That’s what my sister told me once. It’s true. Honestly, no one would ever think to make up the kind of “adventures” my family has. Possibly because we have a wide and varying range of craziness in the gene pool. On the plus side, it is usually not boring around the extended family. On the minus, the random chaos caused by the craziness can drive you even more nuts! So yeah, I’ve been kinda busy lately.
But first up–a party!
Friday night I went back to my hometown for my class reunion, which was tons of fun. A classmate had arranged a float for us in the Homecoming parade, and then we went to the football game. The crowds were huge, our team won, and lots of fun was had by all. The parade has grown considerably since my time; apparently it is a major community event now. None of my closest high school friends came, but I knew everyone there and got to know some of them better. And apparently I’m related to one of the former football players–we share the same great-great-great-grandfather. Yep, it’s small town America, and Friday night football is the place to be! The band was really good too, considering it’s even smaller than when I marched in it, but they are still winning awards. Go band geeks!
Now the plan was to drive in on Friday, check in to the hotel, and then head over to help set up for the parade. The game was directly after the parade and after it I would go back to the hotel for the night. Saturday morning we had a tour of the high school set up, followed by a catered BBQ lunch at noon. This would end the scheduled festivities, although after arriving in town I heard rumors of a casual Saturday evening get together at a restaurant in town. After that I planned to swing by and check on my 96-year-old cousin and his wife, and also on my aunt who fell and broke her hip recently and is in a nursing home/rehab center. After that I would zip back on the interstate and be home sometime Saturday evening. You know what they say about plans, don’t you? We make plans and God laughs. Well, He must have been ROFL last Saturday. Alright, it gets a bit long after this, so if you don’t want to hang in there, I understand. Believe me, I understand.
Now a bit of backstory here. I moved away after high school to another state. My dad’s health is getting worse, so they moved to be near me a few years ago. But I still have family in the area–namely the aforementioned aunt, three or more of my first cousins, and a whole slew of seconds, thirds, fourths, twice-removeds, by marriage, etc. Yeah, a LOT of kinfolk. But for this whackadoodle day, we are focusing mainly on my aunt. We will call her Aunt N., and she is a hoot–equal parts free spirit, black sheep, and drama queen (so about 50% terrific fun, and 50% drive you up a wall annoying).
So Friday is fantastic. The drive is beautiful, and the parade and game are so much fun. (Well, except when I get chewed out by a classmate’s mother for wasting money at a hotel instead of staying with them. Kinda felt like I was 16 again, getting in trouble with an adult. Late edit: Apparently another couple is mad at my parents because I didn’t stay with them. <snicker>) So then it’s back to the hotel for a decent night’s sleep. Saturday morning my phone rings–it’s my father. After relaying a bunch of information, he hangs up. I stand there staring at the phone and at what I’ve written down, and I slowly realize–we’ve lost Aunt N.
And, since I’m the one with boots on the ground in the area, I have to go find her. Yes, apparently my aunt with the broken hip has been mislaid. Dad tried calling her several times that morning, then he called her son whose voice mail doesn’t work, and finally he called the nursing center’s office. Where he was told that she was not registered as a patient, but they wouldn’t tell him where she’d gone. He tried calling her apartment, in case she’d been discharged. No answer. So then he calls me, because he KNOWS I’m in the area, and gives me phone numbers and addresses for two of my cousins. <sigh> So it begins.
First decision–I will worry about this after the reunion, because I intend to have fun! But just in case, I do ask the classmate with the annoyed mom if her parents really would let me stay at their house that night. But I still think this is solvable with a few phone calls. It’s even possible that Dad miscommunicated with the receptionist, and my aunt is still where she’s supposed to be. I mean, she has a broken hip. She can’t just take off for parts unknown, can she? Okay, well, it’s Aunt N., maybe she can.
Well, Saturday’s events were tremendously fun, the school has had some impressive upgrades, and the BBQ was delicious. So I take my leave after we cleanup, and start working my afternoon to-dos. First up, since it’s close, is I want to go by the florist and get some flowers for my grandma’s grave. Except I find out, driving up and down the main road, the florist has closed. Okay, flowers to the back burner as I’ve just passed my one cousin’s apartment building. So I pull up into the parking lot of the local restaurant and start making phone calls. First I call a younger cousin, because Dad gave me two phone numbers for her and I know she checks on my aunt a lot. The first phone number I call has no voice mail. The second has a voice mail message in a man’s voice. I sincerely hope that was her husband’s phone, otherwise someone out there is very confused and deeply concerned about the mental health of these strangers who have lost a relative.
