Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Not a fun one. Might want to skip it.

I can't stop thinking about my grandmother and I don't want to write about it. I've tried, and I just don't want to put myself through the sorrow that wells up.
Which is a clear and obvious indication that I should, I guess.

I think about her now, in the spring when I'm out in the garden. That's how I remember her...rambling around in her yard, wearing a dress, with a handful of weeds. she waved at every other car that went past because she knew everyone, and they honked back or stopped to chat. Sometimes she'd give them a pail of apples, or pull up a few onions out of the garden and smack then against her leg to knock the dirt off before she handed them over.

She was my friend.

The short version is: she died a horrible, slow and undignified death, one she didn't earn. My father and her other two sons were responsible. When I spoke up about it I brought a world of shit down on myself...shit you can't even imagine putting a kid through.

Three people shared the expense of her care: a union foreman (who abused his kid), a gas company executive (who molested his daughter)and whatever the other one did (when he wasn't assfucking his sons). And they couldn't afford to put her in a nicer place? Bullshit. The place they put her in made the front page of the local paper! For health violations! It was one of the ten worst rest homes in the state!
As far as they were concerned, it didn't matter. It didn't count. She was old, she was sick, she was taking up space.
She was a woman.

My last living memory of her is standing next to her in the rest home while the adults chatted over her head, her far gone, in pain and on serious drugs. her shoulders and her hips were nothing but a series of open bedsores and the sheets were stained. I was pushed forward. She latched onto my arm so tight she left fingermarks, and she kept repeating 'I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home.'

She didn't know who I was. I couldn't pull away. Nobody was paying attention. Oh, they saw, but played it off as though they didn't because they wanted to chat, and meanwhile this ravaged insane thing that used to be my grandmother hung on to me like death and tried to drag me towards her, crying 'I want to go home, I want to go home' in a voice i didn't recognize.
You can't imagine the smell.
She had dried food on her face.
Her eyes were so dilated they were completely black.

Finally my father turned me loose and told me to go sit in the car. My parents were angry with me, of course, they were always angry with me. I was yelled at all the way home.

I loved my grandmother. I have never forgiven myself for recoiling in horror at what she'd become. And for not helping her. But Jesus Christ...I was 10 years old.


  1. I am so sorry, FN.

    My parents took out a second mortgage to take care of my grandma, while the other five of her kids never contributed anything, and thought that by stopping by on holidays was enough. They never even bothered asking.

    You shouldn't have to be the one worrying about how you've never been able to forgive yourself, but unfortunately you are, while those other fucking cunts sleep just fine at night.

    That's because you're a better person, and don't you forget it.

    The fairy tale I tell myself as the long cold hours go by at night is that everything becomes clear when you die, and because of that you know that your grandma doesn't blame you for anything. You're just feeling the accumulated guilt that your family should have felt, the fuckers. Hopefully one of these days in the not-too-far-off future you'll be able to let it go.

  2. you may not have been able to help at that time, FN, but you are helping now whether you realize it or not. you'll never treat someone like that and you'll do your best to make sure no one you know is subjected to that either.

    the lady who i considered to be my grandma was in a nursing home b/c her family sucked. my mom would go and see her often. i would go once or twice every couple of months. it hurt me inside to see her and not be able to make her the way she once was. thanks to my mom she was well taken care of. the one good thing about being a politician's wife, i guess.

    i grew up in hospitals. they were some of the best in the country, but i'm terrified of them.

    i promised my mom she'd never go into one no matter how bad she got. i think it makes her feel better.

    you're a good person whether you believe it or not.

    she's in a better place now watching over you. why do you think your garden's so pretty?

  3. Kristy10:16 PM

    You did help her--by loving her, and honoring her, and remembering her. I would say that some day she will thank you, but I suspect she's already been in contact with you and already has (at the risk of sounding new-agey and flakey). Hasn't she?

  4. I stopped by to say what Pink D. and Kristy have already said.
    Your expletives are still your shield, but there is care and love within.
    And, jeepers, what a lot of guts for writing it!

  5. FN , I have never been one to skip the not fun things in life , its what gives your life depth and colour.
    A ten year old child , could not do anything in this situation , so you kinda have to let go of the guilt on this one.The others are right you are honouring your gran by remembering her and the situation for what it was , and remembering the person you loved.
    I like to have a clear view of my loved ones and friends and still love the buggers (if I can ) despite their failings , and I have to say people on the whole are self serving , self deluding and selfish , its wether they have other good qualities that balance this out.
    If they dont (and this lot sound like they dont) and unfortunatley held the power in this situation , there is bugger all you could have done about it.

