Understanding Granny on the road

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Wendy and her grandmotherWendy and her grandmother

Communication is sometimes difficult from the road. Being away from home as much as we are completely confuses some of the older members of our family. My grandmother, who’s in her 80s, has a very difficult time understanding why her nurse granddaughter is traveling around the country like a vagabond in a big rig. She has either completely forgotten that I told her I write stories for a living now, or she’s so embarrassed about it she refuses to acknowledge it. Phone conversations with her can be a bit tedious, as she can’t hear well and thinks taking her hearing aid out while on the phone is a good idea, but I try to keep in touch with her as much as I can stand screaming into the phone.

The last conversation I had with my Gran went like this: (She called me. Or at least I think she called me, she’s not really sure who she called, but it ended up being me.)

Me: “Hey Gran!”

Gran: “How do you always know it’s me when I call?”

Me: “I have caller…”

G: “Where is your mother?”

Me: “I think she’s at…”

G: “Don’t tell me she’s at work. She’s not answering her phone.”

Me: “I don’t know, Gran. Maybe…”

G: “Nanci, I want you to give me a phone number for where your mother is. She doesn’t want to tell me, but if something happens, I need to be able to get in touch with her.”

(Nanci is my Aunt, who is also a nurse, so I get called Nanci a lot.)

Me: “This is Wendy.”

Gran: “Susan?! I swear you sound just like Wendy on the phone. You all confuse me passing these cellphones around.”

(Susan is my mother and I have no idea why my Gran thinks we all share a cellphone.)

Me: “Gran. This is Wendy. Mom has a cellphone number that never changes, no matter where she is. You have it programmed into your phone.”

G: “Wendy?! Why don’t you all ever tell me when you’re together? And why can’t you just give me the name of the hotel you’re at?”

(The only thing I can determine from this statement is that she has it in her mind I travel a lot, and she thinks I stay in hotels, and have brought my Mom and Aunt along.)

Me: “Gran, we’re on the road in the big truck. I’m with George. Mom and Nanci are at home. No one is in a hotel anywhere. You can get in touch with us on our cellphones, no matter where we are.”

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G: “I’m not going to argue with you anymore, you all go galavanting around anywhere you want to. But if I have to go in the hospital for my foot, I better be able to find you, Nanci.”

(I’m back to being Nanci.)

Me: “What’s wrong with your foot?”

G: “Well my Lord, you work for Doctor Walker, don’t you know?”

(My Aunt Nanci works for Doctor Walker. I forgot I was Nanci for a minute.)

Me: “Gran. This is Wendy.”

G: “I’m going to let you go. I know you only have a certain amount of long distance minutes, I don’t want to cost you anything.”

Me: “Gran. I have unlimited minutes. Tell me what’s wrong with your foot.”

G: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I know it costs money to talk long distance. I’ve gotta walk my dog. Tell your mother to call me.”

(OK, let’s dissect this statement, based on the information we’ve gathered. I don’t know if she doesn’t know what I’m talking about as far as her foot goes, or the unlimited minutes. It hasn’t cost money to talk long distance since about 1995. And how the hell is she walking the dog with a messed-up foot? Also, who is she talking about when she says, “Tell your mother to call me”? Herself? Susan? I have no idea.)

Me: “Gran, we’ll be in Georgia in a couple of days. I’ll stop by and see you.”

G: “Are you all on vacation?”

Me: “No Gran, we’re working. We’ll have about enough time to take you to dinner and then we have to leave.”

G: “What hospital are you working at? Coliseum? When did you quit working for Dr. Walker? I swan, I can’t keep up with you all.”

(At this point I’m ripping my hair out and trying not to burst into tears of frustration.)

Me: “Gran, I’m out of minutes. I’ll call you when we get to town.”

G: “OK honey. Tell your mother to call me.”

(Again, I have no idea who she’s talking about, because I don’t know who she thinks I am at the moment. I hang up and thank God my Gran has Life Alert, although I wonder if she’d remember to use it if she had an emergency. Being on the road is hard for everyone in the family, even those who don’t really know why you’re on the road.)