Next I try the other cousin I have a phone number for. Lo and behold, she answers the phone!!! I tell her I’m in town and can stop in for a quick visit. Sadly, she is out of town at a training course for work so I ask if she knows where Aunt N. is. “At the nursing home.” she says. Nope, and I explain what Dad had found out. “Well, she was there last week.” We discuss possibilities, and I ask for the son’s number. She doesn’t have it–it’s back at her apartment. So I promise to call once I find something out. But she wins with the quote of the day–“Well, good grief, for a disabled lady she is sure hard to keep a hold of.”
Now the nursing center is all the way on the far side of the larger town that my little bitty town sits outside of. In fact, it’s on the other side of the river. So even though it’s now 3:00 p.m., I decide before I drive all the way there, I will swing by the 96-year-old cousin to check on him. When I get there, the garage door is up and I discover he is MOWING THE LAWN. WITH A PUSH MOWER. I wish I had his genes. After he recovers from the startle I gave him by turning up in his driveway, we sit down for a nice visit. By 4:00 p.m. I manage to finally excuse myself and get on the road to the nursing center. Dragging information out of the management seems more likely than trying my aunt’s apartment.
So I find the nursing center, and walk into the lobby. There is a sign-in desk with a receptionist. I ask for my aunt. She checks. “We have no one by that name.” Well, could you tell me where she went? “We have no records on that name.” Round and round we are going, when I glance at the sign-in sheet. “AHA!” I shriek, “She has to be here!” “Well, she’s not. Why do you say that?” BECAUSE HER SON IS HERE. The last name on the sign-in sheet, with a time stamp not three minutes before, is my cousin G. MY AUNT’S SON. My aunt has to be here–why else would G. be here? Finally the receptionist tells me to ask at the nursing station and she will call a manager.
So I go into the main area and head toward the nursing station. Then I spot a man sitting on a bench, talking on his cell phone. It’s my sweet baby cousin G, except he’s now in his thirties. He looks up and I wave, whereupon he nearly has a heart attack when he recognizes me. Here’s how his phone convo then goes. “Hang on, it’s Rita” “Yes, Rita” “Yes” “Yes, that Rita” “Yes, THE Rita” “Yes, our Rita, my cousin” “Really” “I don’t know!”
To me: “Why are you here?” “I’m looking for your mother” “She’s looking for you, Mom” AHA!!! We have contact!!!
Apparently, about 48 hours before, she had started feeling extremely sick and was sent to the hospital. Turns out she has the flu, which triggered a severe asthma attack. (She is recovering nicely.) So G. is at the nursing home to collect her belongings and we have a nice visit while they collect his mom’s stuff, and then I follow him to the hospital. G. has been going in circles trying to keep up with his mom, work, and the rest of his life, and just didn’t think to clue in the extended relations. So I call my parents to tell them the renegade has been located. Then I text my classmate for her parents’ number, as it’s now 6:00 p.m. and I AM NOT driving home at this point.
Then I get lost in the hospital–the corridors all look the same, okay?
Finally, I find Aunt N.! Who is sitting up and bed and looking mighty perky for someone with a broken hip, recovering from the flu. G. had to go home, so we said good-bye and I settled in for a nice visit with my aunt. She is thrilled to have an audience and gets us both laughing with her stories. She is obviously recovering, so I pry myself away so I can go get some dinner. But first I have to text my classmate for the name of the restaurant everyone is at, call her parents to confirm I have a bed and am not being a complete nuisance, and then call everyone else who needs to know my aunt’s whereabouts. Oh, and Legs in case he decides to come home, because I’d told him I’d be back on Saturday. So I got to hang out with my classmates some more, and then my friend’s mother sent me on my way the next morning with a cold bottle of water and a bag of snacks.
Who knew that talking on the phone for an entire afternoon could be so exhausting? And that a high school reunion could turn into a game of find the missing relative? Or that one could laugh so hard while trying to find said relative?
I learned a long time ago there’s no stopping the craziness gene; it’s much easier to just laugh and hang on for the ride!