you I especially wish a Merry Christmas!!!


  4. Wen Spencer says:

    When I was in college, my room mate called her mother daily. She was amazed that I rarely called my mother and the conversations were usually just two or three sentences long. Part of it was my mother never called anyone to “talk.” Perhaps it stemmed from the fact that for a long time we had a party line and it was rude to tie it up. Whatever the reason, we rarely called each other. The other day, though, my mother said to me “I’d like to hear from you more.” Since then I’ve made a effort to call once or twice a week. The conversations are peppered with “nothing is new here” which makes things awkward but it makes my mom happy to hear from me as she declines.

    • That’s what phone calls with my mom are like. They don’t last long (5-10 minutes usually) and there isn’t much news passed back and forth, but she appreciates hearing from the few family she has left. Good for you for stepping up in response to your mom’s request. Kindness is never regretted.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s