Grandma's Birthday

#DateWelcome to my blog:Choose Your View:Attached to Forum:Back/ Next
4903/03/14Grandma's Birthday(Blog) (Forum)Off-Topic(Back) (Next)
"88" by Ashley Mackenzie

Today is my grandma's birthday. Of course, it's the first one she's not around for, and yeah, I'm feeling a little knotted up about that. She would have been eighty-eight today.

On my grandmother's eighty-fifth birthday, she was living in an assisted living facility, and I went to visit her. I was trepidatious about it, because I already knew that my grandmother didn't really remember me. I had had several conversations with her over the phone where she had spoken to me in generalizations and stand-offish terms, obviously not really knowing who I was, but still being too polite to risk hurting my feelings by telling me so. I didn't really want to experience this with her face-to-face, because my grandmother was one of my favorite people on this planet.

One of the facility's coordinators took me to the area where she was sitting- a vinyl bench outside of the dining area. Another couple of ladies sat in nearby wing chairs. He had to tell her who I was, and she basically greeted me like a stranger, but at least commented that I was "a good lookin' fella" and didn't object to me sitting with her and talking. There were a few awkward minutes, during which one of the other ladies left, and then grandma told me a remarkably lucid story about her first days on her own in the city.

Inwardly, I was overjoyed that I might get to actually spend some time with my grandmother, and not the remarkably grandma-like shell that had been walking around without her memories and personality. But then grandma excused herself to go the restroom. Just after she disappeared around the curve of the hallway, the last remaining lady got up from her wing chair, and came over to sit next to me on the bench. She thanked me for visiting my grandmother, and then proceeded to tell me that grandma hadn't been doing so well- that every day, she told the same story about her early days in the city. I was completely crestfallen at this news. Apparently, I wasn't going to get to speak to the grandma that knew me after all.

When grandma returned to the sitting area, she was a bit distracted. She kept peering into the dining area, seemingly at the ceiling, and she seemed confused by what she was seeing. She'd lean to one side to get a better look, scowl a little, sit back up, and then repeat the process. She did this a few times before I asked her what she was looking at. She informed me she was counting the bulbs in the chandeliers, and something didn't seem quite right. She didn't tell me what that something was, but it distracted her for a few more minutes.

We talked a little more, but it was nothing of consequence. Mostly, she didn't have answers for anything I said to her. Finally, grasping for something she might respond to, I asked her how it felt to be eighty-five. I found myself very curious to hear her answer. If she'd been lost daily to the memories of her late teens or early twenties, then did she even know she was eighty-five? I mean, she used a walker to get to the restroom. Did that register with her, or was it something she did because her subconscious told her to? Was she completely lost to that time, thinking herself a healthy young woman? Or was she only remembering that time, but confused by the old woman she saw in the mirror, and perhaps wondering where the aches and pains of age had come from? I waited intently for her answer, but was to be disappointed again by a minor mumbling that gave no answer one way or the other.

I sat back for a second, took stock of the lack of communication, and smiled lightly, knowing this was going to be all that I got. My hands resting at my sides on the bench, I rolled one hand over, barely brushed against grandma with my thumb, and said, "Well, I'm glad you're here."

I was completely shocked when grandma sprang to life, drew back her fist and said, "Are we going to have a problem?"

I craned my neck back in shock. "'Problem?' What are you talking about? What's the matter?"

Her fist still cocked back, she threatened, "You keep your hands to yourself, or we're going to have a problem! You hear me? Now are we going to have a problem?"

I was dumbfounded. I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or scream, but I kind of wanted to do all three at the same time. I mean, imagine the gross absurdity- my own grandmother thought I was making a pass at her! I think I let out a couple of disbelieving gasps before I said, "No, there's no problem." I was seriously trying not to laugh at my grandmother with her fist cocked back, and I'm sure my tone was one of those that said, "Are you kidding me?" She was oblivious to it though. She did lower her fist once I answered her though.

