Vet Tech Girl phoned me this morning to tell me she was on her way back to our old home town. Her grandmother (my former mother-in-law) is not expected to live much longer and she wanted to see her while she was still conscious. It's been 18 months since her grandma was diagnosed with cancer and it's followed a pretty predictable path. My ex-husband has always been extra close to his mother and I'm pretty sure he's very upset and not dealing with this very well.
It was when Vet Tech Girl informed me that time was running out very quickly that I was reminded of a morbidly weird event that happened to me about 20 years ago.
I'm not being disrespectful here, because this really did happen.
My ex-husband's grandfather (on his paternal side) whom we called Gigi, was in his 80's had been experiencing declining health for about 2 years. Now, this isn't an uncommon thing, but the family always seemed to be somewhat hysterical about it. Gigi lived about 2 hours away from us, and Uncle Bob, who was a 'loud talker' and often said the wrong thing at the wrong time, lived next door to Gigi and Grandma, and kept us updated on Gigi's condition. It was Uncle Bob who one time, at the top of his lungs, announced to everyone (very erroneously I might add) that my ex suffered a speech impediment as a child. My ex never forgave him and I never heard the end of it.
It was understood that no one was to consider going away for vacations, long weekends, etc... because Gigi (who was usually out mowing the yard or planting a garden) might expire at any minute. I, for one, have never had any patience with people who get worked up in this way. My going on vacation is not going to cause someone to die, and even if I'm around when they do, am I going to bring them back to life?
Anyway it almost became a monthly event that Uncle Bob would call and announce that Gigi was at death's door, and everyone needed to get to the hospital NOW to say goodbye. I had three little ones at the time so I would stay home and my ex would drive down with his parents' to pay their last respects. This usually happened on the weekends and it would ruin my ex's golf plans.
They would get to the hospital in time to find Gigi enjoying his evening meal, or his breakfast, or being checked out of the hospital. After almost every 'at death's door' call, Gigi would replace a down spout, or a concrete slab in their sidewalk, and I grew weary of the whole thing.
So I really didn't worry too much the night the call came, that Gigi was in the hospital and not expected to make it. I was at work the next morning when Uncle Bob called my inlaw's and hysterically announced that Gigi had died during the night and everyone had to come NOW! My father-in-law immediately took off for the hospital, my ex volunteered to go home (we worked for the same company and we were allowed 3 paid bereavement days) to watch the kids while my mother-in-law (our babysitter) went to get her hair done.
I stayed at work.
The union called and asked where to send flowers and a bible.
I didn't know.
The secretary to our CEO called and asked where to send flowers.
I didn't know.
It was around one o'clock in the afternoon that I received a call, and I couldn't understand what the caller was saying.
It was my ex.
In a strangled voice it sounded like he said, 'He's not dead."
"Who's not dead?" I asked.
That's when everyone in the room looked up at me.
"Gigi, he's not dead!" He shouted.
"What the hell do you mean he's not dead?" I shouted back.
By then I had everyone in the room's attention.
Apparently my father-in-law had arrived at the hospital in time to find that, not only was his father not dead, he was being fed lunch.
Two days later when we were once more informed that Gigi was dead, I swore that I wouldn't believe it until I saw him in his casket.
He was and I did. But if he'd sat up and asked what was for lunch I wouldn't have been surprised.
The real kicker to this story was that my ex was hauled into his supervisor's office and given a demerit. This is because his missing a half day of work for the false alarm was an unexcused absence in the eyes of the corporation for whom we worked. And any employee receiving 5 demerits in one year would be fired.
"Imagine," I said to my ex, "If Gigi had 'died' four more times, you would have lost your job!"
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when he found someone else he liked better!