The emotions surrounding my inability to write about my Crazie Aunt Kathleen aren’t quite clear to me. Composing stories about her big brother (my father) has been easier, perhaps because he prided himself on his uniqueness. Often times Dad knew his choice of actions or words would appear odd, but took that path anyway.
On the other hand, Aunt Kathleen doesn’t seem to recognize the peculiar things she does as…well…peculiar. I guess what I saying is, I have a harder time laughing behind her back than I do the rest of my family.
I mean, who am I to judge that it would be Crazie to ask your niece to stop her car on the side of a busy highway and get out to pick up a shoe that’s lying in the ditch because “You never know when someone in the family might break their leg and they’d need just one shoe.” And, in as much as I’m not judging, I didn’t point out that they’d have to break their left leg, and they’d have to wear a size 13 shoe.
Or who’s to say that it isn’t important on your way home from the hospital after an extensive stay in ICU to ask your niece to stop at the dollar store so you can buy ten bottles of lilac scented hand lotion to add to your vast collection at home?
This week she called to say the dentist told her she’d need to have all her teeth pulled and dentures made. The cost would be approximately $5,000.
“So, of course,” she said. “I called around to see who could do it cheaper.”
“Okayyyy,” I said, knowing the conversation was going to take a bizarre turn but not sure where that would be.
“There’s a place that advertises in the paper. They’ll pull my teeth for $85 and make the dentures for $500. What do you think?”
“I…well…” I stuttered. “I don’t even know where to start with my questions.”
“I know, it’s great, right?”
I’ll pause here to mention that Aunt Kathleen is not in the best of health. She’s extremely obese, uses an oxygen tank and, because her joints no longer support her, she maneuvers around as slow as a snail with a walker.
“I’m not sure ‘great’ is the word I would have used,” I said and switching to my best adult-speaking-to-a-child voice I asked, “Don’t you think it’s a little odd that one place wants $5,000 and one place wants $85? That doesn’t seem right to me.”
“Exactly what I thought. That dentist is ripping me off.”
I rubbed my forehead – a habit formed over years of trying to make sense of zany conversations with my family – and asked, “So the problem is the money?”
“Oh, I have enough. That’s not the problem.”
“Then, what is?” I asked.
“Well, I’m afraid it will be a waste of money.”
“I mean, what if I pay the $5,000 for the surgery and new teeth, and then I die next year?”
I am sorry to report that laughing behind her back was not the issue. I laughed so long and so hard that she hung up on me.