I went to see my 90-year-old grandmother today. How sweet you say? Well not exactly. I haven’t seen her in years. She is my (asshole) father’s mother and always made it her mission to let us know we were an embarrassment. She would often tell us how disgustingly fat our mother was and what a loser our father was. She was clearly embarrassed by her two sons who were only “drivers” and their dirty kids. (Dad was a city bus driver and her other son (who just might be more of an asshole than my asshole father) was a truck driver). Don’t get me wrong, she had moments where she would try to be grandmotherly. Like the time when she took us poor kids who never shopped anywhere other than Kmart or thrift stores to a nice department store and told us too pick something nice out to wear. I had no clue how to even begin to pick out something nice to wear and certainly didn’t want to appear greedy so I simply shrugged my shoulders. She then proceeded to yell to me in the middle of the store, “What, They Don’t Have Kmart Clothes Here So You Don’t Want Anything?”. She did fly me out to her big house in New Jersey twice. The house was beautiful and much like a museum. I couldn’t touch anything and had to make my bed and clean up after myself. Imagine a kid that lives in a house full of disorder, mess and crap moving into a museum for 2 weeks. It was not fun and she always seemed to bring me to her hairdresser to cut off my “straggly hair”. It would take months before strangers realized I was actually a girl and not a handsome young man(as I was often called). I remember stealing a pack of her cigarettes and smoking in the bathroom while she took her daily nap. I was about 8 years old so I wasn’t inhaling just simply so damn bored. I hid the pack up in the closet that she decided to clean out just before I left. She never suspected me for a second and blamed it on some boy cousin or nephew that had been visiting recently. I also recall writing my mother a letter that I knew Grandma would want to proofread, so naturally I wrote about how much fun I was having. Then I went back to the room with the sealed envelope, partially opened it and slipped a note in begging Mom to come get me. FAT CHANCE!
Anyway, she is not doing well and I have been hearing about all of the health issues that she is dealing with. I decided it was time to forgive and forget and spend some time with her before it was too late. I called and asked if I could stop by and my grandfather took the opportunity to go grocery shopping and leave me alone with her. She seems to be in the beginning stages of dementia but still had some insults to share. She told me how successful her sister’s grandkids were and how big and beautiful their houses were ( was she taking jabs at my matchbox house?). Then she mentioned how my brother was always her favorite even though she hasn’t seen or heard from him for twenty years.. It was not such a bad visit and my grandfather was grateful to be able to shop without worrying about or listening to her complain. I told him I would visit whenever he needed me and to not hesitate to call if he needed something. Let it be..