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Sudie Crouch: The guilt of family
Family
Photo by Kevin Delvecchio, Unsplash.com

“Y’all coming this weekend?” 

I sighed.  

Granny asked me this every week. 

“No,” I said.  

She grunted. “Why not?” 

“We can’t,” I replied.  

“Can’t, huh?” she grunted again. “Why can’t you?” 

“Just,” I paused. “Because.” 

The truth was, there always seemed to be things to do that made it difficult to find a weekend to make the trip.  

We had worked all week, Cole had school,  and just wanted to rest and try to relax over the weekend. We were tired.  

You couldn’t tell Granny about being tired. She knew and originated the concept of one-upping someone on whatever they were telling her. It didn’t matter what we had been through that week, Granny had had it worse long before.  

The drive is two hours one way and the traffic can be tedious. We’d stay just a couple of hours before we’d head out to make the two hour drive home. 

“You sure didn’t stay long,” she said as we started for the door.  

“Yeah,” I frowned. “We’ll stay a bit longer next time maybe.” 

“When’s that gonna be?”  

“I don’t know, Granny.” 

Her constant questioning of when and how soon made me feel bad. I wanted to visit more often, but it was hard to find the time, or at least it felt like it.  

 

The sad truth is, people will have things pulling them in so many directions. Work, things at home, things for fun, and obligations that they just don’t want to do. Sometimes, we just need to rest and not do anything, which is usually what we did.  

“Why does she ask me that every time she answers the phone?” I asked Mama when she finally got on the phone.  

“She just wants to see you,” she answered.  

“She asks me that every week though,” I said.  

“Yeah, well, she probably wants to see you every week,” Mama replied. “And she wants to know if you’re coming so she can have something ready. You know she’d want to cook for you or at least tell Bobby what to make.” 

“Mama, I know, but I wouldn’t want her to go to any trouble.” 

“It’s no trouble to her, especially if she makes Bobby do it. But she just wants to see y’all is all.” 

As time went on, I realized maybe that was her way of trying to say she wanted to see us more. Granny, for being very upfront and blunt like a hammer, was not the best at communicating the fact she wanted to see someone out of love. Her way of expressing it was far more abrasive, like sandpaper wearing you down until you relented.  

When she died, I missed her almost daily barrages of my upcoming visits. Mama took up the gauntlet, but didn’t ask as often as she admitted her concerns of us being on the road took priority.  

Not long after Granny had passed away, we had situations where we didn’t feel like it was possible for us to leave most of the time. Ava, our German shepherd, had so many health issues we couldn’t leave her for extended periods of time as she needed medicine. We went years without visiting regularly.  

At least until Mama and Bobby had the car accident last year, and then I found myself going twice a week to check on them and take care of things.  

Mama said when we’d leave, Bobby would ask her, “When do you think she’ll be back?” 

“Soon,” Mama would tell him. “She’ll be back soon, Bobby.”  

The Friday night before my uncle passed away, he asked me if I was coming that weekend. I had already been earlier that week, and had tried to get everything done that I could because I had my state boards that coming week.  

“Not this weekend,” I told him. “But next weekend I will.” 

“Oh. Okay,” he said. I could hear the disappointment in his voice. 

The last time I saw Granny before she passed, she was sitting at the door in her wheelchair watching us leave. I told her then, we’d see her soon and didn’t have an answer for when that’d be.  

If I had it to do all over again, I would have said, “Let’s stay just a little bit longer.” If I had known that would have been my last weekend to see my uncle, I would have said I had studied enough and gone to see him.  

But we can’t go back and change the past.  

We never regret the time we do get to spend with those we love, we only have the guilt that we didn’t spend enough.