The other lady, who was still sitting on the other side of me on the bench, and had been helping the conversation along, chided grandma for her behavior and told her she should be thankful that I visited her. That actually made me feel worse. This was the first time I had visited grandma since I had moved back to the state. It was just something I couldn't take seeing- the strongest woman I knew reduced by the ravages of dementia and old age. It was something that just tore at me.

"Red Lips" by Nika Akin

Shortly thereafter, I couldn't bear the awkwardness anymore and made my excuses to leave. Standing, I held my arms open to give grandma a hug, and dang if she didn't surprise me again. Smiling big, she grabbed me suddenly, hugging my neck, and then playfully kissing my neck four quick times before I knew what to do. It was somewhere between the way you'd play with a child, planting kisses on them as you tell them you're "stealing kisses," and the way a teenage girl might flirt with a guy. Either way, it was surprising and a little disturbing. There wasn't anything I could do but laugh awkwardly though, so I did, made my goodbyes, and departed.

Overall, the experience was painful. I wanted my grandmother to remember me and she didn't. As I stated in earlier blogs, I did eventually get that acknowledgment from her, shortly before she died, and I'll treasure that forever. It helped too that at the funeral, a lady from grandma's retiree group stopped and spoke to me and mom, and told me that grandma always talked about me, and "My, how she really loved [me]." I don't think I can ever adequately convey just how much I needed to hear that just then.

Before her passing though, her eighty-sixth and eighty-seventh birthdays came and went, and I couldn't bring myself to go visit her again. I suppose that's terrible, but it had just gotten to be too damned painful. And then we got to the end, where mom spent the last few months being there almost every day. I was torn up over those constant updates, a little more torn up with the pain it was causing mom, sometimes sorry for my aunt too, other times pissed with her, and a little aggravated that my mom kept asking me to visit grandma with her. Couldn't she see that it was tearing me up? Damn. ...<sigh> Probably not.

I eventually went to see her, and visited several times before the end. There's not much to that. She was beyond talking, and only eating sometimes. Those times were more times for me to sit with grandma, or maybe mom and my aunt, if they were there. Times to make peace with the fact that we were about to lose her. And of course for that final affirmation that yes, somewhere in there, grandma remembered her grandson.

...And then we had the funeral, and things degenerated into navigating the machinations of my aunt, which were pretty much detailed in Grandma's Sword, Grandma's Bible, and the rest of the Grandma's Legacy blogs. Now, here we are just over three months since the last blog entry about grandma, and things have kind of stagnated.

The cold weather kicked in, and that has kept anyone from going through the storage sheds with my grandma's stuff. So nothing else has been sold (that I know of) and neither have any of the things I've asked for turned up. My aunt is kind of holding that up too. Besides the fact that she's a hoarder and doesn't want to entrust the stuff to anyone she knows (selling it to strangers is okay, apparently) she seems to have some personal grievance against giving me the things that I have asked for...even though it was she that specifically asked me what I wanted. She has been so deceitful about it that I now consider her a liar and a thief, and I don't see that changing.

Part of that thievery is that she used the power of attorney to cut me out of the money grandma had set aside for me. Honestly, I wouldn't so much mind this, except that she acts as if she didn't do that. Because she was able to coax my grandmother (in her demented state) to say the things she needed her to say, and to sign what she needed her to sign, my aunt claims "It was what mama wanted." Well bull**** to that. My aunt found a legal way to be a thief and disregard her mother's wishes, and so she stole and disregarded. Hell is hot.

She didn't get all the money though- she split it with my mom. That's the reason I don't so much mind it- I honestly could have used the money, but my mom could use it more. My only problem with that is that what I'm seeing now that mom has the money, is that rather than save it to provide for her in case something happens to her, like she said she wanted to do, she's instead spending it. A new phone and laptop here, her own apartment (or maybe renting a house) there. Other things that concern me that are sort of enabled by the money, but I guess we'll see how that goes. Whatever the case, I've said and done all I can say and do, so at this point, if mom is moving, then whatever, I'm tired of fighting about it and worrying over it. She'll just have to move and those chips will land where they may. I will try to hold onto my apartment for the rest of the lease, and enjoy having it to myself again.

