Monday, December 05, 2005

My Grand-mama ain't like

My grand-ma-ma.

She passed the day after Thanksgiving. This was my father’s mother. Thank you, thank you, thank you (being said in response to the “awwwww….I’m so sorry to hear that” ‘s, but I wasn’t close with her. I wasn’t even remotely fond of her.) It’s a shame really. So, sit back and listen as I unravel my tale. As Zed told me, this needs to be a 3 –4 part series, so henceforth this shall be called:

“My Grandmama ain’t like yours”

I have been off since last Tuesday, the Tuesday after she died to be exact. I got a call from my niece Cher (my older, ½ brother’s daughter, with whom I share paternal bloodlines) on Saturday morning telling me that she had passed the night before). “how?” , “when?”, “what did she die of?” were amongst the first questions to part from my lips. I had many feelings, but the greatest of them was a great bit of nothingness. I had not seen or talked to my grandmother about 10 years.

My niece went on to tell me that the guy that has lived in the 4-family flat (he’s around 45 years old now) and who she had practically looked after so to speak for, forever, had been with her when she died. Come to find out later, she died of a massive heart attack in his girlfriend’s arms. I didn’t feel sad. I felt sorry. Sorry for all the years that could’ve been spent together, rather than apart. But that was the past now. I didn’t cry and have yet to shed a tear, because it’s hard to cry for someone who acted like you didn’t matter for years and who didn’t ever have anything good to say to you.

You see my grandmother and I have never been close. I have always had a difficult and terse relationship with her. I have never felt, nor has she ever been like a “grandmother” to me or my siblings. Her motto: “Don’t come over to my house until you can got to the store and buy me some licka (liquor)”. She was the type of person to dog you, talk about you being too black, (yes, she had a color-complex), too fat, too whatever. If she sees a flaw, she’ll pick it out and dissect it…..right. in. front. of. you. Hmmmmmmm……..sounds like the perfect grandmother to me!

This distance between us was heightened when my father died in 1994. My grandmother was (per my father, brother and sister) NEVER a mother to my father. She had him when she was 16 you see. She was too busy trying to be cute and not have the responsibility of taking care of a child. She ended up having another child after my father. It too was another boy who ended up dying at the age of 7 from stepping on something sharp and rusty and contracting lockjaw. No one knew until it was too late and since we’re talking about the mid-late 30’s, medical help was not what it is now. Though my father always dealt with his mother with a hint of irritation (mainly because at least when I was living there she would call at LEAST 5-7 times a day for N.O.T.H.I.N.G), nevertheless, he did things for her, checked up on her, paid bills for her, ran errands for her and owned the 4-family flat that she lived in which she never had to pay to live in. My father was very good with his hands so whenever things would break or painting needed to be done or a water heater needed to be installed, he always did it. So, the money she earned as a sales person at B.Siegel department store was hers scott-free to run her numbers with.

When I lived with my father for my senior year in high school, because my mom moved to Florida that September, she would call connnnnnstantly and I would talk to her, though I felt NO closeness whatsoever. Prior to moving with my Dad, I had only seen her on holidays or on occasions when my Dad had a cookout and my Mom would bring me over so that I could be around the “other side” of my family. So, here I was a 17 year old and I LITERALLY had never spent a night or even a day with her because “she didn’t do kids”…..HELL, she didn’t raise her own! And she let people know in NO uncertain terms! So, I always felt “weird” and awkward around her. Add to this, she didn’t have a “friendly” or “welcoming” disposition. She was a surly, cursing, fussing about EV-ERY-THANG type of woman. And that was daily. That was just her disposition. But because I was a shy girl (when I was younger that is), all the loud talking and cursing made me uneasy because for as long as I can remember, when I was at home with Mommy, it was just she and I and it was peaceful and quiet. My mother was and is very calm, fairly quiet and slightly reserved. My mother never cursed at me and BARELY cursed around me. If my mother said the word “SHIT”, I would get scared cause I knew it was just that…some “SHIT” for her to utter those words. My mother is a nurturer and a healer by nature and profession (she’s a nurse), and she never stopped me from being around my “Dad’s side” but she never over-encouraged it either. You see, I don’t think that she wanted any of their “loud, obnoxious, trifling, hard-life-living” ways to rub off on me. She was set on protecting me and making sure that I respected my elders, knew right from wrong and grew up to be a lady in every sense of the word and since she was pretty much raising me by herself (cause my father was an alcoholic and SCARCELY could be counted on) she was gong to make DAMN –SURE I was given as much protection as she could provide.

She always made sure I went to see my grandmother and provided gifts and such for she and my father on the appropriate days. My grandmother just never seemed to take a “real interest” in being a “grandmother”. And as I know now, there are just those kinda people who are like that and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles(pun intended… grandmother’s nickname was “Cookie”, and everyone called her “Cookie”. Even to me she was known as “Grandma Cookie”).

So, when I received the call, I started to have a regretful feeling that I had not “seen her” since forever and that it was a shame that she had died without her family around her……then I remembered how she acted when my father was dying…….

….to be continued


nikki said...

what really saddens me about this story is the fact that your grandma never got to know and appreciate the beautiful and caring woman you are, and all because of her own self-hatred. believe me when i tell you there are PLENTY of grandmas out there like that. unfortunately, many of the women of that era resent the "freedom" our generation of women currently experience, but i'm sure your grandma's negativity towards you has more to do with her own perceived lack of freedom (starting with having your father at such an early age). too bad she never got over her bitterness and instead lost out on experiencing love from her relatives.

Robyn said...

@nik, girl I agree!! It was terrible! She was a T.R.I.P. sans beaches and sunny weather....whew! But they say not to speak ill of the dead, so I am just telling truth..... :) And thank you for the compliments sweetie! *smile*

Knockout Zed said...

People don't even know that you just scratched the surface. Wait'll they read the real ill shit that comes next!


Msnhim said...

OMG I think your granma and my granma were twins separated at birth... I know what that is like and that is why I have limited (if you can call it that) visits with her.

Chubby Chocolate said...

Damn. That's something. Well, at least you haven't let her "ways" rub off on you and you're able to know that it's HER and not you that has/had the negativity.

Can't wait for the other parts...

brooklyn babe said...

Sorry for you loss Babes. In more ways than one, you we make our choices in life that either make us better or bitter, and seems your grandma just look the latter approach, at least now she can let all that go, cause she's in a "better" place. And that should give you some peace of mind deep down.
Thanks for sharing!
Dr. Bk Babe over and out!

Georgiapeach said...

Whoa, my heart dropped when I read the ending to this post.

I can relate to this post on so many levels. But it has also encouraged me to try to build a relationship with my very distant Grandma. (She is 75, it's time for me to grow up and break any boundaries that are between her and my family and get to know a part of my history).
So thank you for that.
I am so sorry to hear about your father. Truly I am.
Very good post girl. Thanks for stopping by my site. SO nice to meet you.

Xquizzyt1 said...

Your mother sounds a lot like mine... (down to the profession! LOL) which stands to reason... because you and I are so similar. =)

I'm sorry about your grandmother. Though I am sorry to hear of her passing, I'm more sorry that her disposition and demeanor made having a relationship with her nearly impossible. What a shame. Some people just never learn how to live. It's amazing.

Lāā said...

Thanks for stopping by my site. It's cool to meet someone else in the 'D' area.

I'm so sorry that your grandmother never got to really enjoy life. All of that bitterness and being hard was obviously some type of defense mechanism.

You have a good mom to have protected you from that type of life.

Genesis said...

well...i have similar story about my granmother (paternal)...its not exactly the same...but when she died...i felt no remorse...