The current Schlock Mercenary story elements that revolve around “breaking bad news” are a direct outgrowth of my own experience with this. In October of 1986 my father called me while I was at college to tell me my mother had been killed in a car accident. In August of 1988 my grandmother called me while I was working as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to tell me that my father had died from a heart attack.
I’ve ruminated a lot since then about how bad news is best broken. I chuckle about it. I sniffle about it. I write speculative fiction in which people do exactly the right, or exactly the wrong things, at least within the fictionalized constraints of the Universe I’ve conjured up for your entertainment. I’ve wondered how I would handle things if I needed to break bad news to someone, and suspect I’d do badly.
This evening my brother Bill called me to tell me that my grandmother passed away today. It was sudden, but not exactly unexpected. Yes, this is the magnificent lady I went to visit this summer, and whose life (I’m told by those in whose care she’s been) I saved by showing up and dragging Bill and Randy (randytayler) along with me. She’d been on the edge this fall, her hearing went out completely, and she was hospitalized recently in an effort to restore it. It worked, but they discovered she was dehydrated, so they kept her for observation, and that meant they got to observe her final minutes today. Apparently they were quiet ones.
Two things emerge from this tale:
- I’m really, really glad I saw her this summer. She got well enough to fly out to visit us in August, and got to sleep through one of my Sunday School lessons. She was well enough, barely, to see all the grandkids in the flesh one last time. For this I’m very, very thankful.
- There’s a pattern here I don’t like. Dad told me Mom died. Grandma told me Dad died. Bill told me Grandma died… I think this means that Bill is next.
Bill, if you’re reading this, you can break the curse! The Red Sox won, and Bush beat the Redskins’ prediction, and those were both THIS YEAR! Just don’t go doing anything dumb, like running red lights or eating that poisonous fish they serve in Japan. Don’t go to Japan! For that matter, don’t even get on an airplane!
p.s. If you’re an immediate member of the Tayler family, and you are finding out about Grandma Vernon’s death via my Live Journal, it’s Bill’s fault. He TRIED to reach you, but only got your answering machine. He figured “Hey, you know that ‘beeeeeep’ noise your answering machine makes? Grandma did that today, only longer” was not an appropriate use of the technology. Smart kid, that Billy. Pity about the Japanese fish, though.