My last living grandparent died last night. My father’s mother, I think 2 1/2 years after her husband passed. Having spent 30 years with 3 generations above me it’s weird as hell having only my parents around now. I’m estranged from my father anyway, as I was from his parents.
They all disowned me because I left my idiot-husband and got on with my life. They took issue with me dating again, taking a lover after 8 years with that neuter I was sadly stuck to. Apparently, for their sake, I was supposed to live like a nun until I was properly divorced. As if a piece of paper in a building somewhere has any real meaning once love is dead, gone and buried. I’d do it all the same way again. It is their choice to be small-hearted. I spent my whole life being made to feel not good enough, being made to feel worthless and unloveable. My first husband made me feel so utterly undesirable, so ugly and ungainly. He always said I was lucky to have him because no one else would put up with me. Gosh, I wonder why I was so delighted to find that all that wasn’t true? I wonder what on Earth possessed me to take a lover after leaving him?
Consequently, my grandmother never even met my 2nd born. My father and his parents never even met Squid or Bug, never. My grandmother chose to leave it all that way, to die with things this way. Because, in her eyes, I was branded with a scarlet A. 17 years, that’s how long it’s been since she shut me out, and to my sisters, cousins etc I appear to be the bad one who didn’t rush to her bedside… she didn’t want me there, all she would have had to do was ask. I didn’t need an apology, I don’t expect perfection from people, I’m more than willing to forgive and forget most things. “Tell Mephit to come.” That’s all she’d have to say to my sister, Noel. Nothing more. Just enough so I’d know I wasn’t intruding, pushing in where I am not welcome, but she didn’t, so I didn’t. It was her death, not mine, not about me, it was all about her and how she wanted to spend her last, doubtless awful, days. Why would I go and make her unhappy or uncomfortable? What kind of horse’s ass would shove their way in and cause distress to a dying woman? Not me. I’m a grownup and I know how to show respect for someone’s wishes.
I really would do it all again just the way I did it. My life is wonderful. I have 3 beautiful kids and the world’s most wonderful husband. I have loyal, amazing friends who love me for who I am. I regret only that her heart was so small or so cold that she did not make room for me to be a different person from her. She could not respect my decisions and she stuck to those guns for 17 years, even after my grandfather died, even through her own failing health, there was no forgiving me for what she thought were sins. That was her decision, and I respected it, through my own loss, I respect it still. I did my insignificant part in giving her the death she wanted. It was all that was given me to do.
So now I watch the tributes roll by on social media about how loving and forgiving she was. As people in my family tell stories of how sweet, kind and gentle she was to everyone and post pictures from ancient times, when I was still in her good graces, and more modern, when I was consistently absent, I don’t even know what to say. I can’t say; “I’m sorry for your loss.” because it’s my loss too only most of my loss happened almost 2 decades ago. And I can’t join in all the praises for what a loving lady she was for she chose to show me a face like a brick wall and a heart of ice. I could say she was kind to me when I was a child, but it seems too small a praise to give, if truthful. So I’m avoiding the lists, keeping away from the places my family will be posting and posting and posting. I’m sad she’s gone, I’m sorry she suffered so before the end and I’m sorry my sisters and cousins and others lost a person they loved so well and who, apparently loved them back. I would have liked for her to know my kids, she would have marveled at them, my wondrous sweetlings, she would have laughed at their antics and applauded their successes, I suppose.
The last 17 years have been wonderful, I would have liked to have her have been a part of them but I would not go back and sit quietly in my cell waiting for the ink to dry on my divorce papers before venturing out to try to find love again. Had I done things differently, I would not be where I am, I almost certainly would have missed that magic-kissed moment when my husband and I were both ready to find each other and to recognize how staggeringly lucky we both were to be in each other’s arms. My darling Bug would not grace this world at all. No, I don’t regret my choices, not at all, but I missed her and now I will miss her a little more. She is more mine and closer to me now than she has been in years. I like to think death must give one a marvelous dose of perspective and that now she can see past her hang-ups and prejudice and see ME now, as a whole person, and not just the person she wished I was. Maybe now she can see that I am a good mom and a good wife. That I’m a softy of a mom, just as she was, she and I were never ones for the “cry it out” methods. Maybe she can see my homey cooking and small attempts at decorating and see echoes of things she did. Maybe now she can see that the door was always open on my side, I don’t know, maybe not.
Of all the things I hope about her, I hope she can see what a treasure she had in my sister, Noel. Noel cared for her through everything. Raising her kids and working full-time didn’t cause her to neglect our grandmother. She took her shopping, did her gardening once she was past it and cared for our grandfather day and night as he slowly, slowly died. She said to my darling, selfless sister as my grandfather lay dying; “You’re not inheriting any of the money. I hope you know that. It’s all going to your Aunt and her family.” My Aunt and her family who have done nothing but fritter away their lives on themselves, while Noel and my father cared for my grandparents day after day, year after YEAR. I suppose that could be construed as speaking ill of the dead, but I merely mean to say that my grandmother couldn’t see the angel before her and I hope she can see her clearly now. It really bothers me that in the midst of such suffering and sadness, as her husband died, she was thinking about the family money and felt compelled to let my sweet sister know it wasn’t for her. As if my sister might be motivated by some imagined reward and not love and kindness. I really hope she can see clearly now and that she is at peace. I miss the woman I used to know, who told me the names of plants and birds and brushed my hair gently, and braided it loosely so it wouldn’t hurt. She was kind when I was little, and I loved her.