Alone Time

“Gramma, come on. Next stop Zippy’s.”

Sometimes I can’t believe I’m still alive to hear this. Every year, the same thing. Mother’s Day, birthday, Easter. The big three. And the three days I care for maybe least.

“We waiting for you, Ma. Come downstairs. We gotta go.”

And every year there’s more of them, a bigger table, more booths. My sons are prolific. If Harry were still alive, I’m sure he’d be thrilled to see the clan growing like this. He was big on carrying on the family name. The more boys the better. But I quit at two. Thought that was enough. Two boys. Who knew there’d be so many more of us from just the two.

“I’m coming, everybody, I’m coming. I was built for comfort, not for speed.”

I, on the other hand, am not what I would call thrilled. What is it about celebrations with family? Why do people want so much to get together? Can’t anyone be happy with some getting apart?

“Hey, Gramma, you look great.”

My favorite granddaughter.

“Can sit next to you at Zippy’s?”

My favorite grandson. Just not too close.

“Ma, you wanna see a movie after?”

Oy, my least favorite daughter-in-law, that Janet. Called me Ma from the beginning. Who told her she could do that? She never even asked. Just assumed.

“Mom, let’s hit the road. We’re late.”

I love both my sons the same. Equal love for each child is possible. But Bobby is a terrible driver, so I wish Eddie had picked me up.

“You’re in the middle, Mom. Ginny’s on your lap.”

God, I do not like sitting crammed between people in the car. It makes me carsick sometimes. At least Zippy’s isn’t too far.

“Everybody set?”

Kevin is kicking my shin. I’d give him a little elbow if he wasn’t such a crybaby. And Marie drools more than anybody I never knew. She’s almost four. How can you still be a drooler? And if the police saw us. Ginny sitting on my lap. Geez.

“Okay, everybody out.”

Oh boy, there’s Eddie and the gang. He and Sue have enough there for a basketball team. If Ellen doesn’t know all about the quiet, she’ll find out.

“Okay, guys, quit swarming Gramma. Let’s all go inside.”

A lei; that is nice. I’m exhausted already, and we haven’t even ordered. I’m so boxed in here I hope I don’t throw up. I can’t handle crowds very well. Even if all of them are family.

“Aren’t you glad we all here for you, Grams? Shows you how much we love you, yeah? You look so pretty. Like an old fashion model.”

“Elson! Apologize to Gramma for that. Don’t call her old. She’s not old.”

Oh yes I am old, Janet. Surprise. That’s Elton. He’s kind of slippery. Not like Marie with the saliva, but like an eel. He’ll probably go into politics.

“Okay, everybody, let’s have Gramma say something. Ma?”

Say something? Eddie, my dear son, you have just slipped a notch on the love list.

“Yes, Mom, please give us a little speech. You don’t turn 75 every day.”

Bobby boy, for that you just dropped a notch, too.

“Well, I just want to say to all of you how much I love you, and how much I appreciate you always thinking of me like this.”

I know I do mean that, but truthfully, I can hardly wait to get back home. A new episode of Only Murders in the Building has dropped.

“Why if it weren’t for all of you, I would be alone on my birthday, and nobody likes to be lonely on a birthday. So thank you all very much.”

Just me in my Lay-Z-Boy, feet up, glass of wine, Steve Martin. Now that’s the way to celebrate a birthday.

“We got you a cake, Grams, and we all going sing happy birthday to you after.”

I’ve never been able to bring myself to tell them I don’t like cake. They like cake. So we have cake. I miss the good old days. The really good old days of being single. That far back. Ah, of course, I miss Harry. But once the kids came, well, that was the end of the quiet and the alone time. And the kids keep on coming.

“Oh my, I can hardly wait for that cake, you all. No doubt I have the greatest family in the world. All of you are wonderful. Oh Miss, could I please get a glass of white wine.”

Who decided that being alone wasn’t good for you? Don’t be alone on your birthday, on holidays. Whoever they were, they didn’t know anything about real life. Hallmark moments. Some folks need them. But what most people should know is that there are people who have to be alone sometimes. Otherwise, they’d go crazy. At least I would.

“Here your white wine, Ma’am. Is everyone ready to order?”

Sometimes it seems like these get-togethers will never end. But, of course, one day they will. You don’t turn 75 every day. And you never know if you won’t turn 76.

“Everybody, raise your glasses. Mom, here’s to the greatest mother and grandmother ever.”

I see them, all of them, and I know, of course, I’ll miss them. Or is that possible? I have absolutely no idea what on earth happens after the end. Well, at least, I suppose, they’ll miss me. That’s some comfort.

“Gramma, don’t ever die, okay?”

“Junior, don’t you say things like that. Don’t talk about people dying. It’s not polite. Sorry, Mom.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, Bobby. It’s no problem.”

Don’t ever die. Well, with my feet up, a glass of wine, and a good TV show, that’s the way to go. I wonder if I’ll die alone? Is that a good time to be alone? With no one to watch me when I go.

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