December 17, 2004

My heart dropped to my stomach

My Grandma on my mom's side is dying of cancer. I don't talk about it much, its a drag. She was raised by her mom, a french canadian from Quebec. Great grandma had my Grandma when she was like in her 40's which was unusual for the 1930's. Grandma Bonnie never knew who her father was. Her mom had many lovers throughout her life, and it was unknown, unspoken, and not to talk about. Both of these women were artists. I have a painting from my great grandma and many of my grandmother's. They were self taught. Grandma was very pretty and obviously much younger then her grown sisters. They were jealous and one in particular was always very mean to her. She used to lock her in the closet. The other grew kinder and as they both got older, they were fairly close. Dorothy died of breast cancer, after a long long battle. Aunt Rose, died quite a few years ago, sweet, but a pain in the ass as she always was.

My Grandma modeled a bit as a child, and then later married and became a mom at 15. She divorced him, he was a drunk and he got custody of their daughter and she lived with him at his parents house. Nancy came to visit for weekends and holidays. Grandma later remarried my Grandfather and had my mom. She is the oldest of their kids together, seven of them total, five of them girls. She wasn't the best mom, couldn't work with 7 rowdy kids, and he was a bus driver in the St. Paul area. They were poor, never had enough food or clothes and lived in small houses. She had a bit of a problem with drinking, but got over it. She was mostly just a nervous wreck and wasn't emotionally available and likely dealing childhood demons I am sure. She was often mean to my mom since she was the oldest of his kids, and he gave her extra attention. Years later grandma admitted she had feelings of hate for my mom and was jealous. My mom was emotionally abused and forced to help care for her 6 younger siblings, always hungry, bored, and whiny.

All growing up of course, my mom was emotionally abusive to me, not available, depressed, and immature. She never grew up, never was the grown up, and always reminded me of how I had my dad's green, intense eyes that made her think about him, and how I had his piercing look. It made her mad. He was murdered when I was two, and from her recollections was just an evil, angry man that didn't know how to love. Many of my aunts and uncles disagree, all of his family disagrees. So, in a way, I wasn't able to know my father as well, not talk about him, it was unspoken. Too bad for me that I looked more like him then I did my mom. But just like I had great times with my mom and memories, so did my mom with my Grandma as well.

However, it was always strained and wierd being around them. My mom was not right with me and my Grandma was never right with my mom. It was always just plain odd. I'd listen to my mom and aunts bitch about grandma, and then I'd try my best to pretend I hadn't heard things when at her house. Grandma was a little neurotic at times. Like during holidays, she'd make cookies and trays of food, set them out and yell at you if you tried to eat any of it. She could never handle having any of her two grandkids that lived nearby around for long. Not once would she offer us snacks, drinks, or grandma treats. One year for Christmas when I was about two she bought me a rocking horse on springs which was kept at her house, and then she later returned it. I always wondered what happend to the horse... Very odd.

I was always closer to my dad's mom, as I'm the only thing left of my dad. He was an only child, same as I. I was sent to live with her when I was about nine and stayed for almost two years. Even before then, after my dad died my mom moved from San Diego to Detroit for their help in raising me. Grandma Bonnie wasn't really the type to help her kids in these situations.

I wish we were closer, and I do have lots of fond memories. My grandpa was an absolute teddy bear, as funny as could be and extremely kind. He made it even more fun to be at their house. Everyone in the family was Pooh. Melissa Pooh or Debbie Pooh. When I was pregnant with my first child at 16, she sent me a letter one time, telling me how she knew what it was like, to be a teenager and pregnant and how scary it could be. She told me I could do it, and she still loved me and didn't judge me. I will never forget that. Because, to me, she seemed removed. She became a born again Christian later in her life and I thought surely she was always like that, never would I have guessed she was a mom at 15 or pregnant with my mom when she married my Grandpa.

We are both at fault in a few things. She never seemed too overly interested in great grandparenting. I think when my oldest was 5 he got two books out of a 5 book set, and 3 pairs of socks??? Rarely were there cards or phone calls. She moved back to MN around the same time I was pg with JD. Every other Christmas we might get an advent calender for the kids. She sent cards here or there with stickers. But we were never extended an invite to stay and visit with them when we moved one state next to her. When we did come out the first year we were here, for Christmas she ignored my husband most of the time. She didn't offer us anything to eat or drink. He stayed at my Aunt's house, when we all went on a family lunch one day. (the kids stayed too, they wanted just me to come)

