my grandmother has always been, for me, the symbol of everything that was once right with our family. and later she became the symbol of everything that went wrong. it is through my moments with her as a child i learned how a family could be, and it is through her as an adult i learned what a family can become when everything that could be became no longer. she has never been the family matriarch, but she has been a symbol of the past and present, of everything we had and everything we lost.
when i was little, well, not that little but young enough, we occasionally spent christmases and a rare summer with my grandmother. she had four children, all of who brought spouses and children to her home for family gatherings. and it was during those times i formed my dreams for my family. i wanted my own home where my children and their spouses and children would come visit for the holidays. i wanted the closeness that marked my mother's family in those days. i dreamed of a future founded on my experiences as a child in a few brief visit in her home. when my parents divorced, those moments became my stability.
this, of course, was all before one aunt decided i wasn't worth her time because of a comment i made at the age of 16. she never forgave me for it. this was before my mother became obviously ill and the family placed pressure on me to care for her despite having my own children to care for. this was before the other aunt developed an illness similar to my mother's and determined grandma was out to get her and refused to speak to her for ages. this was before my grandfather died and i discovered that i had never grown up in my mother's family's eyes.
this was before all the closeness dissolved.
my grandmother and i haven't been so close of late. she didn't want to speak to me because i made the choice to care for my children and not my mother. my two older girls got to meet her before this, thank goodness. i think she saw my son once, but i know she never met the youngest girl. she never had the chance to make the impact on them that she did on me, and perhaps i should be grateful for that. now days all that closeness that i loved as a child is non-existent in my family. my mother's family is scattered across california and pretty much wants nothing to do with me. my stepfather's family is scattered across ohio and never was close to begin with. i know nothing of my birth father's family, but i seriously doubt they would care to meet me.
despite all this, i still dream of my family being close,of gathering for holidays in a home i have yet to and may never own. my grandmother taught me to value family. my family taught me that family bonds are precious and have to be protected. i learned that expectations and making love conditional on those expectations can hurt more than anything. right now, my mother and one aunt don't speak very often - my mother is afraid of her and she's burned out from keeping an eye on my mother (not that anyone asked her to do so), the other aunt and uncle are strangers. there was a rumored get together several years ago. if it happened, neither i nor my mother were invited as it was put together by the aunt who no longer wants to speak with me. i'm sure that would not have been the case if my grandmother felt differently about me and hadn't hung her love on my compliance with her wishes.
i've been made an outsider by the very people who taught me what love and bonds can be.
yesterday my mother called. my grandmother died thursday morning. i doubt either of us will get to go to the funeral. we probably won't even be invited since the aunt who is no longer speaking to me has control of all that. we are no longer recognized as family. and now, that will never change. the one person who could have brought us back together, who was the foundation of what family could be is, is now gone. for me, everything - past and present - began with her.
i think i cry for what was, what can no longer be, and what could have been.
goodbye grandma. rest well.
site of the moment:
ring/clique of the moment:
word of the moment: compel
to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly; to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure