Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Grandmother Is Dead, and I Still Despise Her

I grew up with two grandmothers. One was everything a grandmother is touted to be. She made us malts in the bathtub, took us on walks to the candy store, played with us on the beach. You name it, we did it. She read stories to us, sang songs about our blue eyes and we always felt loved and welcomed in her home. We were her grandchildren.

My other grandmother never hugged us, except maybe when we first got to her house. She was of the idea that children should be seen and not heard. I always felt as if we were a burden when we stayed there. There were seven of us grandchildren on that side of the family, and it was obvious who her favorites were. It was very rarely us.

That grandmother died two months ago in January. She had been wheelchair bound from a stroke for nearly six years. I made my husband take off of work, and the four of us flew back to my parent's hometown for the funeral. I did not do it for my grandmother. Well out of family respect, yes. But I went for my mother. My mother had lost her mother, and she needed my support. I knew having my kids there would be a welcome distraction to my mother's grief. My husband knew that I had very mixed emotions about going, and I am grateful he was there to help me.

Because I did cry at the funeral. I cried because I hated her for what she had done to our family. For the manipulation. For the sheer pleasure she got from getting someone into trouble. For all the wonderful things people said about her that did not apply to me. They said she loved to dance, that she loved to joke, what a great cook she was, how she loved to play cards with her family and friends. I do not doubt that those thing are true for them, but I hate her for the fact that she never shared that with us.

What did she share with me? What memories did she leave me with? That her only living brother "came home" after no family contact for nearly 30 years, and she still refused to see him. Even though they were both in their 80s. Even though any fight they had had in the past was irrelevant. Her take on the matter was that he married a woman who thought she was "too good" for the family. She died, and he came back to make amends. He died last year. She never did see him.

What else? That my mom and her older brother wanted to meet their biological father because of all the serious health issues they were having. My grandmother not only pitched a holy fit over this, but when my grandfather (really my mom's stepdad, but who had raised her from two months old) died of lung cancer--SHE BLAMED MY MOTHER. She said that my mother and uncle visiting their lousy excuse for a biological father had caused my grandfather to get lung cancer. My grandfather had smoked a pipe since he was in his teens. This man was the only father my mother ever knew, and my mom loved him with all her heart. My mom's younger brother, the only "full-blood" son from the new marriage, also turned on my mother. I am left with memories of that funeral, my mother at my uncle's knees BEGGING him to look at her. How sorry she was. Not only had she lost her father, but her brother and mother.

Obviously, our families made amends after time. For me, I still live with these memories, these emotions. I have not forgotten how I felt during this time, or since then. The only thing more useless than hating the living is hating the dead. But this is the process I am currently going through.

Now that she is dead, I yell at my grandmother. I yell at her in my kitchen or in my living room. I look up and the ceiling and shake my fist and tell her how much I despise the legacy she left for my family. I see my MIL doing similar things to my children, and I am living some of these things all over again. It makes me sick to my stomach to think my children will go through these same feelings. I know I should not project my childhood onto my children's, but this is all still so raw inside of me.

Some would say that my grandmother paid for her meanness through her time, pain and humiliation in the wheelchair and nursing home. I don't care to argue that point just yet. I don't know the answer. I only know that I feel robbed of the relationship I could have had with her. If only she had been the bigger person. If only she had said she was sorry for any one of the thousands of indiscretions that I remember. If only.


The Honourable Husband said...

Families. Ugh.

Is it really just a coincidence that you married a man who has similar family issues to you?

Al-anon and AC were great comforts to me when dealing with similar stuff.

Happy to talk about this stuff should you ever feel the need.

Take care,


KJ said...

Wow. This sounds a lot like my grandmother who is... right this very moment... sitting in a wheelchair in a nursing home, and complaining that no one ever comes to visit her. Nobody wants to. Its totally lonely being an A1 bitch, huh, Grandma?

Anonymous said...

I hope that by commenting on this now--so many years later--it doesn't bring you pain.

But I understand this so very much.

My beloved grandma--the world's most perfect one--died in April. My other is still alive, mean and kicking.

Where the fuck is the fairness in that?

I keep my kids away from her, even though whatever fight my father had with her that he refused to see her for years has been resolved.

Thankfully I get no grief from my mom--I think she gets why I want nothing to do with her.

My MIL passed away 2 years ago, just as we were growing closer.

I just don't understand why the shitty stuff doesn't happen to the mean people.

Love your blog. I'll be back.

Not Afraid To Use It said...

@Angel: Thanks for commenting! No, it doesn't bring me pain to read this entry. Not today, anyway! LOL You are right about the shitty stuff not happening to the mean ones. Though I do have to say that this grandmother did suffer quite a bit after her stroke. I'm not glad about that, but neither do I think she learned anything, either. My mom still resents the fact that I don't/didn't like her mom. This means I can't speak well of the one I loved bc it makes her jealous. Isn't family awesome?