Wednesday, November 22, 2006


My mom sent me an email the day after my birthday to tell me that my grandmother was "in the process of dying." She said, "We're hoping she'll make it to Christmas." Yesterday's updated email says, "She could go any day." I wonder if mom's ever spent time with someone dying, especially in the last days. I wonder if she knows what it looks like.

I compartmentalize this information and I go about my day, classes, work, homework, nano, blog. Then I lay down and try to sleep, but instead of sleeping, I have images of my grandmother, laying in the bed with her eyes sunk into her head, sores down her legs from bad circulation, going crazy and talking nonsense.

And I have images of all the sweet grandmother things that ever made her dear to me. I think of "how now brown cow" which she taught me to say as we sat in her window, looking out across the field at the distant cows. I was three. I think of her in her kitchen, teaching me to wash dishes. I don't wash them that way anymore, but I did for years. I hear her voice, which was always so sweet, especially singing. She and mom were singers together, in church, they recorded the theme song for a church program that was televised in Miami in the '70s. She wanted to write songs, but she never learned how.

My grandmother has a little joke, well, she doesn't think it's a joke, but the rest of us think it's a joke. The joke is that she raised me. I was the first grandchild and I was doted on and adored by my grandmother who babysat me when my parents divorced and to whom I was viciously attached when I was very young. My grandmother, who taught me to drink coffee. My grandmother, who gave me fever blisters. We have a complicated relationship.

She tells people, when I'm doing well in school or otherwise appearing *not* to be in trouble, that she raised me. When I'm looking good, that is, she takes credit for me. And she does it in this sweet sort of way. But otherwise, in the presence of a great deal of distance, she doesn't take much credit for anything. She has an out of sight, out of mind idea about us grandkids and my sweet relationship with her began to end in my teens when I was far enough away and not familiar enough, for her to begin ignoring. No calls, the rare card, nothing much happening at all.

I'm not complaining. I'm just saying, it's complicated. I'm saying I love her and now I lay in bed at night and ignore the complicated parts and remember only the sweet parts and I cry for something that was and then was no more, something that could have been, but didn't become. I cry for the sweet grandma she was when I was little, and I cry for the old lady she is now, dying in a bed in a house in Florida; the old lady I heard just now on the phone, coughing in the background, saying "please help me" to, maybe, nobody, as my grandfather shuffled me off the phone. "How's she doing? Oh, she's fair." She doesn't sound fair to me. She sounds pretty fucking awful, but I guess you're too busy being in the middle of it to want to talk about it, huh.

Yeah. Huh. I cry because death is this precious thing and I hope they're taking good care of her, being sweet to her, and letting her know it's ok to go. I spend the end of my day, unable to sleep, not thinking about the complicated parts, but giving time only to the sweet parts and the loving parts, sending her something loving and peaceful and painfree, saying to her, "I love you and you can go on to the next place, whatever you want it to be, and hopefully they will have 'hey good lookin' and coffee and lots and lots of food because I know you love to eat. Don't hang around for us, we'll be fine."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

... beautifully written.... and I am so sorry for your loss....


4:50 PM  
Blogger Archana said...

I saw my granny die... She went away after we had a fight... It still hurts... I am sorry for your loss

5:13 AM  
Blogger Archana said...

i came to this post to make sure it is the same blog. long time! glad to know u have still been posting.

1:55 AM  

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