On one occasion when my sister Lindy and I were visiting Mother in Indiana, she made plans to visit with one of her distant cousins. And by distant cousin, I mean the sort who was a fourth cousin by marriage three times removed, or something like that.
It was hard to keep track of the specifics of all the “cousins” and “kin” we had in this part of southern Indiana.
The morning of the visit, the three of us had run some errands. Upon our return, Mother’s Husband Number Three Tom informed us that the cousin had called and said
The bridge is out. Your visit will have to be scheduled for another time.
Lindy and I had had plenty of experience with people wanting to avoid our mother throughout our lives. But this cousin sounded like an amateur who clearly had no clue about the surprising force they were going up against. Mother announced defiantly
There is no bridge between here and there and we’re going!
As Lindy pulled up to the small white house where our third cousin twice removed or whatever lived, I said to my sister
There’s something about this cousin.
and then, as my sister turned off the car, I remembered what the “something” was.
Years before, these folks were the ones Mother and Tom had visited for a week when they took a vacation from their lives in California. During that visit, Mother had done nothing to help, and had inflicted her presence on their household, leaving a trail of cigarette ashes and empty glasses of sweet tea mixed with hard liquor throughout their abode.
She had spent the entire week making demands on the distant relatives, requesting exotic and unexpected ingredients for various dishes she never got around to actually making and expecting them to house, feed, entertain, and clean up after her.
These poor saps had made the mistake of agreeing to housing Mother and Tom for the week, and they seemed to remember it quite well as we approached for this visit.
When we got up to their porch, Mother’s greeting consisted of an announcement to her third cousin from a previous marriage or what the hell ever relation this poor woman was:
Tom can’t wait to come over here to fish with your husband Norman!
Without missing a beat, the cousin replied
Norman has no interest in anything.
As we all let that concept sink in for a moment, she added
I thought I told you the bridge was out.
My sister and I took that code for “What the hell are you doing here?” Lindy was very unhappy that I had not recalled Mother’s previous incident with this relative before we got there to help her prepare for the moment.
We went into the house and the people never even offered us a cold drink. It was obvious they could not wait for us to leave. The final straw for my sister and I came after Lindy admired a picture of Uncle Emery. The cousin offered to make a copy and then charged Lindy ten cents for the copy. It was obvious the Un-Welcome mat was out. But, never one to be deterred by obvious hints, Mother proceeded to again inflict her presence on them. We eventually escaped and never spoke of it again.