You can hear it whipping around outside and the wind chimes are ringing like crazy. It almost sounds like we are in a big jug someone is blowing across the lip of and it makes me wonder whether that’s true, that the shape of the hills might make a noise when a strong enough wind comes over them.
My aunt wants us all to go to Illinois for my grandma’s birthday. I think that will be the weekend I go up to go to Watseka, so it’s not too bad for me. I don’t know if my brothers will be able to go. It depends on whether they’ve found work. I get afraid for them, when I think about how tenuous a grasp on respectable society they have. And I am afraid for me, being our only means of support, in a dying industry, with little I know how to do myself.
Oh, they’ll always need someone who can write! That’s what I tell myself. But the truth is that I’m not flexible. I have such daring friends and acquaintances who start new businesses and do new things and I do what I do because I’ve done it and because I need the health insurance and because, in a world full of shitty jobs, mine is nice and I like one thing in my life to be fairly certain.
Anyway, the thing about my grandma’s birthday and whether my brothers will be able to go to it is that my grandma is 92. This is the first time in my whole life I remember any kind of attempt at a whole family gathering, other than my grandpa’s funeral. And, of course, she’s 92, so, if we’re going to try to get together as a family, we’d better do it soon.
But it’s weird, too, like, let’s pretend to be what we wish we’d bothered to be at the last moment.
But it’s not even that. I think my aunt probably decided that families get together for the matriarch’s birthday. Not that my grandma is a matriarch, mind you. But my aunt has a feeling this is what people do and so she’s going to try to see if she can make it happen.
I hope she just checked with my grandma to make sure she wants everyone to get together, because, bless her heart, my grandma has become more plainspoken in her old age. If she’s tired and overwhelmed by everyone being there, she’ll have no qualms about making that clear.
But, bless her heart, it would not be surprising to learn my aunt was making these plans without consulting with my grandma.
I need to ask my mom whether Grandma actually wants to have a birthday party. I don’t know. It just seems strange. If she wanted a birthday party, you’d think she’d just throw one. She’s not the kind of woman who likes to have things planned for her. I think she perceives it as having things done to her.
I think she’ll be happy to see everyone. I just think she’s at a point in her life where it will be easier for her to manage it if she’s consulted and considered.
If we were going to be the kind of family who all surprised a woman on her birthday with everyone, we probably should have done that before now.