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23 years ago right now
23 years ago right now
i am sitting in my apartment thinking about death.
this blog is in memory of my grandmother.
about 7 o'clock in the morning on may 7th my father came and woke up me and my sister. he took us into the living room. where my mother, in a quiet choked voice tried to tell us. she couldn't. my father had to finish telling us. he said our grandmother had died. i knew what death was. we had had a cat die not long before. he died at home and i saw his body.
i had never thought much about the relationship between parents and grandparents before. i suddenly knew why my mom was so sad. it was her mom who had died.
i remember my mother, wearing a zip up bathrobe, her glasses off, started to cry. her hands went to her face and she crumpled to the floor. there is no other way to describe the motion of my mother just losing her legs beneath her and falling to her knees. her elbows resting on her knees were taking the full weight of her head on her hands. we all went to her and hugged her. and we just held on.
later that day we were on an airplane. i don't remember anything in between the living room and the hospital where my grandfather had been taken when he collapsed too.
my grandmother who built a dollhouse (ok, she got my granddad to do the electric on it.) a fabulous dollhouse with exotic things. my grandfather traveled during WWI in the navy and then later for business. she had him bring home teeny tiny baskets, miniature porcelain vases and exotic scraps of fabric. she hated to travel but she still wanted to see the world. so she had it sent home to her.
she left me the dollhouse. but because i moved so much i never had a place for it so it sat in my mother's studio closet until a few years ago when my mom sent it to her brother. my uncle lives in my grandparents' house now with his sons. my cousin cameron, his wife and little girl live there now. she's going to have it when she's old enough.
my grandmother who once woke me up around 5 a.m. so she'd have someone to play tank with on her shiny new atari. my father found us there hours later, sitting on ottomans and hunched up waaaay too close to the screen shooting at each other furiously
she collected owls. i have some of them
she kept my favorite toys in a paper shopping bag in the guest room closet
she used oil of olay. i remember she smelled sweet. i don't know what perfume she wore but i liked it.
she used to make me eggs. while everyone else was at the funeral i tried to make eggs the way she did. i wasn't quite seven at the time so of course i fucked it up. i haven't been able to eat eggs since.
she chain smoked. she was diabetic and had cataracts. she died of a heart attack after years of silent heart disease. she died around the age my mom is now. my mom has the same heart disease but she got checked for it years ago and is being successfully treated.
one of the last things she did before she died was buy books for my and my sister's birthdays. mine was a book of poetry for children. my sister's was stories. my mom found them hidden on the shelf in her closet.
we all went up to richmond for the funeral and then my mom stayed for a while. my grandfather missed the funeral. he was in the hospital. he had a heart attack and his liver started to fail the day she died. my mother stayed with him until he got out of the hospital. i wonder often if he was dying of a broken heart.
i was excluded from the funeral due to extreme youth. i was left in the care of a neighbor. i think it was peyton's mom. across the street. i don't know their last name. she knew that i kinda wanted to be alone. the house was locked up but i went and sat on the big boulder embedded in the bank of the pond in my grandparents' front yard. my grandmother had sat there with me once and tried to teach me to skip rocks. i sucked at it.
i sat on the rock in the sun and ate butter flavored pretzel nuggets and wild strawberries out of the front yard. my grandfather never had the lawn mowed in the spring so the strawberries would grow. i didn't cry. i couldn't cry. it was like my whole world had gone wrong.
my dad took me and my sister back to FL. he tried to make us tamales one night. canned tamales. my dad doesn't cook much. he didn't know to take the paper off and served them to us still wrapped. if you've ever had canned tamales you know the waxed paper on them is translucent and doesn't really show up well. we tried to eat them not knowing it was on there. then we all laughed. it was a very choked laugh.