And then there's me. In the last three months since the previous Grandma's Legacy blog, I've just kind of coasted.

My aunt pissed me off over the sword and gun, I threatened to look into suing her (and mom) and have been too pissed to deal with her at all since then. I don't have the patience for liars, especially if they're lies affect me. By cutting me out of the money, my aunt has slowed my economic recovery, but like I said, that doesn't so much bother me. It is my firm belief that if the money is meant for me, she can't keep it from me. It will come to me- if not from her, then some other way. I believe this is true of anything, not just money.

"There's Always Money" by Julia Sonmi Heglund

Case in point: in the last month, I received an unexpected check from a class action lawsuit against the lender that foreclosed on my house. It's one of those lawsuits I had no idea I was part of until I got the notice saying my foreclosure met the criteria for the case and so was included, and if I wanted to...blahblahblah. I got a notice about two months ago I think, saying I had a payment coming, and I shrugged. I've gotten notices like that before, from class action suits against credit cards, saying I and 1.2 million other people were going to get $1.35, and I never saw it. I figured this was just another buck-and-change I'd never actually see. Well, it turned out to be $1,250. That's real nice.

On top of that, a new employee didn't work out, and my manager needed someone to work third shift for thirty days. She allowed me to do it, and that means a higher shift differential that equals an extra forty hours a month from the base pay. Would an extra week's paycheck in a month help anyone else out? It'll sure help me! And...and... there's a chance (I'm calling it a very, very slight chance) that I may get to keep the position permanently, which I'm not going to lie, I'd love. I'm not counting on it, but yes, I'm hoping.

That's just two things to happen in the last month. Who knows what else could happen? Could be nothing, could be everything, but it will always be what I need when I need it. God is good to me that way. ...But yeah, all that is just to convey why the money doesn't bother me so much...at all, really. It's actually the lies. Those bother me a lot.

"Alone (snow)" by Cosmosnail A.B.

Back to coasting though. I haven't done much the last three months. I've sifted through my comics, and I've been trying to get them into storage and out of my apartment. It's just too many danged boxes (as you can see in my CV lists). The danged rain and snow keeps slowing me up- snow is piling up today, actually.

I've piddled with getting some old stories posted to Comic Vine. I've kind of halfheartedly gotten back into the Character Creation Contests (and the halfheartedness shows in the votes). I've been trying to get stuff straight. I need to pare the comic collection down to something that's not taking over my living room. I need to fix some tax issues stemming back to the foreclosure. I really, really have the urge to get my stuff down to something minimum-ish. I don't really want to become a minimalist, but I don't want all the crap I've got now lol. I'd really like to date again at some point, but honestly, not right now... maybe that's me still grieving, maybe it's depression, maybe it's just me getting comfortable with me.

Overall, I don't know, maybe I'm just waiting for winter to pass. Or maybe I'm waiting to see how things shake out at work. Or maybe I'm just waiting on an undefinable something to click into place. ...Or maybe I'm just a chronic procrastinator. lol It's open to judgment, I suppose.

I don't really know that I had a point to all of that. Maybe I was just taking stock. I certainly didn't expect grandma's birthday to touch me like this. I guess it's just something you don't really know how you're going to handle until it comes. So grandma's birthday made me a little sad, it made me miss her more, and it made me reflect even more than usual...so, um, sorry if this blog seems super long to anyone. Happy birthday, grandma. I love you.

-cb

***

Note: All of the pictures that aren't of grandma are from inprnt.com
25 Comments
25 Comments
Posted by cbishop

tbe

Posted by cbishop

tbe

Posted by Samimista

@cbishop: Thank you very much for sharing your personal experience with us. It truly brought tears to my eyes for how strong you've been.