When I was pregnant with our youngest about 5 yrs ago, my mom was moving back to CA after having lived with us for 16 months. She was driving and hadn't gotten her last check from her job she had here. She wanted to go out there though, to visit with them one last time and wanted me to come so she and I could have a weekend alone. She'd drive me back to get her last check and hit the road. I was uneasy about it, because my mom says and often doesn't do. My husband warned me I'd be stuck and she wouldn't follow through and he couldn't leave work to get me. My grandma is strange about how many people she can handle around her, so I was going to stay some time at my Aunt's and some at my grandma's where my mom would be. By the way, my grandma has a huge finished basement with a bedroom, livingroon, and bathroom. My mom chose not to tell my grandma I was coming. She surprised her with the news as we were on the road, calling her by my cell phone. She seemed ok, a little strange, but she always is. My aunt was also visiting from CA, the youngest child and grandma's favorite. I thought the visit was fairly decent til on Saturday night my mom started hinting how she was thinking about just driving straight to CA from my grandma's house and they all thought it would be easier that way as well. She asked me, "Do you think your husband could come get you?" I reminded her that NO, he had to work and you said you'd take me back home or I wouldn't have come. So then, they ask me, what about a greyhound? My grandparents have even offered to pay for the fare, they tell me. I called my husband and he flipped out. There was no way in hell that his pregnant wife (3 1/2 months & queasy) was going to take a greyhound bus home, taking twice as long as it should, with total strangers since she said she'd drive me home. He cussed, said some four letter words about my mom (they have some bad history) and said he was taking monday off and keeping the kids home from school and coming to get me.

When I told my mom, she talked to my grandma and then my grandma comes flying out of the bedroom screaming at me "why can't you just take a bus home? What is wrong with that? We offered to pay. Your making this more difficult on you mom, and now your making her feel bad, she's in there crying right now because your selfish! Look what your doing to her! Why are you being so selfish, this isn't about you. This whole weekend was supposed to be about Christina coming to visit, and Debbie coming to say good-bye and now your here when no one asked you to come, messing everything up. Your not welcome, why are you even here?"

Yep, she said a few more things and the whole time, she's building more and more veins in her neck, just letting me have it. I was in so much shock, I couldn't BELIEVE my grandma was saying this to me. I screamed at her, "don't you talk to me like that you crazy bitch" and I ran out the door, so freaked out that I forgot my cell phone. It's October, cold and I'm mules, and a thin coat. I actually get freakin lost in this crazy neighborhood of hers where there's two of every street, and its very dark making it worse to make sense out of what I'm seeing. I finally find a pay phone miles away, only to get the modem when I try to make a collect call. Eventually after hours of crying and walking around lost, my mom and my aunt find me, at about 1am. I come in the door, after hearing my aunt say she can't believe what she heard and grandma is in tears about what she did and doesn't even know where it came from. I walk in, and tell her not to talk to me at all and go downstairs where I wish I can close my eyes and be home. In the morning she comes down and tries to hug me and say she's so sorry etc. They leave for chinese lunch on Monday and I stay behind. My husband shows up by like noon which means he flew the whole way from Milwaukee to the burbs of St. Paul. I just leave, no note, nothing and didn't talk to my mom or grandma for months.

I did eventually forgive her but my husband still to this day wouldn't go out there. Where I am at now is just sadness. I feel so sad that for all these years we could never be close, that I couldn't feel for her like I did for my other Grandma. That it was always so strained between my aunts & uncles and her. It's like, trying to set aside all those bad memories of bitterness you have with your mom in a tiny amount of time and say good bye as well. I had went out there in August with my two youngest so she could get to know them and see me. I barely saw her and when I did it wasn't one on one or personal. She really didn't talk to the kids or hug them. When we were at her house, she actually sat with that look she gets as my youngest played with a plastic snake on her cheap coffee table. "Is he going to scratch the table with that?" I left glad I went since I had such a great time with my cousin and her baby but wondering, why I bother?

My mom was living with me again til my aunt offered to let her stay there to find a job. She said my grandma was in great spirits, pain medication was helping and they were finding a new one for her. She talked about how excited she was for Christmas this year and hoping to see me and the kids. (for years she's avoiding these things since it's too much for her nerves) She washed all her quilts to give to my kids. She had my mom help her pick out a gift for me, something my husband could appreciate too. She got a little something for each child as well and wants to give them some money. I was supposed to go out there December 10th through the 12th. But my other aunts and cousins from CA decided to come, leaving us with no room to stay. Honestly, with all the kids parties and field trips they were going to miss that weekend, and the money we didn't have to spend on that trip, I just didn't it was right to go. Even when it's just me around, you don't feel like she's focusing in on you. So, how will it be any better when all of her 8 kids are there? The sad part is, she's going down hill so fast. She has a very rare from of stomach cancer. She's not eating well, can't focus on her TV shows, stopped going to church, is falling down, and slurring her words. I have to admit that I really should go there, I need to go, but I'm too upset to. Even after all the BS, I love her, and I'm so sad to see it end this way, and so upset that I never sent her more pictures, kept in better touch, let her into my life. I did send a card a few weeks back telling her I love her, and included pics of the kids. I feel, that what I have to say, is said. I just pray she holds on til I can come soon. I've been putting it out of my mind and then I get a Christmas card today. It's addressed by my mom, and partially filled out by her as well. My grandma loved to write cards and put stickers in them, underline the sentiments, and include a hard written note.

The card she sends is not typical for her taste. It's Santa and frosty and says "Celebrating with friends ....makes Christmas special. Merry Christmas Happy New Year

My mom signs "Love in our Savior" My grandma always used to sign her cards "In Jesus". After my mom's message grandma writes "and love in Jack (that's my grandpa's nickname) and and and and aunt shirley ((?? huh? that's my mom's cousin)) I the the the Lord's Lord I Jesus' Us Guys

So this is where it hits me, she's leaving. Her brain is almost gone. I don't really know her and she doesn't realy know me.