01
Jun
10

It’s Dick.

Sarah reluctantly took the phone from her mother, rose from the couch and left the room, “hello?” she involuntarily asked out of habit as she answered.

“Hello, Sarah, it’s your Uncle Dick.” Dick, yes, thought Sarah, uncle, not so much. Sarah and Dick had a complicated relationship, the only kind of relationship the entire Douglas family seemed to know. He had been her sole relative in the city when Sarah had moved there and over the years the two had cohabitated, that’s probably the best term, sharing houses and apartments whenever convenient but carefully avoiding spending any actual time together. As a result, Sarah always suspected that Dick knew way more about her personal life than she would care to have him, which left her feeling slightly insecure in his presence.

When Sarah and Phillip married, Dick’s suburban house had been the venue for a bridal shower, not as a result of any interest on the part of Dick to do so, but due to his belated wife’s favour of Sarah. Dick was also the only one of Sarah’s paternal aunts or uncles to attend. Then again, it’s difficult to miss a party at your own house. Dick had also helped Sarah move places several times and even introduced a career-changing job opportunity to her. While Sarah did appreciate all of these things, there was always something cold in the relationship, and as with her grandmother, Sarah didn’t quite get the impression that Dick did any of this because he cared, it was as if he did it out of obligation or an expectation of it being the thing to do.

“Yes, I know.” Dick’s voice was unmistakable, incredibly self-assured, chesty and just a touch pompous, even if Judy hadn’t told Sarah who had been calling, chances are Sarah would have known immediately. “How are you?” she felt obliged to add after a short and awkward pause.

“I’m fine. And you?” This was a phrase and intonation taken straight out of the Daisy Douglas handbook, and which all five children, Sarah’s father included, said without fail after being asked about their well-being.

“OK.” Sarah answered uncertainly. What does he want? She wondered, but chose wilfully to remain quiet just to see what Dick would say unprompted. Another uncomfortable silence ensued.

“How was the drive here?”

“Fine.”

“Not too long?”

“It went by quickly.”

“Well, it’s good you came.”

Good you came? What does that mean? Again Sarah was silent not thinking of something worthwhile to say, other than asking Dick what it was he wanted and so yet another pause broke the struggling conversation.

“Did you give any thought to doing the eulogy?” Dick finally asked.

“No, not really. I mean, I wasn’t really asked, so there wasn’t much to think about.” Sarah was beginning to stumble for words. She rolled her eyes out of frustration and continued to pace around her parents’ kitchen. Sarah thought she heard Dick scoff.

“Well, your grandmother would like you to do it.” Dick stated the fact in such a manner as if to suggest the mere statement alone should be enough reason to compel Sarah into so doing.

Sarah felt otherwise, but was neither oblivious nor immune to the pressure of doing what her grandmother wished. The thought of giving her grandfather’s eulogy was making Sarah’s stomach turn. What would I say? What could I say? Sarah was exasperated and increasingly desperate. “Why aren’t you doing it?” She weakly asked in an unintended whine. “I mean you are a far better speaker than I am. Surely you would do him more justice.”

“I suppose,” was his only answer.

“Don’t you think it would be better?” asked Sarah in a voice attempting something of innocence mixed with encouragement.

“We’ll see.”

“OK. Well, let me know.” Sarah stifled her optimism, but her hope still sounded through, distracting even herself until she heard the sound of dial tone through the receiver.

From the other room Sarah could hear her mother asking after the phone call, “so? What did he want?”

Walking back to the living room, phone still in hand, Sarah replied, “It was about the eulogy. Grandma wants me to do it.”

“And? Are you?”

“I certainly hope not,” Sarah sighed, “I’m trying to convince Dick’s ego that it would be better if he did it.”

Judy laughed, “That shouldn’t be too hard.”


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