For my S.O. and I, holidays generally aren’t eventful. They’re better spent relaxing, eating, and calling family– parents in his case, and my grandfather in mine.
At first, I was worried when my grandfather didn’t answer the phone. We don’t talk as often as I’d like, he’s over 80, and it seems like virtually nobody else other than my cousin and I check up on him. We don’t live near him, either, which makes things particularly difficult– if something happened, what could we do?
My fears were unfounded, though. “I went out for a few hours,” he said. He sounded almost chagrined. “I had some Christmas cards for your mother and your brother that I didn’t get in the mail in time… I wanted to drop them off. Just in the mailbox, though. I didn’t want to run into them.”
I couldn’t rightly blame him.
“I tried calling, but neither of them answered… I left a voicemail, but–”
At that point, I had a little trouble keeping my acid tongue reined in. “Of course not. She wouldn’t bother answering unless she thought you had something to offer her.”
Inappropriate? Maybe. Unfair? Not really.
The rest of the conversation was pleasant enough. He’d heard from my cousin, who’s doing well. He was glad to hear from me. I was glad he sounded well and seemed to be alright. (Though he’s up there in years, he’s still relatively healthy and sharp as a tack.) We hung up on a good note.
Still, I hate knowing that he’s stuck living alone. Can you imagine that? Decades of caring for your family, then most of your kids move away, you lose your wife to cancer, and you end up alone anyway. It’s part of why I’m not terribly stoked by the idea of having children, myself. “But who’ll be there to take care of you when you get old?” I’ve been asked. Who’ll be there to take care of anyone? It seems like an unfair expectation to put on a kid, and there’s no guarantee that a parent-child relationship will last that long. What if you become estranged?
Sometimes I wish my grandfather would move closer to where I live. I realize it’s selfish, though– there’s no reason he should have to uproot himself from the state he’s lived in for his whole life. How would I help take care of him if he got sick, anyway? My own medical bills eat up crazy amounts of money, and I can barely take care of myself. I just hope I get enough stability to be able to visit him again.