Dispatch from a Pandemic

My piece published by Another Chicago Magazine, on the death of my Oma, and how I was unable to attend her funeral due to COVID-19. It’s free to read online, part of a collection of many people’s experiences during these strange times.

Oma Weather

The Dutch grandmother did not like to admit she had missed watching the weather forecast on television in the evening, because if she had missed watching the weather in the evening it was as a result of falling asleep, and she did not want to admit she had fallen asleep. And so, when asked about the weather by her granddaughters, if, indeed, she had missed watching it, she would say, ‘Sunny with some cloud and a chance of rain.’

Over the years, as her granddaughters grew up and moved away, each time a weather station forecasted sun and clouds and a chance of rain all in the same brief window, they would smile to themselves.

‘Oma weather,’ they would say, nodding their heads. ‘An excellent chance of Oma weather today.’

A Tale of Two Telephone Calls

Said the bride-to-be to her sister:

‘Mum wants me to have cake at the wedding, but I said, I hate cake! And she said you have to have cake at a wedding, and I said, I really hate cake. And she said, but what kind of cake would you have if you did have a cake, and I said I don’t want a cake, but if I had to have a cake I’d have a chocolate cake. And she said, you don’t have chocolate cake at a wedding, you have fruit cake. And I said I don’t want any cake! but she wasn’t listening so I’m probably going to end up with a fruit cake. God! I hate cake!’

Said the mother of the bride-to-be to her other daughter:

‘Your sister wants a chocolate cake at her wedding.’

Always Bring the Pants

He could only wear pants from his homeland; only Dutch pants moulded to his slim, tall frame. But he lived in Australia, so when his parents and sister visited they always brought at least three pairs with them. When he visited Holland, he purchased pants while there, too.

His sister wondered, if they stopped bringing pants would he visit Holland more often? So the next time his family flew over, they brought no pants.

But this only made him angry – how could they come all the way to Australia from Holland without bringing pants?

Offended by the anger, his family stopped visiting Australia, that way they had an excuse for the not-bringing of pants, and he had even more reason to visit them there.

Enraged by the lack of pants and the lack of visits to Australia, he stopped visiting Holland – stopped visiting places altogether – and instead sat at home, alone and pantless; while his family remained in Holland, not alone, wearing pants and with so many more styles to choose from.