I never met my grandmother on my mom's side but, she named me after Samantha from Bewitched.

Last weekend, my aunt from NY suddenly showed up at our door without any prior notice to tell my mother that my grandpa is in the hospital due to his kidneys. He literally lives down the road from the gated community we live in but, we never see him since my grandpa used to brutally beat up my mom and her siblings when they were kids. Even so, my mom has been very upset by this.

Saturday afternoon, we were driving home from getting a cheese pizza from Sam's Club. All of the sudden, she broke out in tears on the steering wheel. Sometime last week she dropped flowers off at my grandpa's hospital room but didn't go in to see him.

My grandma died a few months before I was born and right away, my grandpa married someone who dislikes his side of the family and is very involved with his finances. I personally never had a relation with my grandpa but, I do hate the bickering that's been going on regarding the will. It's sad how death can break a family apart.

As for my grandma on my dad's side, everybody says that I'm the spitting image of her. I haven't seen her in about ten years but, hope to see her this summer. She's seventy five and has been in and out of the hospital since the holidays (November to be more precise).

I never grew up around my grandma but, I've developed traits from her apparently. If it's raining heavily at night, I refuse to take a shower until after fifteen minutes from the last thunder bolt I hear...My grandma was very well known for this. I also do not like my food touching and eat my meals counterclockwise. I am also very prompt with time in which my grandma is also.

It's always a shame to lose the ones you love but important to keep the memories close to the heart. Thanks again for sharing your experience. You sound like a very devoted grandchild and I hope things look better in your situation.

By the way, your grandma was very beautiful.

Posted by cbishop

@samimista: Thanks, but I don't know that I've been that strong. You just deal with what comes along, y'know? I'm really sorry your family has had to deal with abuse, and I'm sorry about your grandfather's passing. Your mom's reaction might seem weird after not seeing her dad for so many years, but that's just it- they're still parents. It's hard not to be affected, even if you were estranged.

A devoted grandchild? Maybe. Both of my grandfathers died when I was nine, so my grandmothers are who I had for grandparents. I was closer to this one on my mom's side, than the one on my dad's side. ...She was a looker, wasn't she? Grandpa never had a chance.

Funny about being named after Samantha from Bewitched and the traits you have of your grandma's. I think that not showering during a storm is a Southern thing (altho' I don't know if you are Southern) - it's just a cautionary thing passed down through generations, although I suspect that improvements in building and grounding electricity have made it less necessary.

Also, it's not death that's tearing either family up, it's greed. Someone wants more than they were supposed to get, and they're making it miserable for everyone else. It sucks, but it happens. ...Actually, no...I think I'm wrong on that. I don't think it's greed- it's probably just grief. I know that's what has me so pissed off at my aunt. It's not that I really want or need a gun, a sword, or (Lord knows) more books, but what I realized (and I believe I said in a previous blog) is that by denying me the things I was supposed to get from grandma, my aunt was actually screwing with my grieving process. Anger is only supposed to be a stage of the grieving process, but when somebody interferes with your grieving, anger can be turned and focused in a heartbeat. And once it's focused, it may not die down like it was supposed to.

Posted by Samimista

@cbishop: Your welcome mate. My grandpa is still alive but might need dialysis three times a week? I think we're still waiting on that. Mom's thinking of driving him if that's the case. She feels really bad about all this.

Aw. ^__^ She really was beautiful. My grandmother on my dad's side had a professional photo taken by a studio and they had her photo hung for a year on their window. Still need to see that picture myself. My older brothers both have it.

Funny, I do live in the south! Was born in New York but have lived in Florida for almost my whole life. xD Had no idea about that.

That is true. Sometimes it's hard to see or think clearly when it comes to grief. Especially since you may want to own an item that was dear to the person who passed away? I can understand that for sentimental reasons. Your grandmother had a sword? That really is cool! Sounds like she had a cool collection.

I love your writing by the way! Do you write a lot of blogs?

