Thursday, February 24, 2005

Busy circling the mountain

It didn't rain today. But when I was driving to work, there was this crinkling line of sunlight splitting the low, dark clouds from the fluffy white clouds. Winding up the hill to work, sometimes I was driving into the darkness, sometimes away from it. That seems to be how things go lately.

Dad just got back from SC. Didn' t know he was down there, but Charlie said that he went down for grandma's tests. She has a tumor in her stomach that's inoperable. They're only waiting to see now if they can shrink it or not. If they can shrink it, she'll have eighteen months. If they can't shrink it, she'll have more like six.

I feel guilty. Mostly for not feeling guilty. She was never the most affectionate person, and in her later years she became very nasty. She also treated my grandfather atrociously while he was dying from Alzheimers. I still have a lot of hard feelings. I didn't really feel inclined to visit or call or write. This year was the first year I sent her something for Christmas. Mostly because mom and dad went down to visit her. I just shoved it in a bag and said take it. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have bothered to mail it. She's just the most self-centered, unkind person I've ever met. She damned near gave Charlie a nervous breakdown, making demands of him and the kids when she was living with my parents. She treated him like a slave.

I'm concerned for her soul. I'll pray for her. Not sure if it would be a fruitful gesture to even try to talk to her about God at all, maybe I'll try. I'm planning on visiting soon, mostly out of duty; partly out of guilt tinged regret. I'm sorry she wasn't a nicer person. I'm sorry she isn't someone I actually want to be around. I'm sorry I'm not a better Christian to find some way around that, to actually loving her in more than duty-filled way. It truely is easier to love strangers than people you know, who've failed you or wounded you deeply.

I love my grandpa, I miss him. I think about him every day. I wonder if I'll ever miss her as much. Mostly I'm grieving for the loss of something that didn't exist. I'm griving the loss of the possibility of having a good relationship with her, something meaningful. Maybe even reciprocal.

So, out of misplaced guilt I ended up at my other grandmother's house today. I feel bad for not seeing her more often. I know she's on her way out too. It's difficult watching Alzheimers bring her to a screaching hault as well. And I know my grandfather is going nuts under the pressure of trying to take care of her (he wasn't the most stable person starting out, either). She and I had a real relationship. I miss when she was bright and fun to be around, and I'm starting to forget the inflections of her voice when she was being witty or smart or bossy. When she talks now, it's so flat. She's lost that timbre and din that was her personality.

I know we all eventually lose the people who made us who we are. I'm facing the dark cloud right now, seeing that I'm approaching the inevidability of losing my connection to my paternal grandfather, whom I'm still selfishly holding on to, and my last connection to the Italian part of me that's responsible for so many of my quirks, habits and psychoses. It doesn't matter how many cook books I buy, there's nothing that can replace learned hands teaching you how to work. There's no book that'll make the traditions and superstitions part of daily life any more.*

When will I turn another bend and be staring into the light?


*more on this next post

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