I had plans this morning to meet my friends for brunch and some time at the botanical gardens, and given timing, I told my parents that I would meet them at the Neptune Columbarium, where Ed’s niche is. I said I would leave the Golden Gate Park area at around 2 to meet them. Somehow, despite telling both of them this twice, they both “heard” me say that I would meet them at the Columbarium at 2pm. My mom called at 2pm as I was waiting for an Uber to pick me up, and she was panicking as she always days, asking me where I am and why I am not there. I repeated again what I originally said, and I can hear both her and my dad in the background claiming that I never said that, that I said I would meet them at 2pm. I told them that they both didn’t hear me correctly and that I was on my way.
Then, as I spent time at Ed’s niche, they both left me alone and wandered around, getting their free coffees from the front office as they always do, and sitting in their car. It’s a great way to bond with your dead son, making sure you are always getting free refreshments from the place that you spent tens of thousands of dollars on his niche at.
I got back into the car, and they immediately started arguing over where to eat for dinner. I told them that I didn’t mind, that they could choose; it wasn’t a big deal to me. My mom gave me an icy tone, saying she wants to “show respect” to me and have me choose. That’s her not-so-thinly-veiled way of saying that I should choose and “care.” I truly do not have a preference, so I said she could choose since she ate at these places more. Then randomly, my mom started marveling over the visit they had with us to the Salesforce Tower roof yesterday with Chris, and she said she really enjoyed the oat milk latte we ordered for her. Dad said out of nowhere that the free latte was tasteless and bland, and he had no idea how anyone could drink something like that. I told him he rarely drinks lattes and doesn’t know what they are supposed to taste like, plus he probably just had the oat foam. In his usual childish and defensive tone, he said I was wrong. Then, he continued to talk to himself and repeat the word “tasteless” about 10 times on our ride home.
Even after we got home, I could still hear him muttering “tasteless” over and over. This is after he not only had a free and beautiful visit at the tallest building in San Francisco to get a 360-degree view of the city, but he also got free coffee and food there, plus a gondola ride and a walk through the Salesforce Park with me, which he got annoyed about within ten minutes of walking around and said he wanted to leave.
I’ve read so many books and articles about mourning, about parent-child relationships, about death. One of the topics that seems to come up repeatedly is that once someone is dead, you start realizing that you end up missing all the things they used to do that would annoy the hell out of you and increase your blood pressure when they were living. For Ed, this could mean asking me really basic questions that I felt given his age, he should be aware of, or asking me the same question three times over the course of 30 minutes. In my parents’ case, it could mean… hey, one day, when my dad isn’t here anymore, I might actually miss how childish he is and how much mothering he needs. I could end up missing how he needs to ask you the same question three times in three different ways in an hour just because he probably wasn’t listening to your answer the first or second time when he asked. I could possibly end up longing for how ungrateful he is for experiences that I expose him to and how little appreciation he has of pretty everything in the world, whether it’s a beautiful view or a free coffee drink (that someone else is ultimately paying for, one way or another). For my mom, I will probably end up missing how she panics over my safety every second of the day, how she insists on packing me oranges or kiwis in my luggage even though I could easily buy these same fruits in New York, how she is overly critical of me and pretty much every human being on earth.
So when I get annoyed, I have to step back for a second and say to myself, maybe I should be grateful they are pissing me off right now and showing a complete lack of gratitude for how kind and generous Chris and I have been with them. Maybe I should be thankful that they are sitting here, able to complain and criticize everyone. Maybe I should be grateful because of the fact that they are actually still alive, and not everyone is as lucky as I am to have one or both parents still alive.