Posted by cbishop

@samimista: Actually, the sword belonged to my grandpa. He was an auctioneer in his spare time, so we weren't sure if it's something he had from his time in the army, or if it was something that he got through one of his estate sales. Grandma had it in a closet for years, but moved it at some point. She had told me I could have it when she ran across it again, but it's one of those things she never got around to.

She did have a varied collection of stuff, all of it worth something at some point, but she pretty much literally let it go to rot. I remember a stack of Life magazines in her basement that were literally turning to dirt at the bottom of the stack, thanks to the little bugs that had taken residence there. :/

Most of my writing these days is on Comic Vine, although I've been getting the itch to really get back into my characters and see if I can write something else. I'm kind of all over the place on CV- blogs, lists, fan-fic contests. I have indexes for the various things I have going on here, but I really need to update them. They're not incomplete, they just need an overhaul.

Posted by RulerOfThisUniverse

I've been reading these Grandma blogs since you first started posting them, and I really admire your ability to put such personal experiences here. I'm sorry for your loss and the pain you felt during the years before her passing. 3 of my grandparents either died before my birth or before I could remember them, and when my grandmother on my mom's side p I was very young, so I've never really gone through an experience like this (especially one with the amount of lies and deceit you're describing). However, I hope your life keeps going well despite the hardship you've gone through. Also, good luck on permanently getting that position at work!

Online
Edited by cbishop

@rulerofthisuniverse: Overall, I suppose the lies and deception aren't that big a thing, when I look at my life as a whole. Where my grief is concerned, it plays a much bigger part. "This too shall pass" though, hopefully sooner rather than later.

I appreciate the sentiment regarding work. We'll see how it goes. I'm hopeful, but not counting on it, as contradictory as that sounds. It's all up to the boss. Hopefully, she let's me stay on third. :)

As for putting personal experiences online, that's a bit of a weird thing. I experimented with it years ago, and I found it a bit cathartic. A personal journal is a great thing for anyone, especially a writer, but the thing about that is no matter how personal you get in your journal, it's still something only you get to read (barring snooping siblings or significant others). So even though you get your feelings out, you don't really get to let go that way.

A public blog/journal is different. Y'know that old saying "Confession is good for the soul?" It's true. I don't know if I can adequately explain how to be personal for an online blog, but I guess it involves a little bit of disassociation. Kind of like the old trick for public speaking: pick a spot at the back of the room, just above everyone's heads, and focus on that- if you're not making eye contact with your audience, you're less likely to get distracted. You're kind of pretending they're not there. It's sort of the same for a blog.

By putting the personal stuff out there, it kind of helps you exorcise it- sort of free therapy through your keyboard lol. It only works if you don't hold back though. People may believe any outlandish thing you tell them, but for some reason, when you're being personal, they know if you're lying or holding back. Maybe it's because there's usually something they can identify with, so they know if it rings true or not. Now, the flipside of that is they can tell you when you're being stupid or an a-hole too, so you have to be willing to take both.

If you're being real though, most of what you're going to get back is people being real with you, and I've certainly seen several instances of that in these Grandma's Legacy blogs. It's extremely touching and heartwarming to get that kind of response. It's a little bit painful too. I mean, I'm trying to unload my own pain, and here's several people handing me theirs in return. This isn't the best time for me take on someone else's pain, y'know?

On the other hand, it is very comforting to know someone else is having or has had similar experiences. Also, by putting my personal stuff out there, I've asked a bunch of complete strangers to shoulder part of my personal burden. It's only right, fair and human that I be willing to do the same. At the risk of sounding a little too touchy-feely, this is how we help each other to heal, and I do believe that ultimately, that's something we're all put on this planet to do. Not everybody is willing to do it, but I believe we all have the capacity to.

So thanks for helping. ;)

Edited by kfhrfdu_89_76k

You know, I did wonder if you`d wrote more on this subject...Enjoyable.

