I am so pissed at my family right now. I went to the cafe to play some pool and hang out a bit before leaving for New Orleans on my mission of mercy. I had every intention of relaxing, doing the CryptoQuote and crossword puzzle and enjoying a cup o' joe. That was the plan and, for the most part, it went off without a hitch.

Well, except for one hitch.

A friend of mine, who is dating a friend of my family, sat down to chat with me. We chatted about her boyfriend's brother's quirkiness and why she isn't getting married to Noah yet. It was idle chatter. Then she says, "You know, I'm surprised you're so calm, Jay, what with all that's been going on lately."

I just stared at her blankly, totally unsure of what she was talking about.

"Uhm..." she said uncertainly. "Your mom is Andi Seals, right?"

"Ye-es..." I hedged. Last time I checked, that was her name. "Why? Is something wrong with her?" I asked not out of concern, but more out of curiosity. If something serious had happened, they would have called me, so I simply suspected that my friend was just sharing the family gossip with me.

"Oh, my," she said, somewhat embarrassed. "Oh, dear. You don't know, do you?"

"Know what?"

She sat down heavily. "Jay, your mom had a stroke Sunday. She was celebrating her fiftieth birthday with some friends-" (this much I had expected, as I knew her birthday was in December) "- it was a sleepover kinda thing. Well, the next morning, Sunday morning, she woke up feeling out of sorts. Like, groggy and sluggish and she couldn't speak very well. Her friends called the doctor, the doctor told them to give her some asprin and then they took her to the hospital. Apparently, it wasn't a severe stroke, but it was a stroke, a small one. She felt fine a few hours later, ready to go home, but they decided to keep her under observation for a few days."

I just sat there, stunned beyond words. There are right times and wrong times to fill me in on family news. When my little brother gets a good grade in school, when my dad finishes making a new fly rod, when my nephew takes his first step- these are idle things that aren't necessary to bother me with. They're good things, to be sure, but not vital to the family unit. When, oh I don't know, my step-mother has a stroke, even a small one, that's the right time to fill me in.

I'm a loner and I'm fairly independent, but I'm not that alone or independent. These are the kinds of things family members should be made aware of. Last time I checked, I still bore the family's surname, I was still a part of that family. Unless I'd been voted out in the last month, I fully expect to be apprised of these kinds of events.

"I'm so sorry, Jay," my friend said. "I feel like such a piece of shit. God, I'm so embarrassed."

"Don't be," I told her. "This isn't your fault. It's theirs, for not telling me a word of it. Thank you for sharing this with me." I wasn't harsh with her. I don't kill the messenger, and how was she to know that I hadn't been told? No, she is utterly without blame in this.

My family, on the other hand, will be hearing some strong words from me when I get back from New Orleans. This is not acceptable.