Family

Well, she’s gone. I’m not quite sure how to feel about it. I loved her from a distance. The people in my family have never been close. When she passed, Brother number 2 first tried calling Brother number 1 to let him know. Brother number 1 didn’t even answer the phone. While realizing he may have been busy and even that he may have been expecting the call, I would still like to think this is the kind of phone call one would pick up, not let go to voice mail. But then, I haven’t spoken to Brother number 1 since Christmas, although he did text me when I beat him at Trivia Crack on Facebook a month ago. It seems I broke his winning streak. I beat him the next two out of three games and he hasn’t played me since. He and his youngest son did fly down last weekend to see the folks and Grandma since my uncle and his wife were also renting a timeshare about 45 minutes away. It was planned as Nephew number 2’s birthday trip, but, needless to say, with Grandma being sick and requiring care, not a lot of fun things were done.

My grandmother was a complicated woman. An alcoholic, quite promiscuous well into her middle age, married to a man for 30 some years who was the father to two of the four children he raised with her. They were both angry, selfish people in those days. My mother’s tales of neglect would break your heart. Her drinking and smoking almost killed her when a bleeding ulcer required surgery and the choice became she will bleed to death if we don’t and, if we do, she may code under anaesthesia because her emphysema is so advanced. If I recall correctly, she did code on the table at least once but came back. She never missed an opportunity to point out how overweight I was, or to mock the conservatism of our religious beliefs and politics. A memory just made me laugh. She was saying something to me one day railing about a politician. I just chuckled and didn’t argue. She turned to me and said, “Don’t chuckle at me like that. Your father makes the same noise when he thinks I’m wrong but won’t say anything back to me.”

On the other side, Grandma paid for my braces when I was a young teenager while Dad was attending Bible college. This was back before they were such a wide-spread phenomena. It seems like everyone gets them nowadays. Then, years later, after I left Bible college and was struggling, looking for a direction in my life, not having acquired what one might call marketable job skills, she offered to let me live with her for two years, rent free and pay for the tuition to attend X-ray technology school. It wasn’t always pleasant. She was still a heavy drinker and had marked and sudden moods swings, but there we were. She even helped me buy an old junker of a car for $500 so I could get back and forth to school. Grandma even still sent me birthday and Christmas checks, because she knew that living on disability income doesn’t always mean all the expenses get covered. I always made sure to call and thank her

Grandma was very set in her ways. As I said before, she was as stubborn as two mules and didn’t like change. She mellowed a great deal when she married her second husband and moved to Florida, selling the house she’d lived in since my mother was four years old. I never got the chance to meet him. They had been married for less than a year when he passed suddenly.  Grandma married again quickly to one of the sweetest men it has ever been my pleasure to meet. His quirky sense of humor and easy-going ways let her sharpness just roll on by. She was happy with him for several years. He passed about two years ago. I don’t think she quite recovered from that as well. Grandma’s health had become increasingly frail and, without my mother’s additional care, she would have declined even faster.

Grandma had three living children and their spouses, six living grandchildren and at least five living great-grandchildren. As I said, our family isn’t close, so I’m not sure if my aunt’s son has more than one child or not.

It’s so hard to know how to mourn. I loved her and I will miss her. She was a huge piece of my life, directly and indirectly through my mother. But she is now beyond pain, beyond weakness, beyond loneliness, at home in Heaven with our Lord. I know I will see her again there when the time comes. And in that I will rejoice.

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