Dinner Without

I get a call from my Aunt Patty.  She says she’s been thinking about me a lot lately, she wants to know how I’ve been, and wants to know when we can see each other.

We set a date and I drive down from Somerset to their Beachwood house for dinner.  My aunt and uncle have lived there my entire life.  As I pull into their driveway, I remember spending summer weekends in their backyard with my brother when we were kids.  We took turns pulling each other around in a red wagon, running through the garden sprinkler, and hiding from their crazy, deaf, long-haired white cat named Nova.

My uncle doesn’t eat with us at the table.  He was diagnosed with cancer years ago and his chemo has had him on a liquid diet for the past couple of years.  Aunt Patty cooks a steak for the two of us on the grill outside on the porch and after we catch up, the conversation turns towards my mom.

I load up my fork with peas on the individual prongs.

My Aunt Patty, recalling a conversation she had with my mother, “I said,’Hey Sue, why don’t you talk to your daughter?’ That’s what we always ask her.  She never gives a straight answer.”

“Yeah,” I say, unsure of what exactly to say and trying to remain from cracking my warm exterior.  “She won’t return my calls or texts.  You told me a while ago she said she did her part in raising me- that she was done?”

“You know, Case. It’s messed up. It really is. If you were my daughter, you wouldn’t be left alone for a minute. I’d call you every day just to see what you were doing.”

I nodded my head in agreement, “Yeah, I know.”  What else was there I could say?  Mom said she’s done with me.

After dinner, I sat with Uncle Eddie in the living room and watched some t.v. before heading home.  “Uncle Eddie?” I pause.  “Do you have any- do you have any idea why she won’t talk to me?”

“Honestly,” he says, “I think she’s jealous of you.”

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