Monday, March 5, 2012

Thinking about grandmothers

Dear B, I thought about you yesterday.  Somehow or other, I must have ended up thinking about grandmothers, and I remembered the relationships you had with both of yours.  I remembered that practice prom dress your grandmother was making from ugly floral cloth and the way you wore it to school when she died before she could finish the real one.  I remember you kept getting demerits because the skirt was too short, and I remember defending you to the history teacher when he started to get on your case about it.  (Did that happen?)  You kept wearing it to school and getting in trouble, and I just wanted to cry every time.  It made me glad that I merely loved my grandparents with the same grim duty with which they loved me.  I was sure that when they died, I would be nowhere near as devastated, and I wouldn't have to suffer the way you did.  I was glad.

I was glad that when my grandma did die, you were no longer close.  I would have been more of a wreck if you had been around.  I would have probably felt guilty, remembering that day the ensemble went caroling in the hospital where your grandmother was dying.  We went into her room and sang.  (I don't remember what we sang.  Do you?)  You couldn't sing, and you just stood behind me crying on my coat, and I tried to sing loud enough for both of us, but it was hard for me to sing around that lump in my throat caused by your affection for your grandmother.

At my grandma's funeral, I had a lump in my throat so big I couldn't even talk, but that's not why I didn't say the Hail Mary's with the family as my mother had requested.  Why would I mouth empty religious phrases I didn't believe in?  Who would it possibly comfort?  Not my mom, who didn't believe in it either, even though she was raised in it.  Not my grandma, who was dead.  Not my grandpa who was mostly blind and partly deaf and couldn't see or hear anything I did or did not do.  No one was comforted.  I just cried. 

Probably people thought I was crying because I was overcome by sadness at losing my beloved grandmother.  Unless they knew her, they might have thought that.  For some reason, that thought made me angry, and my tears seemed hotter with added degrees of rage and guilt.  That poor bitter woman; may I never be like her.  Oh, please, dear God, never.

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