    Make sure you give the good memories of your gran equal airing , and I wanta hear them as well :-)

  6. What a terrible memory to have - memories are so fragmented from being so little that it is horrible you have this one so strongly. I guess you have loads of good memories as well? Those adults seem like pure poison.

  7. you were 10 - a child - you can't beat yourself up because you weren't an adult at the time and able to intervene, your 'parents' were poison but their neglect was not your fault. Please don't hold that little child that was you responsible - she had enough to bear. XX

  8. Stop beating yourself up about this, there is no dignity in death - you couldn't have done anything. It is a shame that the last memories we have of loved ones is on their death beds. It's important how we remember, cause good memories are food for the soul. Try to think what your Grandma would say to you - she wouldn't be happy to see you down.

  9. i know what you mean little love. that is so awful. the cruelness od disease is enough, aside from having to endure the rest. she can see you smile at her now. she knows you were only young then. she is pushing up the onions in your garden for you and making the flowers smile at you. she is part of you. rest back on the warmth of that

  10. i wish i had something further to contribute, but i can only echo the sentiments already expressed here, that as a child you couldn't have done anything to change things, especially when the adults in your life were a hinderance rather than a help. let go of the guilt. and PinkD is right; you're a much better person that the ratshit that raised you, and you do so much good in this world with your family and especially the Playboy. You've nothing to feel guilty for. You've risen above your experiences and turned them into motivation for compassion and goodness, rather than become bitter and repeat the sins of your family. You broke the chain. Well done.

  11. Until recently, I had had no tragedy in my life. Now that I have, I'm willing to share the experience of others. I'm glad you wrote this post. For some strange reason, I feel privilaged to have shared it with you.

  12. everyone: thank you so much. i know you're right and i am listening and learning. and thinking.
    and praying.
    tell ya what, though, enough of that. the sun is shining.

  13. hendrix7:40 AM

    This is an incredibly powerful post. Thank you for being brave enough to put it up here. I'm sure I'm not the only one who was emotionally rocked by it.

    I agree with what's already been said. What happened was not of your doing. You are not responsible for the way your grandmother was treated. I know that sounds like stating the obvious but when we're children we feel an enormous amount of culpability for things which go wrong in adults lives be it death, divorce, even an argument. It all becomes our fault because we don't realise the extent of our powerlessness but instead absorb the emotional content of the situation.

    I wish I could say let it go. But I don't think that you will ever be able to let go of the responsibility you feel about what happened. That its not your responsibility is neither here nor there. And, somewhere in that mist of emotion is probably the feeling that if you let go of the pain then you let go of the memory and more than the memory, the love you feel for her.

    I'm loth to start a sentence with the words, "what you need to do..." because that sound very superficial and what you're feeling is not superficial. But please, when the bad thoughts about your grandmothers last days arise just tell yourself that this was not your fault. That you would have given worlds to change it but couldn't and (as you do anyway) that you will make damn sure that no-one else you love will ever go through the same thing.

    Like I said, you won't ever block out the sadness you feel about what happened. So don't even try. Feeling sad or hurt is not always a bad thing. It can remind us of who and what we are and how great our capacity to feel is. Turn over a corner of your garden to her memory. Plant the things you remember her planting, make it a place to go to and remember all the wonderful things about her. In a recent post you mentioned that your blueprint for your family life on her teachings. From what I read here you have a wonderful close, loving creative family. That's just one thing you've learnt from her. Many people never manage it. How great a gift is that?

  14. ***drops trousers and moons at FN**

    Clasic comedy never gets old :-)

  15. FN, I can only repeat what everyone else said here. Not an easy post to write/read but the truth has to be talked about, even if it hurts. It sounds like your grandma had a great life and many people loved her, that is the important thing, she enjoyed her life. Death is never "nice," no matter where you are.
    {{{{{{{{{{{{ FN }}}}}}}}}}}}

  16. once again, thanks to all you smart people. i do love you all.

    beast, put your pants back on. you got your wish; i wrote something nice about her.

    on secnod thought, you don't have to.....! :)

  17. FN, I read this first but will make my way up to the new post as well. I've read one of your posts dealing with this before, didn't stop the tears from forming though. You and your Grandma were both victims together. I hope you have found some healing in her good memries. xox

  18. Crap - Blogger ate my comment.

    Well, it was pretty much what Beast said. Man, I never thought I'd say those words!