November 24, 2018
I run late. About 15 minutes. My daughters do too. My son, well, he’s either early or late. But not being on time is what our family expects from the others.
I blame the tardiness gene.
My maternal grandmother Nana started this off. During our summer visits to her home in Michigan, my mother would get furious when it was time for us to drive to Nana’s lake cottage because Nana wasn’t ready. For hours, until Nana finally would head to the cottage and drive “like a bat out of hell,” as my mother would exclaim, as our Chevy tried to keep up with Nana’s speeding car ahead.
Mother may have been a bit self-righteous about Nana’s tardiness, because Mom, too, was late. Not just a wee bit. At our family home in Dallas there was always a frenzy before we were supposed to go somewhere. Either Mom suddenly had to mail a bill, do the dishes, find her purse — oh, the purse! — there was always some major drama before we could leave.
I suspect this drove my father, a military man, nuts, but I don’t recall him saying so. Maybe that’s because Dad drank. (Now that he’s gone, I say this with a chuckle, however...)
Late? You’re in the Balcony
As a family, we were late for school, late for musicals at Fair Park, and always late for church. We drove across town to a Highland Park church because our neighborhood Episcopal church held “high” services that Mom thought were too “Catholic.”
Because we always arrived late, the ushers wouldn’t seat us downstairs. So, we went to the horrid balcony, where the cramped pews and rails did not have comfy cushions. And, of course, communion was downstairs. So, while the downstairs people enjoyed a nice, long walk to communion, we upstairs people knelt for an interminable time, until we got the call to go downstairs.
This frenetic descending in high heels was not what you would call a spiritual communion with God. And, by the time we had our wafer and wine, then stomped back upstairs, the downstairs people were finishing the post-communion hymn.
It’s Nana’s and Mom’s Fault
Clearly, the tardiness on my Nana's and mother’s part has transcended genetically to me. My husband, a military man, is always a half-hour early, which drives me nuts, as I am still putting on my clothes while he’s backing out the car.
I wonder if a late gene on my chromosomal string could be altered by injecting it with stems cells from a person who was always on time. What an idea. Got a flaw? Simply go in for stem-cell therapy. Receive life-altering genes from successful, happy, on-time people. Results guaranteed.
If that is in the future, I’ll be the first in line. But for now, I will simply try, as I always do, to suppress Nana's and Mother’s tardiness genes. My being late is THEIR fault, isn’t it? Woe is me.
But then, I remember how Nana made wonderful breakfasts with buttery eggs and lots of bacon, and she kept a lake cottage that we Texas girls and our Michigan cousins loved each summer. As for my Mom, she worked hard to provide a good life for her daughters and grandchildren. She did so much; the woman literally gave herself to us.
And so, whenever I find myself blaming, I also remember that people who run late might be some of the finest people I've ever met. In spite of my tardiness gene, I hope my daughters will feel the same about me. And, perhaps someday they’ll get a magical injection to overcome what is clearly an inherited trait.
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