Last night, I got a text message from my cousin I haven't seen in years. The one who got hurt in that Katrina cleanup accident and lived to tell about it. We exchanged a couple of messages, then I called him at the number I hadn't had before. (Yea, I could have worked harder to get it. ) I said, "I can talk a lot faster than I can type with my thumbs." He'd first sent the text when he had a bad calling signal. Now he was driving.
We caught up on the basic events of the last months and laughed a lot. It was good. He's visiting the town where Granddaddy and my brother still live. A town we're both happy to visit for all the love and memories there - and the people who remain - but where neither of us would want to live. One of the things we actually have in common. I was so glad to hear from him.
Then he got to our Granddaddy's house, and gave him the phone. At which time I declared the question: "Do I have to make an appointment to talk to you?!" His response, "What are you talking about? I answer the phone when I'm here!" That, of course, didn't mesh with the word-of-mouth story I heard last May. Turns out my Granddaddy still has a pretty active social life. Lately I haven't had much success at reaching him. So thanks to my cousin I got two for one and Granddaddy and I talked for a nice long time.
Near the end of our conversation I said, "Before R leaves town on Friday, he needs to go buy you an answering machine." Granddaddy responded, "I don't like answering machines." I, of course, didn't really listen. "But we need to be able to find you." He wasn't having that, either. "Somebody needs to find me, they'll drive over here and tell me. You can call somebody else. They know where to look for me." "But Granddaddy, some of us live 600 miles away! It's good for us to be able to leave you a message." Then my father's father did something he rarely does with me. He raised his voice. "I Don't Want No Answering Machine!!!!" And I, insultingly, disrespectfully, thought he was...cute. I know that in many ways this is the worst show of ageism. It's also just a reflection of the great relationship I have with this amazing man. We have a way of bantering and bickering, at times, that makes it a little all right.
But it's not really all right. Mostly I just wanted what I wanted and didn't care about his opinion. And I'm ashamed of this, this morning. In my head I had it all worked out. (Not considering that it doesn't really matter whether we sent him a crate of answering machines. There wouldn't be a soul savvy enough to make him even think about using one!)
I - still pushing blindly forward - asked him to put my cousin on the phone. He called up the stairs, and got the message back, "Tell her I'll call her later." Still hell-bent on delivering my little message to buy our grandfather an answering machine, I went to bed planning to tell him this the next time we talk, that he should go pick up a machine for Granddaddy.
But now I'm awake, all fresh for a new day, remembering the talks from last night. Happy. And it hit me. Granddaddy Doesn't Want An Answering Machine. Who do I think I am to thrust my technology upon him? Never mind it would give me a little peace of mind. Never mind leaving messages is a convenience I've come to rely on. Never mind...I should call him more often than I do and maybe if he had one, a part of me would feel somehow I've done more to keep up with him when really I haven't called nearly enough.
This wasn't my finest moment. A moment that deserves the trendy response this 88 year old would never think to say to me: "It's not about you, Melody." It just took me a while.
I swear sometimes I'm so stubborn. Of course, I wonder where I got that trait...