Thursday, January 21, 2010

Larger Than Life

My Mom just called and told me her Mother is gravely ill. She is in her late 90s, 96 this year. She has spent the last several years in a nursing home across the country, alone. Her children have asked that they do not got to extreme measures to save her, just make her comfortable. They don't know how long she has but it is clear, she is at the end.

I am so glad my Mom will never die and I will never have to go through what she is, she is indestructible. My Mom will never have to live in a nursing home alone, I will drug her and drag her home with me. I will feed her fattening foods and force her to watch my stories with me every day. Of course, she will wish for death after looking at a life like that but she will never be alone.

My Grandma was a strange bird. She seemed to have these 2 lists, a good one and a bad one. You were guaranteed to be on one. Some of us stayed on one of them our entire lives, never knowing how or why we were there. Others could be switched back and forth with every interaction. She married twice. Her first husband was killed in a car accident when she was pregnant with their first child. Years later, she married my Grandfather, a man I never knew, a man my own Mother lived with and never really knew. She was the step mother to his children and always treated them as just that, step children. They later had 5 children together. She never gave me the impression that love had anything to do with their marriage. She seemed to be bitter about how it turned out and blamed his drinking and late his sobriety for her unhappiness when we talked about their life together.

I always asked lots of questions about her life, it was so interesting. Before she retired and traveled the world, she bought a muscle car. She was so proud of her Road Runner. She spent a lot of time running around South America with the love of her life. He was with the CIA and later married someone else. They always loved each other and still visited as often as they could. I would listen for hours about her life.

Her Mother had died when she was young and she was sent to live with her Grandparents. She was abruptly moved after several years when her Father remarried. She was never loved or accepted by her new severely mentally ill step Mother. She slept on the sofa and never felt welcome in her own home. She was always dressed to perfection with the prettiest dresses and bows. Other children made fun of her for it and it made her feel like an outcast because their families could never afford anything like she wore. I learned so much from how she was raised and how it made her feel. This wasn't her intention but much of the way I treat all the children that I have cared for is because of how she told her story to me. She was bigger than life to me and it broke my heart for her that her mother treated her that way, that she was moved with no consideration for her needs. It damaged her. She wasn't able to facilitate relationships within her own household as an adult. She seemed cold and uncaring at times to her children. She didn't know how to love them or to make them feel loved.

I was on her good list, I was one of the lucky ones. She loved me. I could do no wrong. I loved many of the people on her bad list, my sisters and my cousin among them. The sad thing is that it is the same cousin that she is stuck with now. Now a grown woman with children of her own, she is one of the only relatives near her. She is still mean to this woman, for no reason. My cousin's story of my Grandmother would be very different than mine. She has lived very close to her her entire life. Never treated like anything more than a nuisance. She was compared to me more times than she could count. We were close but it divided us many times as young children. She never understood why I was loved and she wasn't. I watched her struggle to win her love, always failing.

This woman helped make me who I am. She was the first person I told that I had been sexually abused. She let me drive in her lap at 9. She bought me anything I fancied and let me have 2 candy bars before dinner. She served me lime Jello with vegetables in it, calling it salad. I always ate it with a smile even though it was and still is the grossest thing I have ever placed in my mouth. She gave me my love for ice cream and would indulge our need for it any time day or night. She let me cut her hair when I was 12 because I told her I could. She made me feel beautiful and smart. She forgave me for everything I have ever done without question. She had "Kleenex Bunnies" under her bed and would pay me to "catch" them. I legally changed my middle name to Cyr, her maiden name, when I was 18. Two of my daughters took parts of her name when they were adopted, Cyr and Ella took her middle name, Mae. To me, she was the best Grandma in the world. I can only hope I have that kind of impact on another human being in my lifetime.


Jeri said...

Tudu, from reading your blog for a while now,it appears to me that you already do have the kind of impact on your family that your grandmother had on you. Take care and praying for a sweet, peaceful exit to Heaven for your grandma.

SanitySrchr said...

Our grandmothers, and their affect on our lives, seem very similar. Mine, too, is nearing the end. Praying for you and grandma!

J. said...

My grandmothers both died a number of years ago and I thank God I had as long as I did with them. They were women like your Gran, i would go as far as to say kindred spirits from what I have just read. May you remember the all the wonderful moments you shared and pass on her beauty to your children.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop posting such articles. I love to read articles like this. By the way add more pics :)

adoptyaroslav said...

Thank you for making me think of my Grandma today. I also thought of my other Grandmother who was very controlling of her kids and grandkids and had her good and bad lists, too. Seems my dad was on the bad list, so we were put there by default! Grandma Clark was another matter. She never had a bad list. Her grandkids could do no wrong. We always had candy and soda pop at Grandma's house (never at home!). And the "snowman" she would make on our heads when she babysat us as young kids was as memorable as all the stories about 'two good little girls and a good little boy.' (Funny how our family consisted of two girls and a boy.) She also never talked about my Pap-Pap after his death. He was also my favorite Grandfather, but for some reason I got the impression that they stayed together because no one ever got divorced back then. I, too, hope that I can have the same impact on someone's life that she had on mine. Grandma's that think you're perfect and can do anything are just the best!


Nichole said...

She obviously had a wonderful impact on you and had some part in making you the awesome person you are today.

So glad I'm back in blog land and get to catch up on your blog!!

And you will have an impact, on MANY children and people that come in contact with you.

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.