Edited by kfhrfdu_89_76k

You know, I did wonder if you`d wrote more on this subject...Enjoyable post.

Maybe self-publish as a lil book, you could? Trim down some of the stuff that`s been mentioned in previous chapters. Check if there`s grammar erros. Maybe not edit out the texts that point out where it had been first published, though.

Posted by Wolverine08

Stay strong man.

Posted by cbishop

You know, I did wonder if you`d wrote more on this subject...Enjoyable post.

Maybe self-publish as a lil book, you could? Trim down some of the stuff that`s been mentioned in previous chapters. Check if there`s grammar erros. Maybe not edit out the texts that point out where it had been first published, though.

I don't know if it's really book worthy or not, but I think I prefer it this way. This is really just me getting some stuff out, y'know? I don't mind the world reading it, but I don't need to try to sell it to them. Not sure what you mean about "where it had been first published" - do you mean the links to previous entries? CV is the only place this exists.

Stay strong man.

Appreciated. Just moving through the grief as best as possible. It's not crippling or anything, but sometimes it requires a proper sorting through text.

Posted by kfhrfdu_89_76k

I meant CV. Book form would be the second source.

I think you should publish it.

Posted by cbishop

@kfhrfdu_89_76k: Hm...I highly appreciate anytime that someone tells me I should publish (if I feel they mean it and aren't just kissing my feet [and I feel that you mean it]) but I don't know...I just don't feel this is meant for something beyond blog.

Posted by The_Deathstroker

:'(

*sends virtual hug*

I've never lost a Grandma yet so I haven't experienced a loss like you have yet as I'm very close to them and when they do get a bit older and pass I'll probably be the same. I have lost both of my grandpas though but I was younger when they went so I didn't get to bind with them much. I send you my condolences. Good luck. ;-)

Edited by cbishop

@deathstrokergeist: That's very much appreciated. I understand what you're saying about your grandfathers- I lost both of mine when I was 9- one shortly after I turned nine, the other shortly before I turned 10. My grandmother on my dad's side was in my life until 200...4? I think it was 2004. This grandmother I was much closer to before dementia took her, and since I'm well into my adult years, it was painful to lose her. When you've had someone for so long, the void where they used to be is not something you can fill easily...or at all. It has to close and heal on its own.

All I can offer you for that future time (and I hope it's many years away for your family) is to give it the time needed, and don't let the anger stage of grief tear at your family. It hurts to lose a loved one, but the rest of the family is still with you, and they're grieving too. That'll cover a lot of things if you let it...but it can go too far. (Sorry, kind of mulling some of my own family stuff there.)

Posted by The_Deathstroker

@cbishop: Yeah I'm only 15 so... You've had a lot more time to bond with your grandmas so it will probably hurt you more, that is unless mine live until I'm an adult.

And thanks man. I've lost two dogs that were literally with me my whole life and that was really hard but I survived.

I'm definitely following you.

Posted by cbishop

@deathstrokergeist: Thanks much. Not to compete with your losses, but I know a little something about losing pets also. That requires time to heal also. It seems silly, but those danged critters get our hearts sometimes.

Posted by The_Deathstroker

@cbishop: Yeah lol. They definitely become family.

Posted by Squares

Wow. I teared up a little reading your post. I hope things work out in regards to your aunt (she sounds like a total creep).

Posted by cbishop

@squares: <sigh> That's just it...she's not a total creep. She is greedy, lying, manipulative, and as far as I'm concerned, a thief. I'm having a really hard time with that, as her actions in those regards are effing with my grief process, but that's just it- she's grieving too. Perhaps there will be a reconciliation in time...I don't know.

Posted by Squares

@cbishop: Oh, I get it. Damn, that sucks.

Posted by cbishop

@squares: Yes it does, but it will pass. ;)

Edited by kfhrfdu_89_76k

Well, I may `ave failed this time, but I`ll getcha make somethin` foh da pwesses eventually...

I wonder how many dialects I squashed in to one sentence...

Edited by cbishop