i’m going to be rather quiet this week. my grandmother died.
no, it’s okay. i’m sad, but not cripplingly so. before you think ill of me, let me explain.
my grandmother was not an easy woman to love. she married and divorced multiple times. she complained about everything under the sun. she was not, by modern standards, a good mother. if my dad was around, i’d tell you to ask him. whenever she called our home, when i was a child, he was always ‘busy’, so as to never have to talk to her.
she was gossipy, and judgemental, and downright crotchety at times.
she was grandma.
and now she’s gone.
if i’m painfully honest, i haven’t spoken to her in over 2 years. we had a falling out over her rendition of my father’s passing; her idea that the pain she felt was the only pain that existed. that some how, everyone else’s pain was negated by hers. i don’t stomach melodrama well, even my own, and certainly not anyone else’s. so, i just stopped talking to her, rather than hurt her feelings.
i realized today when my mother called to tell me, that she didn’t even know i was now divorced. well, at least she’d not heard it from me.
and that thought made me very, very sad.
i know better than this. even if she was so lost in her own heartbreak and sorrow, and regrets in her life that she couldn’t see past any of it, i could. and i didn’t.
it was easier to NOT say anything, to just let the sore fester and slap a bandage on it, pretending it healed. it was easier to take the disapproving lecture from my great aunt when she realized i hadn’t spoken to grandma in ‘how long????’, than to pick up the phone and call. to hear my step-grandfather’s disapproving tone on the other end of the line, simply because it had been so long since the last time i called.
and now it doesn’t matter.
i can tell you of endless summers on james island, just outside of charleston. i can tell you of learning to surf on folly beach, and the guy, ‘Buddha’, who made my first surfboard. i can tell you of learning to swim in grandma’s pool. i can tell you of the horror of hurricane hugo. and the horror of her cooking. she had a baby grand piano, and couldn’t play it, but damn it looked nice in her living room.
i can recount endless tales she told of growing up poor in southern georgia, and watching her dance around memaw and big papa’s house at the holidays. i can tell you how she taught me how to play canasta, and how she couldn’t stand the catawba worms my big papa ‘grew’ for bait in the back yard. i can tell you of hours spent watching her put on jewelry, and playing in her jewelry box.
i can tell you of endless hospital visits, never knowing when that would be the last visit. i can tell you of pill cases and bottles and medicine reminders. i can tell you of worry and pain and sorrow.
but i can also tell you that i know nothing of her as a woman. not as i know the other women in my life. i don’t know why she married and remarried as often as she did. i don’t know about her deepest, truest love. i don’t know her favorite color. or her favorite scent, or if her horribly fat ill-mannered dogs are still around.
there are so many things that i don’t know, or have forgotten.
and now i’ll never get the chance.
no, she wasn’t my favorite person in the last few years. but now i’ll never get the chance to say all the things i wanted to say to her, to tell her. that no, grandma, i don’t have to marry a doctor or a lawyer to be successful. to tell her, that i understand, i think, her pain.
i’ll never be able to write the eulogy for her that i always wanted to.
and that breaks my heart.